Katrin Frye

Flathead Reporter

Katrin Frye reports twice weekly on northwest Montana news from her native Flathead Valley. Frye is a graduate of the University Of Montana School Of Journalism and Davidson Honors College. Before coming on board with MTPR, she reported for the local CBS affiliate in the Flathead Valley, and worked as a contributing writer to the weekly paper the Flathead Beacon. Her reports covering the news of the Flathead Valley and northwest Montana have been heard on National Public Radio’s Evening Edition, NPR News and National Native News.

Ways To Connect

Katrin Frye

The first of what organizers plan to be an annual race took place on Saturday, July 26th in the Flathead featuring a Spartan-style-obstacle race for people with disabilities. The race brought together several organizations including Special Olympics, Care Farms, the Lighthouse Christian Home, and the Special Friends Advocacy Program.

Rachel Grant works with the Care Farm Program through A-Plus-Home-Healthcare of Kalispell. Grant helped plan this “Farm-Style” Obstacle race.


Lightning storms have kindled several fires in the greater Flathead area, but rain coming with those storms has kept fire danger in check.

Information Officer Wade Muehlhof for the Northwest Zone for Fire Restrictions says most activity has centered on the North Fork of the Flathead River.

50 Years Of Wilderness

Aug 1, 2014
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation

First, a clarification: the 1964 Wilderness Act provides for areas where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” Executive Director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation Carol Treadwell said it’s commonly confused as untrampled.

“Untrammeled means uncontrolled. So, in a natural state, letting natural things take place and not being tweaked by human influences. It’s there for the wildlife, and so that we can have wild experiences,” Treadwell said.

Katrin Frye

Boat check stations have been set up across the state for three years, but this is the first year stopping is mandatory. Region One Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Captain Lee Anderson says inspectors are looking for aquatic invasive species, and *everyone* has to stop.

“Whether it’s a motorized boat or a non motorized boat. If it’s an actual vessel, then they would. So, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, all those have to stop, the only ones that wouldn’t would be like a pool toy,” Anderson said.

Katrin Frye

Training a workforce for a growing gun manufacturing industry is the goal behind a new program at the Flathead Valley Community College. This fall, FVCC will offer a new Firearms Technology Certificate.

Fred Zeglin is coordinating the program. He said there are about 15-gun manufacturers in the Flathead, and he spoke with a number of them about what they’re looking for.

The Salish Kootenai College is one of four tribal colleges or universities, nationwide, to receive a grant from NASA to develop climate change curriculum. The grants come from NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project, and range from $413,000 to $1,009,000.

Katrin Frye

A new family-medicine residency program in western Montana aims to develop and keep a next generation of family physicians in the state.

Dr. Justin Buls is the Kalispell Site Director for the new Family Medicine Residency for Western Montana. This new program is a partnership between the University of Montana, two Missoula hospitals, Missoula’s Partnership Community Health Center, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and the Flathead Community Health Center.

Buls said Montana ranks last in the country in graduating residents and training physicians.

Katrin Frye

After 70 years the bulk of the businesses in West Glacier have changed hands from one family, to an Arizona-based Corporation. Glacier Park Incorporated runs several hotels and businesses in the area surrounding Glacier Park, and had been the concessions contractor for the in-Park hotels for thirty-plus years before losing the contract to Xanterra last year.

N. Fork Flathead River
Katrin Frye

Waterton-Glacier International Peace park connects over the US-Canada border between Montana and Alberta. However, the two parks don’t match up in their cross-border boundary.

Glacier Park stretches west to encompass the North Fork Flathead River Valley, but the Canadian Flathead is not part of the Park. The Canadian Flathead is Provincial land, akin to state or forest service land in the US, and offering the potential for logging or mineral development. Conservationists have been angling to “Complete the Park” by expanding Waterton into the North Fork Valley.

Katrin Frye

A large scale conservation project to restore genetically pure west slope cutthroat trout in northwest Montana nears the finish line. Three of 21 lakes remain for Fish, Wildlife and Parks to treat as part of the South Fork West Slope Cutthroat Trout Project.

Fisheries Biologist Matt Boyer said this September they’ll be working on Koessler Lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This lake they’ll be treating with a poison called Rotenone and re-stocking with genetically pure West Slope Cutthroat Trout.

Katrin Frye

On the hill outside a Somers home a group of men and one woman are working on a 1968 Kaiser military truck.

“The frame underneath; you can see the line of green is going to cross underneath there- that’ll be OD Green. And then the frame is going to be black,” Dale Cordell served in the Army in Vietnam between 1970 and 1971. Cordell is a member of the recently formed Chapter 1087 of the Vietnam Veterans.

Dan Boyce

Businesses are hiring and construction across the greater Flathead has been picking up, but many are still heading east and sending money home. Kramer Enterprises Incorporated of Evergreen, east of Kalispell is one of those companies. President and CEO Terry Kramer said his company handles commercial and heavy industrial projects mainly, as well as large residential or multi-use projects.

Steve Corey/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecorey/6335951002/

You could say service is a tradition in Madeline Steeley’s family. She served in the US Air Force.

“Both of my daughters went into the Marine Corps, one just came out after 13 years, the other, after five. Both, heavily disabled. I have a son-in-law that came out of the Marine Corps, another son-in-law that came out of the Navy. My daughters’ father retired after 20 years Air Force. So, I have quite a bit of experience with the military,” Steeley said.


Record breaking rains in the Flathead keep the rivers high and caused the National Weather Service to call for caution. The National Weather Service is calling for the clearing skies of Thursday to continue over the next couple of days with a high pressure system coming in, and temperatures moving up from the 40’s of mid-week, to the 80’s. However, it is also calling for rivers and streams to remain high and muddy through the weekend with the greatest concern the North, Middle, and main stems of the Flathead River.

Katrin Frye

An explosion and fire at one of Plum Creeks’ Columbia Falls plants Tuesday June 10th will keep the operation shut down a month. The fire happened in the Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) Plant, the neighboring sawmill and plywood mill were unaffected, and operations continue at those facilities.

Vice President of Northwest Resources and Manufacturing for Plum Creek Tom Ray said more than 60 workers on shift at the time evacuated safely.

Katrin Frye

Two alternative ways of getting teens to achieve their high school diplomas came together in Kalispell about a year ago. Director of the Linderman Education Center Jodie Barber says the Bridge Academy was one of the first in the state to offer an online graduation option for students.

National Park Service

Visitors to Glacier Park’s Logan Pass have likely seen and perhaps been followed by the Parks iconic mountain goats. This summer you might notice something a little different, goats with radio collars. Natural Resources Program Manager Mark Biel with the Park says researchers are looking to find out where the goats go in the fall and winter, if the goats that hang at Logan Pass are the same few goats, or several different herds, and who’s driving the human-goat interactions.

Flathead Conservation District

On June 7th, 1964 a warm weather system swept into Montana, dropping 10-to-12-inches of rain over the course of two days. The rapid snowmelt combined with the heavy downpour led the rivers to quickly overflow. Long-time Columbia Falls resident Ron Buentemeier says there had been high water years and flooding in the past, but in 1964 the water came up much faster than anticipated.

Katrin Frye

While water rights lawsuits bop around state and federal courthouses there is technically no legal method of drilling a well on the Flathead Reservation, and hasn’t been since 1996. However, new wells and water uses have been allowed on the reservation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes since. Tribal Spokesman Robert McDonald said they didn’t want to halt progress or development, however, he says there isn’t a legally valid way to dig a new well. There’s no governing structure in place so no change of use permits or new well permits.

The All Families Healthcare office was broken into in early March and vandalized to an extent that made it unable to reopen. This has been the only medical office in the Flathead Valley to offer abortion services.

The break-in prompted the Montana Human Rights Network and NARAL/ProChoice-Montana to raise funds to help Physicians Assistant Susan Cahill who runs the office, cover the costs of the damage.

Mike Roessmann

Summer rushes in on the rising waters of the rivers around northwest Montana. Each year for 39 years in Bigfork it's also announced through the annual Whitewater Festival.

This years festival featured kayaks and rafts braving the Class IV rapids on the "Wild Mile" of the Swan River, as well as Stand Up Paddleboards.

The two-day event features beginner and expert slalom races judged by time and accuracy as paddlers maneuver down the river through specially market gates.

Katrin Frye

Lacrosse is a common sport from elementary school on up through college on the east coast. In Montana it’s relatively new with high school aged boys teams and younger growing over the past decade, and girls teams just a couple of years old.

This past weekend the third ever state championship tournament was held in Whitefish. Flathead Boys Lacrosse Coach Matt Rizzolo is coaching the Valley-wide high school team.

Katrin Frye

Each May for about two decades the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have held a River Honoring and invited children from across the reservation and beyond. The honoring started in 1986 in response to a push for additional dams below Kerr Dam, along the lower Flathead River.

Education Specialist Germaine White with the Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation said the Tribal Culture Committee was very concerned about a disturbance to the river.

Robin Mooring

Judy Breland has gone horse packing before, in fact, her husband Andy Breland is teaching the back country horse packing workshop she’s taking. Plus, the family has a store, Trailhead Supply, that sells horse packing equipment.

Katrin Frye

Montana is counted among the fastest growing states for an aging population. In a nod to the state’s aging demographic the 46th annual Governors Conference on Aging looked at issues specifically effecting seniors including transportation, health, and safety. The two-day event took place in Kalispell and Bozeman this week.

It also offers an opportunity to recognize Montana’s centenarians.

Katrin Frye

Finding common ground in the forest is one of the key goals of the Family Forestry Expo in the Flathead, and it has been since the Expo first came together 25-years-ago. May 5-9, fifth graders from across the area head to a section of forest on the outskirts of Columbia Falls learning about fisheries, forest fire, back country camping and safety, logging, and more.

Spotted Bear District Ranger Deb Mucklow with the Flathead National Forest worked on the very first Forestry Expo in 1989. She said there was a lot of polarization on natural resources issues.

Every ten years Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks goes back to the drawing board to look at fees, license costs, and its budget.

Administrator of Communication and Education Ron Aasheim said a Council recently came out with a series of recommendations including raising fees on hunting and fishing licenses. Aasheim said without a fee increase, redirected funding, or budget cuts, the agency is facing a $5.7-million shortfall by the end of 2017.

Katrin Frye

High School art students from around the state converge on one town each year for a 24-hour workshop-blitz. This year Kalispell’s Glacier High and Flathead Valley Community College housed more than 200-students learning jewelry making, painting, printmaking and numerous other techniques. The students from 18 different Montana schools came to the Flathead Friday through Saturday as part of the 2014 Montana Art Interscholastic event.

Workshops range from familiar sounding art classes like oil painting and watercolor workshop, to edible art, and urban art.

Major environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Endangered Species Act followed the first earth day celebration in April of 1970. Whitefish resident Steve Thompson is hoping the growth of local efforts across the country will again have a similar effect, this time in relation to climate change.

Katrin Frye

The potential to lose a popular access to Flathead Lake’s north shore rallies the community of Bigfork and shines a light on the issue of private property and public access to water. The access in question is a county-right-of way, running through government and private land on the north shore of the lake. There’s a US Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Area and a state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Fisheries Conservation area, both currently closed to the public. The waterfowl production area stays closed to public access from March into July while birds are nesting.