Wild raptors

Flathead Audubon and the Montana Wild Wings Recovery Center will team up Saturday, Sept. 13, for birders to get up close and personal with eagles, hawks, owls and other injured or recovering birds at the only federally-permitted rehabilitation facility in the Flathead Valley. The field trip is limited to 25 persons and will take about two hours. Families and individuals of all ages are welcome. Sign up by e-mailing Doug MacCarter at dsmaccarter@gmail.com or calling 602-663-8611.

Montana State Parks will partner with the Flathead Audubon Society to present the eighth annual Raptor Day at Lone Pine State Park on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. A community bird walk will kick off the event followed by a short address from Flathead Audubon. The family of Rod Ash, Doug McCarter and colleagues from Montana Wildwings Recovery Center will give a dynamic presentation with live birds at 1:30 p.m. Bring a sack lunch or purchase lunch from Bennie’s Dog House. Lone Pine will provide activities for kids during breaks.

Packrafting offers a new way to see the Bob

The Hungry Horse News reports that packrafting offers a new way for hardy adventurers to experience the backcountry. Along with tents, sleeping bags, food and other gear, each person in a group also carries a small inflatable single-person raft. For most backpackers, lakes and creeks are barriers, said Scott Bosse, Northern Rockies director for American Rivers in Bozeman. But the opposite is true for rafters and kayakers, for whom land is a barrier.  Read the full story here.

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights have been seen on the North Fork by several folks over the last week and the aurora borealis forecast website predicts that the chances of them reappearing in the next 24 hours is high.  Although the weather forecast says that clouds tonight are likely, you might want to take a look out your window and check out the northern sky.  If you see them or get a picture, please let us know!

MagoGuide Book Signing at the Northern Lights Saloon

First, a big hello to NFNews fans Jerry and Judy who we met on the hike to Cyclone and again at the Northern Lights Saloon.  Nice to see you and here’s the promised photo!

Jerry & Judy

Team Mago set up our table at the Northern Lights Saloon in Polebridge, Montana on Saturday evening for a book signing, a beer, and a little pizza.  You can read the full story with the rest of the photos on our MagoGuide.com website.

Morgan signing books at the Northern Lights Saloon

Hike to see Debo at Cyclone Lookout

NFNews contributor Debo Powers had been babysitting Cyclone lookout for the past several days and will continue to do so through Tuesday morning.  Unfortunately her iPad doesn’t connect with the network at the lookout, so we’ll have to wait until she returns to civilization to hear what happened while she was there.  In the meantime, here’s a beautiful photo that she took of an early morning at the lookout.

Early morning at Cyclone Lookout by Debo PowersYesterday the rest of the NFNews Team took advantage of Debo being at the lookout to hike up and get a tour. Continue reading

Southeastern Montana Antelope Populations Slowly Recovering

Recent surveys across Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Region 7 indicate that antelope populations are recovering but remain well below long-term averages. Wildlife biologists completed seven population trend surveys across the region and observed 1,867 antelope; similar numbers to last year. Overall antelope numbers across the region remain 50% below long-term average and 66% below the ten year peak count that occurred in 2006. Continue reading

Plan your fall assault on noxious weeds

What can you do right now?

There is a whole list of noxious weeds that, in small batches, hand pulling right now is both possible and effective.  Examples include spotted and diffuse knapweed, common tansy, hounds tongue, and tansy ragwort.  In very small patches or new starts you can even try hand pulling ox-ey daisy,  Russian knapweed, dalmation toadflax, St. Johnswort, meadow and orange hawkweed, and field bindweed.

For more information on each of these, there’s an excellent website called Weed Control Association.  There is also some excellent materials that have been collected by the NFLA Weed Committee (Val Cox in particular) available at the Sondreson Community Hall.  The next NFLA meeting is scheduled for 8PM on Sat. Sept. 6th.  That would be a good time to pick up these materials.

If your weed problem is too large to hand pull, however, you might be considering spraying with a herbicide.  Although spraying right now will not do any good, you can be getting ready for what’s called the “fall regrowth.” These are the warm, dry days right after the first hard frost.  The frost stops flower production and the plants refocus their energy away from reproduction and towards growth.  This means that what you spray on will be sucked down to the roots of the plants and have the greatest effect.

This doesn’t work for all noxious weeds.  Following is a list of the most common, however, on which this fall effort will reap rewards: spotted and diffuse knapweed, leafy spurge, canada thistle, field bindweed, and tansy ragwort.  Your largest weed problem might well also benefit even if it’s not on this list.  You should check an authority (see below).

 Getting ready for a fall spraying

There are several things you can do right now to get ready for a fall spraying.  The most important thing would be to visit Linda at CHS in Kalispell and get a consultation on your weeds.  She can tell you what equipment you need and what herbicide would work for your particular problem.  Her number is (406) 755-7427 and the store is located at 55 4th Ave E N in Kalispell.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • Did you know you can rent equipment cheap from the Flathead County Weeds Department? Three gallon backpack sprayers rent for $10 and may be used for two days. Five 100-gallon and one 200-gallon skid mounted sprayers rent for $25 Monday through Thursday.  Check out all the details on this page.  There is also equipment available for free in Polebridge.  I believe that John Frederick has information on this.  You can contact him at the NFPA website.
  • Did you know that the ratio of herbicide to water is dependent on your equipment and your application? Now is a good time to do a careful calibration of your equipment and the Flathead County Weeds Department, again, has an excellent guide on how to do that.  Download that guide from here.
  • Do you know what a surfactant is?  You add it to certain herbicides to help with their absorption in the plants.  If a herbicide says to use a surfactant, then don’t skip it or you’ll be wasting your time and money on the spraying.  Again, ask Linda at CHS all about surfactants.
  • Have you ever used purple dye? This is something you add to the mix so that you can see where you’ve already sprayed.  This saves time and money. It’s especially nice because you can see when you’ve gotten the spray on you or your equipment.  It costs money, but you’re saving a lot, including your own skin, in the long run.
  • Do you have to spray every year? No, but a single application isn’t sufficient for long term control. Depending on the severity of the infestation and type of weed,  spraying is recommended for at least 2 to 3 consecutive years. After 3 years you should see a noticeable difference and native species will re-establish. Re-seeding bare areas will accelerate the process. Annual inspections and spot treatments should be conducted as many noxious weeds seeds remain viable in the ground for 10-15 years. Also, unfortunately, new noxious weeds will arrive on your property from equipment coming up the drive, friends visiting, and infestations that are bordering your place.  It’s a fact of life on the North Fork that if you own property, the weeds will come.