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Interlocal on Zoom

| January 27, 2021 1:00 AM

As usual at this time of year, North Forkers begin talking about the Winter Interlocal Meeting. This winter it was to be held at Fish Wildlife and Parks in mid-February. With the COVID-19 virus we all agreed that the meeting, which usually attracts 80 or more people, probably could not be held.

This created quite a furor among locals because of their concerns with the Forest Service and Glacier Park.

First discussions involved having maybe the Landowners Association either set up a Zoom meeting with those two [agencies] or send a delegation of two or three board members for face-to-face meetings to relay concerns and get answers.

In the end it was decided to follow past practice and collect concerns from residents, send them to the agencies so they could prepare information and then organize a Zoom meeting sometime in February.

As usual there is a raft of concerns. Some represent only a few people and some are of concern to the whole community.

In no particular order, concerns involving Glacier Park include the Inside Road from Fish Creek to Polebridge, whether or not campgrounds will be open next summer, mussel inspections at Polebridge, and whether or not any boats will be allowed on Kintla and Bowman Lakes. There is also the perception that North Forkers are discriminated [against] when mussel inspections are only done at Apgar, and a strict enforcement of current rules does not allow boats to be taken up the North Fork from Apgar. The reason is that once inspected, boats are not to leave the Park without being inspected again to re-enter. Try driving (or boating) from Apgar to Kintla Lake without leaving the Park. Some locals have been inspected at Polebridge but most consider it a hassle for a variety of reasons.

The Forest Service is another big agency of concern. Many folks are concerned about summer permits, mostly involving ATV and side-by-side events on Forest roads. There is also concern about the final River Plan, camping, the FLAP grant and the overflow of recreationists if the east side of Glacier is closed again in 2021. Of course, my pet peeve about the lack of sanitary facilities at Sondreson Meadow still bugs me as well as presumably little or no planning as regards more and more people— not only on the river but at campgrounds and dispersed sites everywhere on the North Fork.

I think it is vital for us to express our concerns, at whatever kind of Interlocal is put together, or by letters, email, or phone. Whatever is easiest for you. Let the agencies know how you feel.

Larry Wilson's North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.