Tuesday, November 30, 2021
45.0°F

Traffic down, a little

by By Larry Wilson
| September 1, 2021 8:45 AM

All fire restrictions have been lifted. That means campfires are legal and outdoor activities around a cheerful fire are back on the agenda. If it is not raining — or even if it is. No official that I know has been willing to say. 

The fire season is over but fires are still possible In my opinion there is very little risk of a large stand replacement fire. Of course, I still advise caution and am not advocating burning any brush piles. 

What I do advocate is preparing for next year’s fire season — now. It is now legal to use chainsaws all day so you can thin your trees, trim lower branches and pile the brush. If you do that now you can probably burn the brush this fall and certainly next spring. Personally, I strongly prefer to burn brush in the fall so that the winter snow ensures the remains are dead out. Spring burning can result in a root of a stump smoldering until midsummer and then give you a nasty surprise. I know chances of that are small but, to me, zero risk is better than even a small risk. Besides I think it is more fun to burn in the fall when crisp temperatures cause a fire to feel good and I like to roast hot dogs in the coals after the sun goes down.

Summer is coming to an end so enjoy whatever nice weather remains and get ready for the great fall activities that includes the landowners activities which will include a second attempt to pass a text amendment to the North Fork Land Use Plan and the accompanying zoning regulations.  With luck, the text amendment will be approved by Flathead County and that will lead to a review of the entire North Fork Land Use Plan. 

Already, the North Fork Road is developing washboard and potholes after being graded and magnesium chloride applied by the county and the Forest Service as part of the Hay Creek Fire suppression effort. Their work brought a surge of traffic up the North Fork but it is slowing down a little now.

Most of this spring and summer I met over 100 vehicles every time I traveled to or from Trail Creek to Columbia Falls. This Friday the count was 86 compared to the high of 123 in July. 

I have only seen six bears this summer — all black bears. Gary McDonough had seen 27, mostly grizzlies before he left for Illinois in early August. No real contest this year. In fact, almost everyone saw more bears than I.

Just this week the Meekers saw a female black bear with three active, healthy cubs and got a nice video. I am convinced I saw a few bears this summer because I carried a camera in the car. They do not want me to steal their soul. 

What do you think?