Steele ignoring Act
Forest Supervisor Kurt Steele’s decision to allow continued motorized camping at the gravel bar downstream from Blankenship bridge contradicts his agency’s management directives as stated in their website regarding Wild and Scenic rivers “to ensure that ...water quality and the outstanding remarkable values of these rivers are protected from overuse, instream developments and other impacts that do not enhance these values.”
He exempts himself from following this mandate by saying that District staff didn’t “observe levels of permanent or irreversible resource damage associated with camping.”
He apparently believes that a summer’s worth of accumulated human waste and toxic automotive fluids isn’t a permanent problem, since annual spring floods wash it all away into Flathead Lake.
The access road to the site is a treacherous eyesore that should either be rehabilitated and closed, or reconstructed.
Although Steele says there’s no resource damage being done, District Ranger Rob Davies told me last March that he wasn’t going to improve the road because he wanted to limit the number of campers using the site.
But Steele and Davies agree on one thing. They both say that long-term management of the area is “currently under review in the Flathead Comprehensive River management Plan.”
In other words, they can kick the can down the road, pretending there aren’t too many campers, that they’re all conscientious, and that occasional patrols by District staff will prevent resource degradation.
Living on the headwaters of the Columbia, we enjoy some of the purest water on earth.
The Forest Service should protect this irreplaceable resource instead of catering to spoiled recreationists who have grown accustomed to polluting our river with impunity.
The gravel bar below the bridge should be a walk-in, day-use-only area.