North Fork Road improvements won’t happen anytime soon

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This grizzly was attracted to oats in this field up the North Fork. The landowner said he will not plant oats again.

Work on the upper end of the North Fork Road and the access road to the Polebridge entrance to Glacier National Park is still a few years away.

The Forest Service has plans to improve the highway from Trail Creek to the border under the Federal Lands Access Program, and to fill the gigantic potholes and other issues with the road to Polebridge.

But since the project is over $1 million, it now falls under the review of the federal Highways Administration, Gary Danczyk, staff officer for the Flathead National Forest told the crowd at the North Fork Interlocal recently.

This year, the Forest Service will work with federal highways on a design for the road, with construction possible in 2020 or 2021, he said.

The project was first announced in 2016.

The upper end of the road is narrow and dirt, with little gravel, It ruts up badly when it’s wet and is dusty when it’s dry.

As an aside, Danczyk, who has worked with the Park Service and the Forest service for years, has taken a engineering position in the regional offices in Missoula.

In other news from the Interlocal:

• Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Chris Crane reminded residents that feeding animals is illegal and that includes feeding deer hay. Last year someone ordered feed blocks for deer, the post office dropped them off at the mailbox and a bear tore into them instead. FWP biologist Tim Manley said the farmer that planted oats in a field near Polebridge won’t be planting them again this year. The field drew in grizzly bears feeding on the oats and one had to be moved after people approached the bear taking “selfies” within 20 feet. Overall, more bear education may be needed in the North Fork, as yurts become more popular. The problem with yurts is they’re soft-sided and bears have been getting into them — just a like a tent. Manley said FWP is considering holding a “bear fair” at Polebridge later this year — an event that showcases the dos and don’ts in bear country.

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