An Early Fall Float on the North Fork of the Flathead
This New West article with great photos describes floating the beautiful North Fork of the Flathead from its origin in British Columbia downstream to the US border??
I linked to it because I was just there in BC to investigate, and a lot is unsaid in the article.
The North Fork of the Flathead is often described as the wildest of the 3 forks of the Flathead. It isn’t, although it is very beautiful. The Middle Fork of the Flathead in Montana is completely contained inside of designated Wildernesses or roadless areas.
The North Fork, however, is completely unprotected. A number of timber sales can be seen on nearby, and especially more distant slopes, and a number of dirt or gravel roads penetrate the area, leading to the poor and deteriorating road along the North Fork itself.
The article is seriously wrong when it says you can bounce you way up this road from Columbia Falls, Montana into B.C for the put-in. This was true 20 years ago, but the border crossing was closed long ago. The road does not go through any more, a major reason for the deterioration of much, but not all, of the road that runs in the vicinity of the river.
If you want to drive in today, you need to begin way up in B.C. near Fernie, Elko, or Sparwood.
The biggest thing is huge proposed coal pit mine just one mile from the North Fork’s origin. The mine would essentially haul away Foisey Creek Ridge and McClatchie Ridge and the high mountain basin between them. Perhaps even worse several thousand coal bed methane wells are planned near the mine. These are almost all on steep slopes and each drilling site requires an access road and clearing 5 to 20 acres.
Existing coal pits to the north have polluted the streams with toxic selenium. This mine and the wells would sit right at the head of the North Fork.
Here is a story about the area from Citizens Concerned about Coalbed Methane.
My photos from several days ago.