reported at

Sunday Falls

Recreation Site

The public toilet facility at the Sunday Falls Trailhead on the Kootenai National Forest south of Stryker, Montana was recently vandalized and rendered unusable. The toilet is currently locked and unavailable for public use.

The interior and exterior of the building were both substantially damaged by multiple gunshots. The amount of damage constitutes a felony and the incident is currently being investigated to determine who may have been responsible for the damage.

Fortine District Ranger Bryan Donner states, “Vandalism of public property on the National Forest is unfortunately common, however the extent of this particular damage was much greater that what we typically encounter. I am particularly concerned that firearms were used in this case as the potential for human injury is so much greater.”

Damage to the toilet facility will be repaired but there are no timeframes for when this will be completed. There are limited funds available for repairing recreation facilities and other higher priority needs may take precedence.

If anyone has any information about this crime, please contact the Eureka Ranger Station at 406-296-2635 or drop off information during business hours. Responses may be anonymous.

Submitted by Willie Sykes, Kootenai National Forest



Yaak Valley
Forest Council

announces new


Yaak Valley Forest Council, a private nonprofit that works to protect grizzly bears and restore the landscape of the Yaak Valley in northwest Montana, has named Aaron Peterson as its new Executive Director.

Originally from a farm in southwest Minnesota, Peterson worked as a hydrologic technician for the Kootenai National Forest in the mid-1990s before going on to serve three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from a rural district.  He brings 25 years of experience in policy and project leadership to his new role as a former legislator, nonprofit manager, and wind and solar energy project developer.  Peterson has also worked as congressional staff in Washington, D.C. on agriculture, rural development, and environmental issues. His latest experience brings him to Montana from Olympia, Wash. where he worked on salmon habitat restoration policy and programs. He holds a BS in geology and watershed science from Colorado State University and an MPA in environmental policy from the University of Washington.

“The opportunity to work in the wild Yaak will be a rewarding challenge. I’m glad to be back in rural Montana. I’m eager to start work for a well established group that has led on issues and will continue to influence grizzly bear and forest management policy, lead on climate change, and work with committed partners,” said Peterson.

Rick Bass, co-founder, author, and Board Chair stated, “This is a time of great ecological stress but also opportunity. Our grizzly bear populations remain in need, climate work needs to be done locally, and we believe Aaron’s deep and diverse background will be an asset for a wild Yaak.”

Peterson replaces co-founder Robyn King, who is retiring after 20 years as Executive Director.

“I’ve led awe-inspiring staff to keep our last wild places wild, protect inland rainforests, lead on grizzly bear protection, and restoration-based forest management. I’ll also be helping out through the end of the year with the transition and look forward to seeing what the next 20 years of community conservation will be for the YVFC.” said King.

For media inquiries contact:  Aaron Peterson | | 295-9736 |

Submitted by Ashley South, YVFC


Annie Gassman honored as FSPW volunteer of the year

Annie Gassman is one of those people who prefers action over talk.

Over the years, she’s put that attitude to work volunteering for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, educating and informing people about our wild backyard. Her volunteer work is extensive, which is exactly why she’s the FSPW Old Goat of 2020. Announced Wednesday at the annual State of the Scotchmans event, held this year over a social-distanced internet stream, the Old Goat award is the highest FSPW volunteer honor.

Annie plays a pivotal role in the Winter Tracks program in Lincoln County, spreading an appreciation for nature in the process. She’s shared her knowledge of wilderness through guided hikes. Her welcoming personality at the Kootenai Harvest Festival, on top of the work she puts in on the planning committee, shows her commitment to the community.

Annie is the epitome of a volunteer of the year. With a nod to Mr. Scotchman, the iconic monarch of the mountains, we call our highest award recipient the “Old Goat”. This name reflects the spirit of our volunteers, not necessarily their age or attitude!

While Annie’s award was the highlight of the evening, there was plenty of reason to catch the State of the Scotchmans. The event honored other valued volunteers, including John and Susan Harbuck, Anick Baribeau, Katie Raborn-Dale, Irv McGeachy, Matt Nykiel, Howard and Connie Shay and Ed Robinson. FSPW executive director Phil Hough updated attendees on the work the Friends have done in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes the new wilderness podcast Your Wild Place, available to download or stream at And FSPW program coordinator Autumn Lear explained how the Friends are organizing a summer trails and volunteer season with safety and productivity in mind.

To be a part of FSPW’s summer season, visit

Submitted by Cameron Rasmusson



businesses provide PPE for

employees at CPMC

As the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the nation, it quickly became apparent that more personal protective equipment was going to be needed for the safety of health care workers everywhere. It did not take long for our local community and its businesses to step up to the plate.

Lincoln County Credit Union contacted Cabinet Peaks Medical Center Foundation with a gift of $6000 to use towards PPE.  The hospital decided to use those funds to buy 4 new powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR’s). A PAPR is a type of respirator used to safeguard workers against contaminated air. These respirators consist of a hood that takes ambient air contaminated with one or more type of pollutant or pathogen, actively filters a sufficient proportion of these hazards, and then delivers the clean air to the user’s face or mouth. PAPR’s are reusable and may be the only type of protection available for those who do not pass the fit test to allow them to use N95 masks.

LCCU President, Lindsay Beaty, explained “Living in a small community it takes everyone pulling together to get through times like these.  And being a local financial institution that is owned by the community members, it is our responsibility to help in any way we can.  They are the reason LCCU exists.”

LCCU wasn’t the only business that contacted the Foundation about lending a hand.  Libby Auto Sales and Timberline Auto combined forces and donated a portion of their sales through April to buy PPE for healthcare workers and first responders in the Libby and Troy areas. CPMC was able to purchase over 4000 procedure masks with these funds.

It was Matt Skranak, owner of Libby Auto Sales who initially contacted the Foundation with the idea.  “We simply want to help our community out,” he stated.  Skranak then contacted Timberline, who were more than happy to join in the campaign.

In addition to these local businesses, the community itself was also involved in the safety of local essential workers. CPMC requested quilters and sewers to give of their time and talents to make cloth masks. To date, there have been over 500 masks made and donated not only to CPMC, but to all of the health care facilities in Libby.

Kate Stephens, Public Information Officer and Executive Director of the Foundation at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center praised the community for coming together during this time of need.  “Nothing beats the gumption, grit, dedication, and generosity of small town Montana and the COVID-19 pandemic is just one more example in a long line of amazing things our community, in particular, has done to come together and help each other in a time of need.  Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, CPMC Foundation, and its employees cannot say thank you enough to Lincoln County Credit Union, Libby Auto Sales, Timberline Auto Center, and the countless community members who have made, and continue to sew, cloth masks for our staff and patients.  We feel your love and support now, as much as ever, and feel truly blessed to serve south Lincoln County.”

If you have any questions about the Foundation, or how you can contribute to this cause, or other Foundation campaigns, please contact Kate Stephens at or 283-7140.

Submitted by Kate Stephens