Montana Society of American Foresters celebrated 50th anniversary

Submitted by Russ Gautreaux


Members of the Montana Society of American Foresters (SAF) recently celebrated a 50th anniversary at their annual meeting on October 13th, 14th, and 15th at Snowline Acres in Kalispell. The theme of the conference was: “Looking Back to Look Forward”. With 60 plus attendees there was no lack of corporate forest management knowledge to share. Presenters and participants also discussed what foresters are managing for now, and what the future looks like in the young timber stands that have progressed from past practices.

Founded in 1900, the SAF is a scientific and educational 501 non-profit organization, representing the forestry profession in the United States. They are considered the collective voice and community for consultants, researchers, managers, field foresters, business owners, specialists, technicians, etc. There are over 9,000 members nationwide and 200 active members in Montana. The annual state meeting is a forum to better inform the membership, and other resource professionals, of current natural resource issues.


The afternoon of Day 1 was a technical session with speakers informing attendees of the Montana Forest Action Plan, the Good Neighbor Authority and Cross Boundary and Shared Stewardship programs. Day 2 featured a fascinating presentation by forester Scott Kuehn on Historic Logging Equipment. In a perfect segue, Libby residents Jeff Gruber and Bruce Vincent individually presented their historical expertise on Lincoln County Logging and Saw Milling History as well as a perspective on how public perception of forest management has changed over the decades.

Jared Fitchett showed a video of his innovative cut to length logging operations, with cable assisted machinery

to commercially thin stands on industrial, private lands. An evening presentation by Gary Delp, of Heritage Timber was very interesting as the company was responsible for carefully taking down the enormous, old Kalispell Lumber building. The SAF conference took place in that former landmark, now located east of Kalispell and currently houses Snowline Acres, a special event venue. Heritage Timber specializes in dismantling and salvage of wood and metal from cabins, mills, barns, etc. that no longer serve their original purpose.

The morning of Day 3 was a University of Montana alumni breakfast hosted by the Dean of the School of Forestry and Conservation. Breakfast was followed by a presentation on the carbon credits market and opportunities for private land ownerships by Tom Buchholz, Senior Scientist with Spatial Informatics Group (SIG). The conference ended with folks departing on a field trip to see the results of management under the Good Neighbor Authority agreement in Good Creek, and later the Miller Creek Demonstration Forest. The Miller Creek Forest is a 5,000 acre area managed by the Flathead National Forest. It was started in 1966 as a means to study the effects of prescribed fire and varying site preparations on western larch forests. This continuous 50 year study has yielded numerous research papers and a host of practical information for forest managers and silviculturists. All in all, the conference was successful and a great way for natural resource professionals to interact and gain additional insights into past and  ongoing forest practices.

For additional information on this conference or future meetings of the Libby area chapter of SAF, contact  Russ Gautreaux  406-293-3108  email:   gotro7@outlook.com

Montana health officials confirm first influenza case in over a year

Submitted by Trista Gilmore


The Flathead City-County Health Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), has confirmed the state’s first influenza case of the 2021-2022 flu season involving a child from Flathead County.

This is the first confirmed flu case in Montana since April of 2020.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 121 confirmed flu cases as of October 16, 2021. While state and national influenza activity is currently low, activity tends to peak in December and January.

However, flu season activity is difficult to predict, and there are still many months left of this flu season which can continue through May. While there were no confirmed flu cases in Montana during the 2020-2021 season, the 2019-2020 season saw over 11,000 cases, including 514 hospitalizations, and 41 deaths. The current, low amount of influenza circulation makes this an ideal time to get an annual flu shot.

“The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the flu,” says Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek, the acting State Medical Officer for DPHHS. “One dose is effective for the full flu season, even if you get vaccinated early.”

It’s important to remember that it takes about 2 weeks for an individual’s immune system to develop protection against the flu virus. Getting vaccinated reduces the risk of death, hospitalization, illness severity, and missed days at work or school while helping to protect friends and loved ones.

Each year, the composition of the flu vaccine is matched to the type of influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation. This season’s flu vaccine is currently available and can be co-administered with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Influenza spreads through coughing and sneezing, however, it’s also possible to spread the flu one day before coming sick, and about 5-7 days afterwards. One of the primary early symptoms to watch for is fever, but additional symptoms include: chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough, body aches, and vomiting.

In addition to vaccination, everyday precautions can help stop the spread of flu. Those measures include:

If you start running a fever, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, unless you need medical care or necessities.

Covering your sneeze or cough with a tissue.

Washing your hands often with soap and water. If unavailable, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, can also be used.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially while in public places.

Avoiding close contact with sick people.

Symptoms of flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses are similar and the differences between them cannot be made based on symptoms alone. “Your medical provider might recommend testing to confirm a diagnosis and guide additional management,” Cook-Shimanek said.

For more information, visit the DPHHS influenza website at: