Thursday, June 13, 2024

Thoughts on North Fork Road

by Larry Wilson
| March 22, 2023 2:00 AM

I am writing this column on the official first day of Spring. As usual it is much more springlike in Columbia Falls than it is on the North Fork. In town there is a lot of bare ground as well as a lot of puddles as the snow melts more or less quickly.

On the North Fork it is still winter. Oh sure, it is a bit warmer and there is settling of the snowpack and everything, including the road, is covered in snow. In my opinion, right now is when the North Fork becomes the most dangerous.

As the snow melts during the day and then freezes at night the snow covered road becomes icy. During the day a thin layer of water is on top of the ice and that makes the Road VERY slick. Already this spring I have heard of one North Forker sliding off of the Road on Vance Hill. I don’t think anyone was hurt, but I’ll bet the nearly new pickup suffered some expensive damage.

All of this week my email has been filled with news, rumors and comments about Flathead County applying for more FLAP grants to improve the North Fork Road. I refuse to be concerned until we see what the County actually applies for.

It will be next fall before the grant or grants are awarded and then, based on the last grant, it will be years before any work begins. I am going to wait until the grants are actually being written to offer my opinion. I favor paving from Canyon Creek to Camas Junction and I favor fixing the slump at Ray Hart’s. I don’t care if they pave from Camas to Polebridge, but would not work to see that done.

As of today I would oppose paving north of Polebridge, but that could change with a lot more traffic in the future.

Like it or not the Homestead days are over. We are not a Wilderness Area. We are more of a recreational area than anything else. That means we need to host more and more recreationalists and the various ways they want to enjoy the area.

The traditional recreation will continue – hiking, horses, fishing, etc. In addition we will have to make room for new things – ATVs, side by sides, mountain bikes, electric bikes and will need space and ways to keep them safe. That will require more infrastructure and staffing by state and federal agencies.

If we don’t plan for this we are sure to have a mess.

I don’t like the changes but they are coming. Like it or not!