Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thoughts on Interlocal

| March 10, 2021 6:55 AM

The winter interlocal was held this week thanks to the host, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Dillon Tabish did a tremendous job of organizing it as a zoom meeting. The work of NFLA President Bill Walker in gathering citizen concerns to the agencies in advance of the meeting was also key to its success.

Biggest news in my mind was the FLAP grant. Phase one will take place this summer. It will involve rebuilding the North Fork Road from the Canadian border south for five miles. The rebuilt road will have an 18 foot wide surface and there will be turnouts where possible.

For some reason there was no road easement through school section #16 and this created a need for more money for the local cost share. Flathead County acquired the right-of-way, which cost $50,000, and also committed another $50,000 to

the project. Also helping with additional local funding, Glacier Park donated the millings that will come from the repairing of the Going to the Sun Road. The millings will be trucked to the

DeMers gravel pit this summer and fall and will be used on phase two of the FLAP grant in 2022. This phase will rebuild the road from Polebridge townsite to the Polebridge entrance of Glacier Park. In effect, it will be a paved road and will later be chip coated by Flathead County.

No mention was made regarding the slump near Harts just north of Ford station. Originally this was part of the FLAP grant. All in all this two-phased project is a major-dollar investment in the North Fork road system. I think it will significantly increase traffic on the North Fork in the summer months with no provision for increased traffic enforcement. The sheriff does not have the manpower to do traffic control and, to my knowledge, no one has even talked to the Montana Highway Patrol about it.

The Forest Service has extended the River Plan completion, so nothing is planned regarding increased river traffic and the spread of dispersed camping. The Forest Service will increase education efforts regarding disposal of human waste and attempt to limit the spread of dispersed camping.

To me, spending millions to improve roads and not addressing increased people using the area is hypocritical and self-defeating. In the end I fear private campgrounds and RV parks will become the norm, not the exception.

What do you think?

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