Articles from the July 27, 2017 edition

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  • Firefighter Killed Near Seeley Lake

    Andi Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - Trenton M. Johnson, 19-year-old firefighter from Missoula, sustained injuries from a falling tree while fighting the Florence Fire on the Seeley Lake Ranger District the afternoon of July 19. Johnson was flown to Missoula but was later pronounced deceased at St. Patrick's Hospital. A small lightning fire was called in Tuesday night five miles northeast of Seeley Lake on Rice Ridge. Wednesday morning, nine firefighters from the Seeley Lake Ranger District began suppression operation...

  • Public Questions Board

    Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - Residents bombarded the Seeley Lake Sewer District (SLSD) Board with questions and comments at the board’s July 20 meeting. The “public comment” period dominated the meeting taking up three quarters of the 80-minute meeting. Topics ranged from the pending protest period to goose poop in the lake to McDonald’s coming to town. The meeting got off to a tense start when resident Don Larson asked Board President Mike Boltz when the letter of intent to incur indebtedness would be sent out. District Manager Greg Robertson started...

  • SLE Outside Likely to Vacate Store

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - During the superintendent's report at the July Seeley Lake Elementary Board meeting, Chris Stout announced that SLE Outside, the retail/rental shop in the Bison and Bear Center will likely vacate their space when the lease ends in September. "I think that's what we're going to do," said Stout. "It really hasn't worked out for our needs and... it's still fairly expensive [to lease]." SLE Outside ended up with a $10,000 deficit from November 2015-November 2016, but Stout said that...

  • Gus Receives Makeover

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE- Girard Grove near the western shore of Seeley Lake is an almost sacred space. A dirt path traces its way around the trunks of larch trees that have an approximate age of 600 years. Typically, the only noise that can be heard is the wind brushing through branches and the occasional car passing by on Boy Scout Road. Last week however, the grove took on a new cacophony of sound. Saws buzzed, drills drilled and the prize of the grove, a 1,000-year-old western larch known locally as...

  • Once a Firefighter, Always a Family

    Andi Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    "Those are the fun ones," I thought to myself as I looked at the photo of the Florence Fire sent to the Pathfinder by pilot Scott Newpower the morning of July 19. Those small fires that were less than a couple acres were fun. I put in some long, hard hours of work with incredible folks for a day or two and then we went home and onto the next fire. I miss it...spending four summers as a firefighter on the Seeley Lake Ranger District and six additional seasons between Minnesota, Alaska and...

  • Governor Bullock Declares Fire Emergency for State of Montana

    Jul 27, 2017

    MONTANA – Citing active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Governor Steve Bullock has issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana. Prior to signing the executive order, the governor was briefed by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Disaster and Emergency Services at the Department of Military Affairs. He also spoke with Rick Connell, the Incident Commander at the Lodgepole Complex area, which is currently the state’s largest fire. “Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. Our top p...

  • Dowdall's Comments Hold the Same Weight as All Other Comments

    Diann Ericson, Swan Valley, Mont.|Jul 27, 2017

    SWAN VALLEY - I am grateful to the Seeley Swan Pathfinder for the opportunity to address a topic under discussion in Swan Valley Regional Planning Committee: the edits to the Swan Valley Regional Plan by Colleen Dowdall. I wish to emphasize that the edits to the Swan Valley Regional Plan by Colleen Dowdall, a Missoula attorney, represent the comments of a local resident. The fact that she rewrote the entire plan does not change the fact that these are the comments of one of the more than 60 written comments that were presented to the Swan...

  • Semi-Truck Catches Fire

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE- A double semi-truck caught fire on Highway 83 just north of Seeley Lake on Tuesday, July 18. The fire burned for about fifteen minutes before the Seeley Lake Volunteer Fire Department put out the flames. Just before 2:30 p.m., the semi-truck was driving south down the highway when one of the brakes froze up. "It doesn't take long for those to over heat and then boom," said Seeley Lake Fire Chief Bob Vanden Heuvel. The volunteer firefighters got the call at 2:28, and were dispatched...

  • Music Festival Receives Praise: Future Uncertain

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Bob Marshall Music Festival ended more than a week ago but the work is still ongoing. Revenue and expenditure checks are still coming in, hard numbers on attendance are still being calculated and feedback is being processed. The Seeley Lake Community Foundation, the organization that put on the music festival, had a board meeting on Monday to go over the results. “We are just so excited to have done it and we’re extremely pleased with the way it seems to have boosted the economy of all the businesses here in Seeley Lak...

  • Pin Your Hometown at the Bob

    Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Swan Pathfinder asked attendees to "pin their hometown or state" on a map at the Bob Marshall Music Festival. There were 356 pins placed in the map. Half of respondents placed pins in Montana. Helena had the most pins with 24 followed by Missoula with 20. The other half placed pins in other states. All but seven states had at least one pin in them while Washington had the most with 25 followed by Utah, 12 and California with 11. Three pinned Canada and a half dozen...

  • Restoration of Fire-adapted Ecosystems - "The Era of Mega-Fires"

    John Ingebretson, Swan Valley Connections|Jul 27, 2017

    In the past decade, we have made significant progress in making the Seeley/Swan more resilient to the effects of wildfire. This has been accomplished by conducting fuel reduction treatments on hundreds of acres of private land, where cost-share funding has helped landowners reduce the risk of wildfire on their forested lands. Adjacent to these treatments and often outside the Wildland Urban Interface at higher elevations, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the US...

  • Lodgepole Attitude

    Randi de Santa Anna|Jul 27, 2017

    by Randi de Santa Anna When the bark beetles were in full swing I copped an attitude against lodgepole pines. They seemed weak and a waste of space in the forest. But I have come to understand their important role in fire ecology habitats and have adjusted my attitude. Though short-lived, lodgepole pines, Pinus contorta, are the most common Rocky Mountain tree species north of New Mexico because they are fast growing, reproduce prolifically and can inhabit almost any soil. Lodgepoles produce...

  • Revive and Thrive Creates Recreation Opportunity

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - More than 60 people came together for a volunteer work day at Fawn Pond on July 23. The Nature Conservancy hosted their sixth annual Revive and Thrive event to celebrate conservation and recreation efforts and create a new trail. Fawn Pond, a few miles west of Seeley Lake, now has a new mile-and-a-half nonmotorized trail around it. The trail includes a new bridge over Fawn Creek, which will replace a culvert downstream that has been impeding fish flow. This combination of...

  • Questions about Exempt Water Rights Addressed

    Colleen Kesterson, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SWAN VALLEY - Jim Nave, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation deputy regional manager, provided information about how to file a claim for exempt water rights filed before July 1, 1973 at the July 18 Swan Valley Community Council. Swan Lake District Ranger Rich Kehr also gave an update on the Flathead National Forest Plan and other district activities. According to the DNRC website, House Bill 110, passed in the 2017 session of the 65th Legislature, requires the DNRC to notify all property owners in Montana about their...

  • Staffing, Funding and Projects Discussed

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE- The Seeley Lake Elementary School Board of Trustees received several updates regarding staff changes, SLE Outside, the new scoreboard, parking lot paving and preschool funding at their meeting July 18. One of the first orders of business was a letter of resignation from Andrew Wyatt. Superintendent Chris Stout will make his replacement recommendations at the next meeting. At the next meeting, Stout will also provide an update on the SLE Outside store. Stout stated that it is his tentative plan for the store to vacate its current...

  • Shintangle Brings Square Dancing to Condon

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    CONDON - The Condon Ball Field was alive with music and dancing during the fourth annual Swan Valley Connections' Shintangle July 20. "Tonight is all about celebrating," said Executive Director Maria Mantas during her welcome comments. "We're really here to celebrate the fantastic place we live, the Swan Valley, and to thank our community." The event, which drew around 100 people, featured live music by the Beet Tops and square dancing all evening, along with barbecue. The event also featured...

  • Mantas Announces Retirement

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SWAN VALLEY - Maria Mantas, the executive director of Swan Valley Connections for the last four years, will be retiring this fall. "A good executive director keeps the family together, keeps the team together," said Mantas. "I call myself the head cook and dishwasher." Before her stint with SVC, she worked for the Nature Conservancy as the Science and Stewardship Director, and was a plant ecologist for the Flathead National Forest prior to that. "I've spent about 30 years doing conservation...

  • Emilia Grace Claytor

    Jul 27, 2017

    MISSOULA - Ronnie and Patrick Claytor would like to announce the birth of their daughter, Emilia Grace Claytor. She was born July 16 at 3:26 p.m. She weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces and was 21 inches long. Emilia's birth is celebrated by her family in Seeley Lake: Grandparents Michael and Lynn Richards and great grandparents Ron Richards and Glenna Casper. Grandparents Steve and Cathy Claytor of Brewton, Ala. with great grandmother Joyce Davis are happy to welcome their grandchild. Great... Full story

  • Sheep Mountain, Lolo National Forest, Trail No. 505

    Sigrid Olson, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    Directions: Turn north off Highway 200 East onto Gold Creek Road No. 126 near Potomac. Take next left up unmarked Twin Creek Road No. 2117. Stay on main road until trailhead. Total time to trailhead parking is one hour by truck and one hour, 20 minutes with a horse trailer. To access trail No. 505, go past the trailhead to the right and left up the small rocky slope where trail 505 begins. This is also the trail to the junction of trail No. 513 to Shoofly Meadows. From this trail sign it is... Full story

  • Hope Beyond Death

    Craig Wilson, Pastor - Mission Bible Fellowship|Jul 27, 2017

    From the Bible, we come to discover the descriptions of Who God is, or His attributes. Not only do we have an understanding about God, we also gain a deeper appreciation of how we can trust in God. I want to highlight the attribute that God is eternal. This means that God is not created but has always existed. There is no beginning and no end to God…the Lord exists outside of time and limits. The world around us and the visible universe is our reference for what exists. I was born in a c...

  • Abraham J. Mood 1970 ~ 2017

    Jul 27, 2017

    Abraham J. Mood died June 12 at the age of 46 years, 163 days. On June 12th his heart failed him and he died a very short time after. Abe was born Dec. 31, 1970 and lived his early years in Seeley Lake. He attended Seeley Lake Elementary School and Seeley-Swan High School. In 1987 he and his brother, Lucas, moved to Spokane, Wash. to live with their mother. Abe graduated from North Central High School, Spokane, in 1989. He worked in the Spokane area until 1999 when he joined the U.S. Army.... Full story

  • New Fire North of Seeley

    Andi Bourne, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    A load of retardant is dropped on the Rice Ridge Fire during initial attack operations July 24. The 15-acre fire is burning on the west side of Florence Lake, six miles north of Seeley Lake. A Type Three Incident Command Team has been ordered and was expected to arrive Tuesday, July 25. For updates on the Rice Ridge Fire and other incidents visit

  • Community Briefs

    Jul 27, 2017

    Fire Danger EXTREME in Missoula County - Stage 2 Restrictions Start July 27 MISSOULA - Interagency wildland fire officials with the Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) have determined fire danger to be EXTREME. Stage 2 restrictions will go into effect Thursday, July 27 at 12:01 a.m. As folks in the Missoula area can see, lightning strikes ignited multiple fires, and in the past few weeks a few have escaped initial attack. While response times have been typically fast, fires...

  • Smoke Stares Down Seeley Lake: Fire Updates

    Micah Drew, Pathfinder|Jul 27, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE – Nearly 600 people packing the gym at Seeley Lake Elementary for a fire meeting Monday, July 31. Members of the Forest Service, the Incident Management Team and other local officials addressed the attendees. The meeting served primarily as an update for the Rice Ridge Fire that is burning approximately three miles northeast of Seeley Lake. The fire started on July 24, but in the last 24 hours the fire exploded from 60 acres to 1,994 acres. During the day Monday, the fire grew 300-50...