Friday, June 25, 2021

Thoughts on Blankenship

| May 10, 2021 6:10 AM

Finally, the Blankenship fiasco is getting the attention it deserves, as what went on last year, is an obvious contradiction to the meaning and intent of The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. While many have expressed an opinion already, I felt it necessary to address some of the comments attributed to the Forest Services’ “recreational leader,” Mr. Crandall, to wit, “did bring in portable toilets and enforced a 3-night stay limit.”

We live on the river, a mile upriver from the bridge and in my daily walks there, and the daily photos I took, I can assure that many campers stayed longer than the “limit.” They left early in the a.m. and were back at dark. In addition, the No Camping area across the road, always had campers despite

the small NO CAMPING signs. I have seen evidence of campers draining their septic systems on the edge of the road as well as in the NO CAMPING area. I have no knowledge of how the Forest Service patrols The North Fork upriver from the bridge, but for the first time we have had overnight camping with fires (of course) on the island in the river not more than a mile up stream.

I don’t know if that is the Forest Service jurisdiction, or Glacier Parks’, but it is a problem about to get worse.

Most of us concerned citizens do not understand the reluctance to shut this camping area down. Twenty to thirty fires a night, next to very mature timber, is a calamity waiting to happen—- look at what the two wind storms did this last June and January to the trees up in this area—now let that wind blow with twenty to thirty campfires?

What’s being allowed to happen at Blankenship is a mockery of The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The time is now for the Forest Service to show some strong leadership in insuring that the Flathead Rivers remain Wild and Scenic.

Chris McEwan

Debbie Bollinger

Columbia Falls