Governor Bullock announces Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, calls for applicants (posted 3/19/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today (Tuesday, March 19, 2019) announced that he will establish a Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to help initiate a statewide discussion on grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. The Council will be selected through an application process that ends April 12th.
"The recovery of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems is a great conservation success. Still, official federal delisting has yet to come to fruition," Bullock wrote in a memo to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Martha Williams.
"Legal uncertainty has created a void requiring our leadership," Governor Bullock said. "As bears continue to expand in numbers and habitat, we must identify durable and inclusive strategies to address current issues and prepare for the future. This advisory council represents a key step toward Montana embracing the tremendous responsibility and opportunity of long-term Grizzly Bear recovery and management."
Montana is home, in whole or in part, to four grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE); the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE); the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem; and the Bitterroot Ecosystem. While grizzly bear numbers have surpassed recovery objectives in the GYE and NCDE, they have yet to reach recovery levels in the Cabinet-Yaak and Bitterroot.
Grizzly bears in the lower 48 states are officially under the jurisdiction of the FWS, but much of the day-to-day management of bears in Montana is done by FWP in partnership and with oversight of the FWS. The FWS delisted the GYE grizzly bear population under the Endangered Species Act in 2017, but a federal court decision last fall relisted the population. This delayed the delisting process for the NCDE and resulted in an appeal of the GYE decision by the State of Montana and others.
Grizzly bear populations continue to expand, in some cases into areas they have not occupied for decades. Management challenges and conflicts have increased. FWP, along with partner agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the FWS, work together to respond to conflicts as they occur. However, the situation has become increasingly complex as bears move into areas of Montana outside of existing recovery zones, such as the Big Hole Valley, Little Belt Mountains, and the plains east of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Developing strategies to ensure a timely and appropriate response to these conflicts and addressing the needs of communities and landowners most impacted in these areas are key priorities identified for the advisory council’s deliberations.
"We’re excited to work with this advisory council, and we see this as a great opportunity to find a way forward that reflects the values and needs of Montana as it relates to grizzly bear management," FWP Director Williams said. "A council that is inclusive in its composition will allow for the balanced discussion we need to have."
The Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will be tasked with considering broad strategic objectives, such as:
- Maintaining and enhancing human safety;
- Ensuring a healthy and sustainable grizzly bear population;
- Improving timely and effective response to conflicts involving grizzly bears;
- Engaging all partners in grizzly-related outreach and conflict prevention; and
- Improving intergovernmental, interagency, and tribal coordination.
The Council will focus on providing recommendations to the Governor’s Office, FWP, and the Fish & Wildlife Commission that are clear and actionable on how to move forward with grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. It will consider several pressing issues including bear distribution, connectivity between ecosystems, conflict prevention, response protocols, outreach and education, and the role of hunting and necessary resources for long-term population sustainability.
Governor Bullock is looking for a broad cross-section of interests to serve on the Council, including livestock producers, wildlife enthusiasts, conservation groups, hunters, community leaders, Tribal Nation representatives and outdoor industry professionals.
Council application information can be found online at http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/grizzlyBear/default.html.
Turner Mountain Crazy Dayz March 23 (posted 3/19/19)
Turner Mountain Crazy Dayz March 23rd
Turner Mountain will host their Crazy Dayz event on Saturday, March 23, 2019. It will be from 9AM to 5PM. This event is family-friendly winter season fun at the ski hill. There will be games, costumes, and a little competition on the mountain.
Come dressed in costume and you could win a prize! There will be prizes for Best Super Hero, Twinning, and Retro costume.
They will also have a Cardboard Box Sled Race. There will be youth and adult heats. Bring your own decorated box. Prizes for the fastest and most creative box.
There will also be a Steady Hands and Big Pants Relay Race as part of the fun.
The ski area is located on Pipe Creek Road north of Libby.
More information can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/274611143214096/
Shopko retailer to close all remaining stores, including Libby (posted 3/19/19)
Shopko chain will close all its remaining retail stores across the country. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 16, 2019 closing more than 100 of its stores. The Libby store was spared closing at that time as the company looked for a buyer during its Chapter 11 restructuring.
The company was experiencing excessive debt and was forced to seek protection from creditors. It attempted to continue operating through Chapter 11 reorganization. The company was not able to find a suitable buyer and announced the closing of all its 250 locations on March 18th. This includes all its Montana locations, including the Libby store. All stores will be closed by summer 2019, most by June. The company reportedly has some 18,000 employees. It is headquartered near Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Shopko bought out the Pamida brand stores in 1999, which served smaller communities of 3000-8000 people, such as Libby. Pamida and Shopko merged into one company in 2012.
Additional Montana stores facing closure by June include those in Evergreen, Missoula, Billings, Helena, Sidney, Dillon, Shelby, Glasgow, Lewistown, Livingston, Kalispell, and Whitefish.
Gordon Brothers will oversee the company’s liquidation, which should take 10 to 12 weeks.
While the closing of these stores appears to be a huge hit to local economies and employees, from a business perspective it might also be an opportunity for local business entrepreneurs, if they have the capital and inclination to take advantage of the closing of the big box store in their community.
Turner Mountain Top to Dog Race March 30 (posted 3/19/19)
Turner Mountain Ski Area will host their 2019 Top to Dog Race on Saturday, March 30th. It will be from 2:00 to 5:00PM. Cost to register is $80.
Registration forms are available at Turner Mountain Ski Area Lodge, Studio B Montana, www.skiturner.com, and at the Turner Mountain Facebook event page.
The annual Top to Dog Race at Turner Mountain gives participants the opportunity to support Turner Mountain Ski Area and test their physical abilities as an individual or team!.
The race begins at 2pm at Turner Mountains midway point. The first leg is a climb (skins or snowshoes) to the top of Turner Mountain followed by skiing/snowboarding down the mountain to the lift. There participants take off those winter boots and pull on running shoes to run down Turner's access road to Pipe Creek Rd, about 3 miles, and finish the race with an about 12 mile mountain bike to the Finish at the Red Dog Saloon & Pizza on the lower end of Pipe Creek Road.
Registration fee is $80/person. There is a $20 registration fee for individuals completing all four legs solo. Registration includes a race tee and is allowed on Race Day and beginning at 11AM. Registration will be reimbursed if the race is cancelled.
For more information contact Tom Ostrowski at 406-293-3571.
Turner Ski Area Facebook page
Yaak Wings Benefit May 4 (posted 3/19/19)
The Yaak Wings Benefit will be held on Saturday, May 4. 2019 at the Yaak River Tavern, 29238 Yaak River Rd. in Yaak, Montana. It will be from 2-5PM. There will be a silent auction, bucket raffle, live music, face painting and chair massage for donation. There will be hotdogs and popcorn for sale. Mexican themed dinner will be available from 5-6PM for $10/person. The live auction will begin at 6:30PM. All proceeds go to benefit Lincoln County Wings, an organization helping families and friends undergoing cancer treatment.
Birds of Prey Day at Libby Dam May 25 (posted 4/19/19)
Libby Dam Visitor Center will have their grand opening season kickoff on Saturday, May 25 with their 8th annual Birds of Prey appreciation event from 9am-Noon. After the bird program there will be lots of fun family-friendly activities, including an opportunity to become "Bear Aware" with Kim Annis of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Public Tours of the dam will start at Noon on Saturday, May 25. The Libby Dam Visitor Center will have some open hours during the month of May. Hours will be posted on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LibbyDamMT
The Corps of Engineers at Libby Dam will be hosting a FREE 1.5 day workshop for teachers and informal educators interested in learning more about electricity and how dams work on May 2 and 3, 2019. This workshop is sponsored by The Foundation for Water and Energy Education (https://www.fwee.org). A hard-hat tour of the dam is included, as well as an optional hike at Kootenai Falls; did you know that there was once a plan to build a dam and hydropower plant near the site of the falls? Come learn more about this and other little known stories, including how an architect helped design the art deco look of Libby Dam. Call or email Park Ranger Susan James for more info and to sign up. They will have free camping downstream of the dam if participants need a place to stay.
The dam Visitor Center is taking reservations for educational tours for schools, youth groups, homeschool groups. Call Susan James, Park Ranger, to reserve a date and to sign up for the free workshop in May: 406-293-5577
Hunter, Bowhunter Education instructors honored for Years of Service (posted 3/19/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks honored the service of its Region 1 hunter and bowhunter education instructors at an annual workshop on March 9, 2019 in Kalispell.
The annual workshop is an opportunity for FWP staff and instructors from each region to review the program, discuss updates and new equipment, and to celebrate the volunteerism of the instructors.
The heart of Montana's hunter and bowhunter education programs is the corps of dedicated volunteer instructors. They stand as examples of how each hunter should demonstrate ethics, behavior and responsibility to themselves, landowners, other hunters and the resource.
At the 2019 workshop in Kalispell, several instructors were awarded for service milestones, ranging from five to 30 years. The latest honorees are listed below.
Dale Somerfield of Kalispell was named the Region 1 Instructor of the Year.
"The men and women who volunteer to mentor new hunters are skilled, passionate and dedicated to Montana’s hunting heritage and to teaching firearms safety," said Dillon Tabish, the information and education program manager for FWP Region 1.
"These instructors serve their communities in a very important way. They deserve a sincere ‘Thank you’ from all of us."
In 2018, a total of 1,561 students were certified through Montana hunter and bowhunter education in Region 1. Statewide, a total of 9,050 students were certified last year.
If anyone is interested in the future of hunting, in improving sportsmanship and safety in the field, or teaching an appreciation for the vast hunting resources in Montana, FWP encourages them to sign up to become an instructor. Visit fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter for more information. Registration is open for spring classes across the region, and students should register online at http://www.fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter
FWP Region 1 Service Milestones
5 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Megan Turner, Plains
5 Years (Hunter Ed)
Nicholas Haas, Kalispell
Russell Harbin, Polson
Grant Holle, Bigfork
Sarah Osborn, Troy
Tony Popp, Kalispell
AJ Popp, Kalispell
Chaunce Sabin, Whitefish
Wes Targerson, Polson
Dana Thingelstad, Ronan
Eruk Williamson, Polson
10 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Benjamin Valentine, Troy
10 Years (Hunter Ed)
Ben Chappelow, Eureka
Jim Jones, Troy
Doug Padden, Plains/Thompson Falls
Nathan Sommers, Kalispell
15 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Alan Kelly, Libby
Monty Long, Kalispell
20 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Peter Drowne, Bigfork
Harold Hudson, Trout Creek
20 Years (Hunter Ed)
Wayne Crismore, Plains
Bob Friedman, Kalispell
Tom Horelick, Libby
Ned Winebrenner, Hot Springs
25 Years (Bowhunter Ed)
Ron Nail, Whitefish
Larry Rattray, Proctor
25 Years (Hunter Ed)
Jon Cuthbertson, Kalispell
Patrick Flanary, Eureka
Dale Sommerfield, Kalispell
Tim Thier, Trego
30 Years (Hunter Ed)
Ron Nail, Whitefish
Donny Place, Libby
Shuttle bus to attend Columbia River Treaty Negotiations meeting March 20th (posted 3/14/19)
Lincoln County has arranged for a bus to shuttle anyone interested to the Columbia River Treaty Negotiations Meeting in Kalispell, March 20th. The bus seats 50 people so it will be on a first come, first serve basis. If you wish to reserve a seat in advance, you can by contacting Commissioner Jerry Bennett: (406) 283-2319.
The bus will leave at 3:00 p.m. from the shopping center parking lot.
The Columbia River Treaty forms an agreement between Canada and the United States concerning development and operation of hydrodams on the upper portions of the Columbia River.
The 1964 Treaty gives Canada the right to divert 26 percent of the volume of the Kootenai into the Columbia River before it comes into Montana at Canal Flats, which separates the headwaters of the Columbia, which flows north at its beginning, from the south-flowing Kootenai River. The Kootenai flows through Montana through the Libby Dam before flowing back north into Canada to join the Columbia River at Castlegar, BC.
Source: KLCB KTNY Facebook page
Local Scouts celebrate Scouting month (posted 3/1/19)
Jana Hall, Wolf and Arrow of Light Den Leader, Cub Scout Pack #4925
February was Scouting month in the United States. It was the anniversary of the founding of Boy Scouts of America. On February 8, 1910, Boys Scouts of America was started, inspired by and modeled on the Boy Scout Association established by Baden-Powell in Britain in 1908.
In order to celebrate this month, local Cub Scout Pack #4925 had boys wear their uniforms to school during Scout Week (between 2/5-9), had boys wear their uniform to church on Scout Sunday (either 2/4 or 2/11), and had a window promoting Scouts set up at Libby Sports Center. They also had a roller-skating party and pizza at the Carousel Roller rink and had their Blue and Gold Banquet to celebrate the anniversary.
The local Pack continues to work on teaching the boys about the different aspects of the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.
They want to extend their thanks to those people, businesses, and organizations that have helped them through the years. This includes the American Legion, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, Kootenai Country Art Gallery, Libby Youth Center, Elks Lodge, Heritage Museum, Lincoln Lanes, Carousel Roller rink, Timberlane Campground, Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, Northwest Community Health Center, Libby Elementary School and Public Schools, Lincoln County Commissioners – Mark Peck, and Boys Scout Troop 1971.
2019 Fishing Regulations available (posted 2/25/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
The 2019 Fishing Regulations are available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/fish/. Hard copies of the fishing regulations are available now at FWP offices and local license providers.
2019 Turkey Regulations and Applications available (posted 2/25/19)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
The 2019 Spring and Fall Turkey Regulations are available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/regulations/. Hard copies of the hunting regulations will be on the shelf at FWP offices and local license providers in March.
Turkey applications are also available online here: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/licenses/buyApply/default.html
Rare Caribou sightings reported in Northwest Montana (posted 11/5/18)
Stock photo courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana FWP working with wildlife biologists in British Columbia
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional staff have received reports of a rare sight in northwest Montana.
Residents have recently documented sightings of woodland caribou near the U.S.-Canada border. The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations.
Caribou, members of the deer family, are native to northwest Montana but have almost completely disappeared from the contiguous United States over the last half century.
Woodland caribou herds once stretched from central British Columbia to Idaho, Montana and Washington. The decline in population is largely attributed to high mortality linked to habitat fragmentation, alteration, loss of old growth forest, and subsequent predation impacts. Woodland caribou are now protected in the United States and British Columbia.
Caribou have been known to roam from the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in southern B.C into Montana, Idaho and Washington but the occurrences have become increasingly rare.
Caribou are similar in size to mule deer but have different coloration, large round hooves and unique antlers. Even cow caribou can have visible small antlers.
"There are three weeks left of big-game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and beyond," said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.
After confirming reports of the recent sightings, Montana FWP contacted wildlife biologists in British Columbia and informed them of the sightings. FWP will continue to work closely with partners in British Columbia on the conservation of the species.
Libby, Most Charming Small Town in Montana (posted 8/14/18)
Charming Libby, Montana
According to Reader's Digest
Reader’s Digest posted a story under the Travel section of their website on "The Most Charming Small Town in Every State." Libby was selected as the Most Charming Small Town for Montana. "You’ll find the heart of America in these small-town gems lost in time. Add them to your must-visit list now," said author Lyn Mettler.
"Set in view of the Cabinet Mountain Range and yet another part of Montana’s fantastic outdoors, Libby, which is located on the northwest side of the state, Libby is surrounded by lakes, fishing, hiking trails, camping, and endless scenic drives. For a local’s experience, get a taste of Montana on tap at Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company and enjoy a meal at The Black Board Bistro with a locally-sourced seasonal menu."
Click on this link for their complete list of Most Charming Towns:
lies in the northwest corner of Montana and is nestled in a valley carved by the
Kootenai River on the flank of the majestic Cabinet Mountain Range and Wilderness
about 2,800 people live within Libby proper. The main industries are lumber and
wood products, mining, tourism and recreation. The movies "The River Wild" and
"Always" were filmed here. Contact the Libby
Chamber of Commerce for brochures, info on lodging and events, general area
information, and contact information for local businesses and services.
When the weather warms and the mountain
snows melt away, the Kootenai National Forest comes alive with over 2.2
million acres of public land as a playground. Mountain trails and lakes
open up, beautiful wildflowers come in bloom, and wildlife have their young.
Libby is the basecamp for the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area, 90-mile
long Lake Koocanusa, the Northwest Peaks Scenic Area, and the Ten Lakes
Scenic Area. There is good access to most of the Forest and plenty of room
to get away from it all!
Winter in Montana means snow, and lots
of it! For those who love to play in the deep powder, the Libby area offers tremendous
winter fun. Turner Mountain Ski Area, located
just 22 miles from Libby, offers challenging downhill skiing with a beautiful
view. Their slogan is "steep, deep and cheap", and Turner definitely
lives up to that. It's still fairly undiscovered, so you can escape the crowds
and get the cheapest lift tickets around. For those who love snowmobiling,
there are hundreds of miles of backcountry roads to sled on in the Kootenai National
Forest. Cross-country skiers and ice fishermen also can find solitude on a lake
and miles of quiet forest trails to enjoy the outdoors. Those who are a bit on
the wild and crazy side will love the antics of the Libby Polar Bear Club.
Members take winter-time "swims" in frigid Libby Creek every Sunday
from October to April. Plungers have ranged in age from 3 to 61. As long as the
ice can be broken on the creek, if it has formed, the group will take their plunge,
no matter the temperature.
These people must be
Polar Bear Club