Winter birders in action. Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian.



Elementary School

invites the community for hall walking

As a courtesy to the community, LES will be offering Hall Walking, weeknights from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m., effective immediately. Please be mindful of the following;

-Please bring clean, dry, indoor footwear
-Adults only (18 and over), no children (including strollers) and no pets
-Walking only please, no running permitted
-Halls are not open on weekends or during school holidays
-Please do not come in before 4:30 or stay past 6:30
-LES is not responsible for items lost or stolen while walking.

Submitted by LES


Libby Area Trails Group Meets

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, the Libby Area Trails meeting was held at the Venture Inn. The group includes highly qualified professionals with a sincere desire to assist our communities with planning and implementation of recreational and trails projects.

The quality and timely completion of these projects are expected to enhance recreation for residents and to attract and satisfy visiting outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

The City of Libby, Lincoln County, and the Libby Park Board each agreed to contribute money towards hiring an independent contractor to act as a park district project manager to identify, develop, and put into effect new recreational and trail works.

Under the general umbrella of the Greater Libby Area Trails Plan, the contractor oversees multifaceted and sometimes complex projects, and helps coordinate multiple agencies and groups in this effort. The individual selected for this position was Tony Petrusha, of Cabinet Country Consulting, LLC.

Petrusha’s education and background in engineering help him in his role as point man for discussions about issues and planning for diversified aspects of each undertaking. Each group involved has slightly different concerns and desires. All work to be empathetic to other points of view, and exhibit patience to unravelling the governmental regulations that protect and enhance these affairs, but can also complicate and delay progress.

The group assembled on Tuesday cast aside minor differences in perspectives and passionately worked on their goals list for the meeting. Team member, Tina Oliphant, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Port Authority, and member of the Kootenai River Development Council brought up the topic of Way Finding Signs, and installing them as weather permits. Oliphant also volunteered to become a member of the newly established Board of Directors of the group and she is helping to work on a Flower Creek Complex Recreation Development Draft Plan.

Ben Scott, President of the Kootenai Cross Country Ski Club also volunteered to join the board. Scott is currently working with group and board member Marc McCully, our Lincoln County Libby District Road Foreman, to update maps, coordinates, and roads for the Flower Creek Complex.

Micah Miller, head of the U.S.F.S. Libby District Recreation Dept., provided an update on use of the Old Snowshoe Road.

Doug Termin, Manager of the State Department of Natural Resources & Conservation Office – Northwestern Land Unit in Libby, clarified that a State Land Recreation Use Permit could be a yearly permit based on use and dates.

The Bobtail Ridge and Sheldon Mountain horse-trails, mountain bike trails, corrals and parking lot projects were discussed a bit, but deferred for further discussion as members Deena Shotzberger and Ben Bernall were not present.

Libby Forest Service District Ranger, Nate Gassman, mentioned that he would like to see this team focus on trails with consideration to already existing trails, U.S.F.S. trail maintenance needs and uses, and come up with some reasonable goals. Gassman also mentioned that the Lincoln County Snow-Kat Club has been extremely helpful in maintaining trails that they use.

Len Pauley, President of the Snow-Kat Club, and board member, briefly discussed motorized trails use.

Allie Maloney, newly appointed Montana Wilderness Association –  Northwest Montana Coordinator, is a new member of the group and volunteered to serve as a new board member as well. Maloney brought up the Stele-Rese Grant Program, that can provide additional funding for trails.

Paul Bunn, owner of the Venture Inn and founder of Kootenai Country Montana added some insightful comments on coordination and methods of projecting work accomplished on these recreational ventures to the public and potential marketing down the road.

Member and advocate for the Cross Country Skiers Club, Susie Rice, brought up an interesting concept with excellent potential for our area concerning studying the International Selkirk Loop. This loop has been referred to as one of the top ten scenic destinations in the Northern Rockies. She alluded to the potential of that loop extending to include side trips to our area. She and colleagues will investigate further.

This group, most of whom work day jobs, had blended together this evening accomplishing much in the realm of coordination and planning. With the knowledge that they still have much to do and a long way to go, the meeting was adjourned around 9 p.m.

By Brian Baxter

Libby Christmas bird count

The Libby Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday Dec. 14 from 8 a.m. until 5 pm. To participate you do not have to bird the entire day, and there are several locations open. For more information on times, areas to be covered, and general conditions, email retired biology teacher Gene Reckin at gnreckin@ gmail.com or call 293-9344 or 291-8482.

There’s magic in the air as every year around Christmas time, Audubon groups meet all over the U.S. to pursue a favorite passion. Birding is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the country, and for that matter, all over the world. In Kootenai Country, winter birders take to the fields, woods, and water to participate in the Flathead Audubon Club’s Christmas Bird Count.

Hearty birders, dressed in winter layers, some wearing scarves and wool caps and carrying colorful day packs, enjoy the clear air and exercise. They grab their binoculars and spotting scopes, and head out to see what species and behaviors they might observe.

Sighting birds of prey is always a special thrill. Winter raptors might include Rough-legged hawks; Northern Pygmy owls; Northern Hawk owls; Great Horned owls, and late in the season migrating Snowy owls. Waterfowl species could include Tundra and Trumpeter swans; Great Blue herons; Bufflehead ducks; Hooded or Common Mergansers; and Common or Barrow’s Goldeneye ducks.

You may catch woodpeckers moving about the opposite sides of trees from your approach, and vertically changing position. They behave this way as they do not have interior down feathers, and they are trying to stay warm. Look for Hairy’s; Downeys; Pileated; Northern Three-toed, and Northern flickers. Catch glimpses of beautiful songbirds too. Scope for Chickadees; Cedar and Bohemian waxwings, and Golden Crowned Kinglets.

All is dependent on the habitat you’re in of course.

By Brian Baxter, The Montanian