Category Archives: News

Le Grizz donates proceeds to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails

Le Grizz donates to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails, Oct. 12, 2019

Le Grizz donates to Flathead Special Olympics and North Fork Trails, Oct. 12, 2019

The North Fork Trails Association is very grateful to the Polebridge Mercantile for its kind and generous donations from the Le Grizz race proceeds to both us and to the Flathead Special Olympics.

Here’s the press  release and a photo. (You may recognize the old guy on the right.) . . .

On Saturday, October 12th, 100 participants started and finished the Le Grizz Ultramarathon and Relay in Polebridge, Montana. The day was greeted with crispy cold temperatures and ended with a full moon and a visit from the local Grizzly Bear. The proceeds of the race were kindly donated by the Polebridge Mercantile to the Flathead Special Olympics and The North Fork Trails Association. The Special Olympics will use the $500 donation to attend their swimming competition in Butte in a few weeks. The NF Trails crew will use their $500 to continue to maintain trails in the North Fork for all users. It is only the second time in the 38 years Le Grizz has been happening that all racers finished. The Merc and Le Grizz staff thank all volunteers who helped as well as local residents for tolerating the crazy folks who ran this race.

Glacier Gateway Project seeks backing

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway land acquisition

Map showing proposed Glacier Gateway Project land acquisition

In case you haven’t heard about it already, the Vital Ground Foundation and the US Forest Service are working on something called the “Glacier Gateway Project.”

They are proposing to acquire two properties totaling about 23 acres using Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF). The parcels are along the section of the Polebridge Loop Road between the Polebridge Mercantile and the entrance to Glacier National Park. The acquisition would connect adjacent public lands managed by the Flathead National Forest along the designated Wild and Scenic corridor of the North Fork Flathead River.

The owners of both properties are willing sellers who wish to protect their lands from further development. (There are rumors that one potential buyer wanted to build an RV park.)

What’s the trails connection? The Pacific Northwest Trail runs along the Polebridge Loop Road after the trail emerges from Glacier Park. Sharing the road with motorized traffic, especially during tourist season, is less than ideal. Acquiring the Glacier Gateway parcels makes it easier for the Forest Service to achieve its eventual goal of a separate trail parallel to the road.

Here’s the deal: Vital Ground and the Forest Service are hoping to get individuals and organizations to send in letters of support for this proposal *by the end of the month.*

Want to read more? Here are the project documents:

Glacier Gateway Project Fact Sheet
Glacier Gateway Project Pictures
Glacier Gateway Project Sample Support Letter (Word format; also see note below)

NOTE: Even though the sample letter is addressed to Leanne Marten, the USFS Regional Forester, please send letters of support (by email preferably) to Mitch Doherty at the Vital Ground Foundation so that he can scan them and include them with the application submission. Here is Mitch’s contact information:

Mitch Doherty
Conservation Program Manager
Vital Ground Foundation
20 Fort Missoula Rd 59804-7202
Missoula, MT
(406) 549-8650
MDoherty@VitalGround.org

 

E-Bikes welcome on ‘motorized use’ Forest Service trails, roads only

Short version: The Forest Service has decided not to allow e-bikes in non-motorized areas. Here’s the meat of the official press release on the matter . . .

E-bikeMissoula, Mont. – Electric bicycles (e-bikes) have grown in popularity for both recreational use and hunting on public lands and are currently welcome on more than 52,000 miles of roads and 7,700 miles of trails throughout the Northern Region’s nine National Forests and Dakota Prairie Grasslands where motorized vehicle travel is authorized.

The Flathead National Forest currently has 1,427 miles of road and 226 miles of trails available for e-bike use.

The USDA Forest Service considers e-bikes as motorized vehicles and therefore does not allow their use on non-motorized National Forest System roads and trails.

The Service encourages e-bike riders to consult their local National Forest or Grassland’s Motor Vehicle Use Map to ensure they’re riding on an approved, motorized use road or trail, and to exercise caution when traveling among other motor vehicles.

Bear Fair on Saturday, Aug 24 at noon!

2019 Bear Fair PosterAs an answer to two Grizzly bear cubs being euthanized last fall, Polebridge is hosting a Bear Fair next Saturday, August 24th, from noon-3pm behind the Northern Lights Saloon. If persuasion of proximity to a delicious watering hole (and bakery) isn’t enough, there will be opportunities to practice your shot with inert bear spray cans, meet Karelian Bear Dogs, sample products for living with bears, enjoy presentations by a few local bear experts and games and prizes for the entire family! Join us in Polebridge, Saturday, August 24th from noon-3pm.

Cutting the switchbacks: Bitterroot Forest trail crew’s work undermined by errant hikers

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 - W. K. Walker

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 – W. K. Walker

Hikers and bikers cutting switchbacks is a problem just about anywhere trails climb steep terrain. Here’s a timely reminder, originally posted to the Ravalli Republic, of why it is a bad idea . . .

A hiker’s decision to save a few steps by cutting between switchbacks may be endangering the future of some of the Bitterroot National Forest’s most scenic trails.

Last summer, the Bitterroot Forest’s five-person trail crew spent a day and a half building a rock wall and hauling in forest debris to cover the user-created trails between switchbacks on the popular Blodgett Overlook Trail west of Hamilton.

Nearly all of that work has been undone by new trails created this summer by hikers who opt to head straight down the mountain rather than staying on the trail designed to keep erosion in check with a walkway that’s safe for public travel.

Read more . . .

NFTA 2019 Schedule Posted

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 - W. K. Walker

Coal Ridge, July 21, 2018 – W. K. Walker

The 2019 North Fork Trails  Association schedule  is available in the Calendar section of the web site.

As usual, the schedule of events is subject to change as the season progresses. Fire season is the big unknown, but trail conditions, weather and shifting priorities will likely force a few modifications as well.

Flathead National Forest’s September Trails Initiative

From the press release . . .

Kalispell, MT, August 2, 2018 – Flathead National Forest is inviting local citizens to join its September Trails Initiative and help make a few trails close to home a little better.

Volunteer work parties will be held the last four Fridays and Saturdays in September 2018 on a wide range of trails within roughly an hour of Kalispell. Each weekend of work parties features one of the many non-profit partners in the Flathead Valley that work hard to make the whole trail system a great place for a wide range of trail lovers.

Each work party starts at 9 at the trailhead and ends at about 3:30pm rain or shine. Be sure to bring a long sleeve shirt, long pants, sturdy boots, pair of work gloves, lunch, plenty of water and a winning attitude. Expect a physically strenuous day and a hike up to 3 miles one-way.

For more information and to sign up for one or more work parties visit http://bit.ly/SeptTrails2018. When you sign up you will receive a confirmation email with more details on where to meet and what to expect.

“Few activities on National Forests are more rewarding than helping maintain trails: get outside, get a little work out, feel the joy of working alongside some new friends, and perhaps most importantly, immediately see how your efforts improve trails that many others will enjoy.” –MJ Crandall, District Recreation Lead for Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District.

Finally, come celebrate all the good work we get done as well for the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act on Tuesday October 2nd at 6:00pm at Backslope Brewing in Columbia Falls.

For questions, contact MJ Crandall, Hungry Horse-Glacier View District Recreation Lead at 406-387-3818 or mjcrandall@fs.fed.us.

 Schedule Meet at: Work party location Partner
Weekend 1  
Friday September 7 9:00am Emery Creek Snowmobile Trail  (FSR 1614) Flathead Snowmobile Association
Saturday September 8 9:00am Emery Creek Snowmobile Trail  (FSR 1614) Flathead Snowmobile Association
Weekend 2  
Friday September 14 9:00am Danny On National Recreation Trail #370 Montana Wilderness Association
Saturday September 15 9:00am Danny On National Recreation Trail #370 Montana Wilderness Association
Weekend 3  
Friday September 21 9:00am Tally-Ashley Trail #800 Flathead Area Mountain Bikers
Saturday September 22 9:00am Tally-Ashley Trail #800 Flathead Area Mountain Bikers
Weekend 4   
Friday September 28 9:00am Ousel Peak Trail #331 Bob Marshall Wild. Foundation
Saturday September 29 National Public Lands Day! 9:00am Skiumah Creek #204 Bob Marshall Wild. Foundation
Trails 50th Celebration  
Tuesday October 2  

6:00pm

Backslope Brewing in Columbia Falls All

Forest Service ups reliance on volunteers for trail repair

Trail Clearing with 'Silky' Saw

Trail Clearing with ‘Silky’ Saw

More visitors, less money and a mandate to increase volunteer help on trail maintenance. This should be an interesting year . . .

The U.S. Forest Service hopes to double the workload of its volunteer helpers as it attacks a backlog of trail maintenance largely in Montana.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex’s 3,200 miles of trail arrived No. 1 on a Forest Service priority list for trail work last Friday. So did the Continental Divide Scenic Trail; its largest segment passes through Montana. And the Central Idaho Wilderness Complex listing includes a chunk of the Bitterroot National Forest slopping across the Montana-Idaho border.

But no money was attached to any of these priority areas. Instead, the Forest Service is following the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016, which commands the agency “to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100 percent” within five years of enactment.

Read more . . .

Winter Trails Day in the Flathead

Lunch on Glacier View Mtn

Lunch on Glacier View Mtn

From the official Forest Service press release

The Flathead Community of Resource Educators (CORE), a network of individuals and organizations working together to increase awareness and understanding about the natural, historical and cultural resources of the Flathead Region, is celebrating Winter Trails Day on Saturday, January 20 with several free outdoor activities.

These free activities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors in winter and discover the fitness and social benefits of snowshoeing and winter hiking in Northwest Montana. All activities are suitable for beginners and families. Be prepared with warm clothing and wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. Bring along binoculars for catching a glimpse of winter birds.

  • Snowshoe walk in the Flathead National Forest, hosted by the Swan Lake Ranger District and Foy’s to Blacktail Trails, will be at the Blacktail Mountain cross-country ski trails near Lakeside, 10am-Noon. Come explore the winter landscape and enjoy a guided look at animal tracks, trees and shrubs and even the snowpack. Participants may bring snowshoes, or a limited number of children and adult shoes will be available by reservation. Please meet at the Blacktail Cross-Country Ski Trails parking area. For more information or to reserve snowshoes, please contact the Swan Lake Ranger District at 837-7500.
  • Explore Lone Pine State Park on snowshoes. Adult and children’s snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A ranger-led snowshoe walk takes place from 2pm to 3:30pm. Please contact the park at 755-2706 for more information or to reserve snowshoes for a fee.
  • Ranger-led snowshoe hikes at Glacier National Park will be hosted at 10:30am and 2pm. Each hike will last approximately two hours and reservations are not required. Take an intimate look at the park searching for signs of wildlife, discovering plants and animals and enjoying the solitude of winter. Snowshoes are available for hike participants. Visitors need to purchase a park entrance pass. Please meet at the Apgar Visitor Center. Call 888-7800 for more information.
  • Join Flathead Audubon for a guided ‘Winter Birding and Tracking’ snowshoe hike along the river bottom trails at the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area in Kalispell, from 10am to Noon. Bring your snowshoes. Meet at the Montessori School parking lot on Willow Glen Ave. Call 249-3987 or email auduboneducator@gmail.com for more information and to register.

For more information about the above local events visit, http://flatheadcore.org/.

During the month of January there are other opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy winter trails, including a ‘Winter Walk’ on snowshoes with the Montana Wilderness Association to Stanton Lake on January 13 and a winter ecology walk in the Condon area, January 27 with Swan Valley Connections, (http://wildmontana.org) . On January 20 Glacier Nordic Club hosts Winter Trails Day from 11am to 3pm at Whitefish Lake Golf Course with free rentals, trail passes and more.

US Forest Service map prices set to increase January 1, 2018

Hay Creek Drainage - West End

Hay Creek Drainage – West End

Well, rats. USFS map prices are going up. Here’s the meat of the official press release . . .

For the first time in nearly a decade, increasing costs of production, printing, and distribution are driving the need for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service to increase the price of its maps. Prices of USFS paper and plastic coated maps will increase to $14 on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The Forest Service continually updates its maps and looks for ways to enhance maps. The Forest Service expects to shorten the revision cycle as cartographers continue to apply new digital technology to the map revision process.

The Forest Service is also working to increase the availability of digital maps. Digital maps for mobile applications can be downloaded here: http://www.avenza.com/pdf-maps/store. Digital maps cost $4.99 per side.

There are three ways to order maps from the National Forest Map Store (NFMS):

  1. Online: www.NationalForestStore.com
  2. By phone: (406) 329-3024
  3. By US Mail:

USDA Forest Service
National Forest Store
P.O. Box 7669
Missoula, MT 59807

In an effort to help offset the pricing increase for volume sales, starting Jan. 1, 2018 discount pricing will be made available on sales of 10 or more of maps of the same title. Discounted maps are only available when purchased through the NFMS.

The U.S. Forest Service is dedicated in researching, producing and distributing informative, accurate maps that can help improve the experience on America’s national forests and grasslands. Additional online resources that may help users enjoy the great outdoors:
Interactive Visitor Map to help you find great places to go and explore
Know Before You Go for tips that can help you enjoy the outdoors and be safe