He wants more data

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I read with interest Chris Peterson’s report on the recent public meeting aimed at developing a new comprehensive river plan.

One paragraph was of particular interest to me.

It read “several members of the crowd said they needed data to make informed decisions and noted that there have been past studies that should be available. Officials said there is data — but it’s in raw form. Once analyzed, it would be made available.” The Forest Service later provided a link to the data that they have — a report that is titled “hydrologic, water-quality, and biological characteristics of the North Fork Flathead River, Montana, water years 2007-2008.” The report was finally published in 2013.

Some of us had read that report when it first came out — here’s what my neighbor had to say to the Forest Service:

“After a careful review of this report, I find that it is the same report we got several years ago. Is there anything that indicates that any new water quality and or a baseline study of the water quality, that had been done in the past 10 years? If not, then no one can and should not say that the water is pristine. If there are no studies that indicate “pristine” other than opinion that cannot be said until there is factual study done. Hanging your hat on a 10 year old study will not be acceptable.”

I agree.

What’s troubling here is that environmental activists apparently don’t agree, otherwise they would be publicly outraged and most likely suing to get accurate up to date data.

In that 5 year old study with 10 year old data—the author wrote that “nearly all of the major western tributaries of the North Fork have been previously listed on Montana’s 303(d) list as impaired for cold-water fisheries owing to sediment loading associated with erosion of unpaved roads.”

While I have long been a proponent of paving the North Fork Road, I have always stated that if the dust and the sediment from that unpaved road are not harming the air and water quality — then I give up and will let those who oppose paving alone.

Toward that end — I wrote the author and asked whether there is any particular data available with regards to both dust and runoff from the North Fork Road, parts of which has been treated with chemicals over the past two years.

Here’s what he wrote back.

“To be honest, I’m not sure if any of our data we are collecting now or that are in that report ... will properly address dust or other contaminants from the North Fork Road. That issue would likely require a fairly detailed effort with specific methods and parameters designed to look at the source and eventual fate of anything that might be coming off the road (relative to natural sediments, etc.) — it would get complicated really quickly (but would be interesting for sure).”

We are repeatedly told that the scientific data that proves global warming is irrefutable.

Park officials and self proclaimed environmentalists see no evidence that dust from the road is harmful to the air or water quality or to the glaciers.

Scientific data — they have none.

As for the Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey — their data is old and insufficient.

In another article in last week’s Hungry Horse News, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said that decisions made by his department are based on science not agendas.

Apparently when it comes to learning whether this unpaved road is harmful to the air and water and the glaciers — government officials and self-proclaimed environmentalists oppose paving based it on their agenda and not science.

Before there are more meetings to come up with a river plan — I suggest we get accurate up to date scientific data first — as we have little or none.

Joe Novak

Polebridge

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