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

Tony Anderson

Aquatic Invasive Species, Bucket Biology, lake trout suppression, public access, and family fishing are among the topics that have ruled Jim Vashro’s last thirty years with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Vashro is retiring as the Region One Fisheries Manager for F-W-P with the end of this year. Region One includes Flathead Lake as well as numerous other lakes, rivers and streams in northwest Montana. Vashro said Flathead Lake was just one of more than one hundred lakes that had Mysis shrimp introduced, but arguably saw the most profound change.

Shopping, cooking, tying up loose ends at work, family coming in… the list of holiday prep goes on. Joyce Billmayer of Conrad Floral in the Flathead has found a way to make a traditionally slower season busy by helping people one of those things off their list: holiday decorating.

Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye catches up with Billmayer as she preps to put the finishing touches on a home all-dolled-up for the holidays.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are stepping up to fill a transportation gap between the Flathead, Mission, and Missoula Valleys. Transit Section Superintendent David Jacobs with the Montana Department of Transportation says Rimrock Stages was handling bus service from Missoula to Kalispell.

He said it was shut down by the Federal Motor Carriers Service Administration for non-compliance last March. He said the MDOT was waiting to see if Rimrock Stages would come back into compliance.

Katrin Frye

“My dad started with one cow 35 years ago, they loved the animal, and we grew to 200 head, because of the animal, and so, I like people to understand that we sell the milk to keep the cows- it’s not the other way around,” Mary Tuck is Vice President and owner of Kalispell Kreamery.

It’s the last of the Flathead dairy farms in an area that used to boast more than forty. Kalispell Kreamery evolved from her family dairy farm; Hedstrom Dairy.

Eric Knoff

The avalanche education, training and information outlet in the Flathead has been in flux over the past few years with old partnerships ending, and new ones forming. The National Forest is hoping to build partnerships and answer some of the demand for upgraded services through the Flathead Avalanche Center.               

The Center recently hired a part-time director Erich Peitzsch. He works for the US Geological Survey based in Glacier Park as a Physical Scientist. He has also been the Avalanche Forecaster during spring plowing on the Going to the Sun Road.

Katrin Frye

It’s not quite the ski patroller Olympics I was hoping for; skiing backwards, jumping through hoops, blindfolded…

In fact, when I showed up to the Whitefish Mountain Resort patrollers are inside, practicing specific stretches shown to them by a local physical therapist.

President of the Big Mountain Ski Patrol Incorporated Ryan Friel was, however, wearing ski boots.


Cultivating organic seeds and genetically modified crops are among the topics farmers are meeting to discuss in the Flathead next week. The annual Montana Organic Association Conference is being held in the Flathead for the first time.

Judy Osowitz of Terrapin Farm in has been farming in rural Whitefish for 36-years.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes, I’ve seen a lot more demand for organic, I’ve seen a lot more supply of organic- which is a good thing, to have both, it’s wonderful,” Osowitz said.

Katrin Frye

The idea of farm work as therapy takes root in the Flathead with several working farms opening their doors a couple times a week to people with disabilities. The Flathead Valley has seven Care Farms as of last spring. It’s an effort spearheaded by Maarten Fischer of the A-Plus-Home Healthcare of the Flathead, Fischer also teaches a multifunctional agriculture course at Flathead Valley Community College.


Think of your memory as layers upon layers stacked on top of one another. Registered Nurse Jennifer Crowley specializes in working with patients with Alzheimer’s. Crowley said for people with Alzheimer’s new memories are the top-most layers, and they roll right off and get lost. She conducts Memory Screenings which identify risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment disorders. The exam tests short term memory and looks at a person’s understanding of the world around them.

Katrin Frye

Hiring and training staff, keeping the books in order, and getting more customers in the door are among the topics being studied in business management classes everywhere. Applying those hypothetical models to real-life situations is the goal of an advanced business class at Flathead High School. Instructor Jesse Rumsey teaches the Business Management class offered through Flathead High School’s International Baccalaureate program.

Katrin Frye

The snow line has crept down the mountainsides even though much of the Flathead Valley floor remains snow-free. Public Relations manager for the Whitefish Mountain Resort Riley Polumbus said the mountain is prepping for its December 7th opening.  

The storm over the weekend brought enough snow to cover the hill even down at the base lodge. Polumbus said they measured 30 inches of snow at the Summit on Friday afternoon, it was up to 48 inches Saturday afternoon, and then another 5 inches fell by Sunday morning.

Katrin Frye

It took private investment of more than $10-million to create Two Bear Air, a dedicated search and rescue air support service in the Flathead.

Former Flathead County Undersheriff Jordan White teamed up with Whitefish philanthropist Mike Goguen to create the non-profit. Goguen comes from a business background with a capital investment firm known for its support of entities like Google and YouTube.  Paying for Two Bear Air is one of several philanthropic investments he’s made in the Flathead.

White described the organization as privately funded for a public purpose.

Local electric co-ops are writing checks for a different kind of energy bill. Flathead Electric Co-op in Kalispell recently wrote a check to Plum Creek for more than $380,000. It’s for energy efficiency upgrades at the lumber company’s sawmill. Promoting energy efficiency is something F-E-C is doing with the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Smart Industrial Program incentives.

Key Accounts Representative Don Newton with FEC said it’s actually in the Co-op’s best interest to get members to lower their electric bills.

Bigfork High School Cave Club

Where bats hibernate, how warm or cold, and how dry or damp the environment is, are questions being asked as researchers and recreationists explore Montana’s caves.

Bat Specialist Dr. Cori Lausen with Wildlife Conservation Society Canada says some species of bats are facing potential extinction because of the White Nose Syndrome which has been decimating bat populations along the east coast, and is spreading west.

Katrin Frye

Getting fresh fruits and veggies onto kids’ plates is one of the goals of local farm-to-school efforts. This idea of buying local is going national with support from the U-S Department of Agriculture. The USDA recently conducted a census of schools across the state and the country.

USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said the farm-to-school model fits in with new school meal requirements calling for schools to serve fruits and vegetables every day.

Katrin Frye

Before the railroad came through and made Kalispell, Kalispell, there was Demersville (de-MARS-ville). The small community had an eatery, saloon, hotel, and mercantile, but died practically overnight when in 18-91 the railroad came through the Flathead several miles north of the fledgling town. Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye takes us to all that remains of Demersville, the cemetery.

Katrin Frye

“This is a really good place to recruit to,” Dr. A. Craig Eddy works as the Chief Medical Officer at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and is in charge of recruiting.

Eddy said the Flathead is a great place, but not because of the salary.

Katrin Frye

As part of our ongoing series in Montana Public Media's "Climate Week", we focus on the impact of climate change on Montana's waters, and the native fish adapted to thrive in cold, glacier-fed streams.

Cold water fish like west slope cutthroat and bull trout call northwest Montana home. However, these native fish could be considered the canary in the coal mine in regard to the effects of climate change. Warming waters, changes in spring runoff, and mid-winter rainfall are among the issues affecting the habitat for these fish.

Katrin Frye

Yes, it’s not quite Halloween yet, but businesses are already gearing up for Christmas. Over the past couple of years a buy local effort has been growing. While many people have heard of “Black Friday” as the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is gaining traction. T

Katrin Frye

Barricades came down, open signs switched on, and employees went back to work as Glacier National Park reopened. The partial government shutdown closed the national parks October first.

Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann says the Park had about 20 to 30 people working during the shutdown. As of Thursday about 250 employees were back on.

She said a lot of the work going on right now involves getting housing and lodging buttoned up for the winter.

Flathead County Agency on Aging

Montana’s population is aging, and the number of people aged 65-and older living in Montana is expected to keep growing.

A report from the state Department of Health and Human Services says in 2000 Montana ranked 14th in the nation in the percentage of its population aged 65 or older.

That rank is expected to jump to 5th by the year 20-25.

Connecting this population with the necessary health services is part of an effort that brings together several organizations for seniors.

Katrin Frye

Businesses around the closed Glacier Park are feeling the pinch from the partial government shutdown. The fall is generally winding-down season as services in Glacier Park winterize. Many of the businesses have already shutdown for the season. Darwon Stoneman is owner, and one of the original founders of Glacier Raft Company in West Glacier, which started up in 1976. Stoneman says fishing and rafting are done this time of year, and they’ve closed up the retail shop, but they still offer cabin rentals.

Craig Moore, GlacierWorld

The number of people being killed in avalanches in Montana has been growing over the years. New avalanche education opportunities have been cropping up to combat this trend.         The Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop started up three years ago in the Flathead

The Workshop features a range of speakers presenting on weather conditions, avalanche safety, forecasting, and more as well as back country winter safety gear representatives.

Katrin Frye

A grassroots human rights organization in the Flathead is building upon its anti-hate message, literally. The group “Love Lives Here” teamed up with local artists and people from across the community created ceramic tiles spelling out messages of love and peace through words and pictures. The first step of this project happened with the construction of a tile-lined gazebo in 2008. This month the group is unveiling several tiled-lined benches as an addition to the monument.

Katrin Frye

Arguably the most visible effect of the government shutdown is the closure of 401 National Parks, including Glacier Park. Glacier counts on an average of 50 to 60 thousand visitors in the month of October. Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann with the Park said there has been confusion, and surprise about the Park being closed.

Katrin Frye

After years of raising money, securing a buyer, and months of construction F-H Stoltze Land and Lumber’s cogeneration plant is running. The plant will be providing up to 2.5-megawatts of power to the Flathead Electric Co-op for 20-years. That boils down enough to power between 1,800 and 2,500 homes. Plant Manager Bryan O’Connor said the biomass boiler burns a mix of sawdust, bark, and wood chips produced from the sawmill to produce steam which then is used to dry lumber, and to turn a turbine which generates energy for the power grid.

Katrin Frye

The Glacier Youth Corps Partnership just wrapped up the first of two summers of volunteer work at the Park. Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Kusky with Glacier said the Partnership is an opportunity for the Park to get different projects completed, and for the volunteers to learn about careers in the Park Service. Kusky said the project also aims to connect the next generation with Glacier Park.

Bull trout
flickr/USFWS Headquarters

The Flathead Lake fishery has cultural, ecological, and economic significance for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the south end of the lake, and for the non-tribal land around the north end. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Tribes have been co-managing the lake, but disagree over the best way to discourage non-native lake trout dominance over native trout.  


Google annually recognizes one city from each state as that states “e-city.” An e-city has a strong presence online with businesses across the community using websites, blogs, and social media to connect with their clients. It’s also a community made up of businesses that show a strong likelihood of growth in the digital economy. For 2013 in Montana Google chose Whitefish. Chief Product Officer John Frandsen of Old Town Creative said he’s not so surprised Whitefish won out.

Katrin Frye

Boaters traveling from water body to water body, and travelers passing through the state may have noticed something new this summer.

Mandatory boat check stations are not new to the state, but increased funding means there are more of them.

Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist Linnaea  Schroeer with Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the state set up 20-mandatory check stations this summer, up from 16 the year before.

She said Montana is one of only 5-states free of zebra and quagga mussels.

The others include Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming.