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Are fires being mismanaged this year?

The tragic loss of the Sperry Chalet on Friday was caused by the mismanagement of fires by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. The lack of willingness to use mass air drops to alleviate these fires is inexcusable behavior and shortsighted. How many 10,000 gallon airdrops would it take to PUT THE FIRES OUT. —Jerry Olson, Somers

We need a full investigation into loss of Sperry Chalet

When the Sprague Fire was first sighted it was extremely small. With Lake McDonald so close one might have thought that the Park Service would have used aerial drops of water. Possibly the large water scooper plane being used at Seeley Lake could have been used. In addition fire retardant drops could have been made. Sadly, none of that was done in spite of the extreme fire weather conditions that occurred. Very dry conditions existed, low humidity was the norm, high temperatures were the norm and occasional afternoon winds provided the ingredients necessary for major fire activity.

Had the Sprague Fire been vigorously attacked when it was first seen, Sperry Chalet would likely be standing today. The chalet would have reopened after the Sprague Fire was controlled. Trails would have reopened. And the early closure of the Lake McDonald Lodge might not have been necessary because of the smoke.

But the park held fast to monitoring the fire only. Once the fire expanded to over 500 acres it took on a life of its own. And the wind and fuels guided the fire to new areas and a much larger size. Unfortunately, Sperry Chalet became one of the new areas attacked by the fire. The firefighting precautions taken at Sperry Chalet were no match for the firestorm that came during the afternoon of Aug. 31. The park had made a huge mistake by not using common sense in the face of the existing fire weather conditions and not vigorously attacking the fire at its start.

The price has been paid and the historic chalet is in ruins!

Some Glacier Park personnel have to be held accountable for the extraordinarily bad decision that was made. But ultimately it comes down to the park superintendent. It was his call. In my opinion his very poor judgment has cost us all. Perhaps a full investigation by the director of the National Park Service is warranted. And possibly some positive changes for future actions might come. But in the end, whether or not this superintendent survives in his position, in my opinion he will always be known as the man who allowed the loss of Sperry Chalet. —Larry Stolte, Kalispell

Water park injury was handled well

Recently, I had the pleasure with my family of enjoying Woodland Park’s water park. Unfortunately a child was injured using a waterslide.

I want to compliment the actions of the staff in reacting immediately calmly and efficiently in this serious situation. The Kalispell police and fire EMTs also acted quickly and appropriately to evaluate and transfer the youngster to the ER.

I’m a retired surgeon and now teach emergency medicine. All concerned acted with textbook smoothness and expertise. Although potentially tragic, the staff reacted with a beauty to complement this facility. ­—John Stoianoff, Dayton

Fires seen tied to environmental litigation

As our state goes up in flames around us, I read that many of these fires are occurring in areas that had been scheduled for mitigation efforts, but were stopped by environmental lawsuits.

I am so angry at the environmental industry right now. They sue to stop any thing that would wisely manage our forests. Why? Money, pure and simple. That’s how they make their money. They file their suit and the handy-dandy liberal judges in Missoula never rule against them, so we, the taxpayers get to pay twice. Once when we pay their inflated legal fees and again for firefighting costs.

Yes, it has been a hot, dry summer. Lightning and dry conditions are never a good mix. Would the forest have burned? Of course. Would it have burned as hot and fast as it has if the forest had been thinned? No. The environmental industry would have you believe they sue for the birds, bees, flowers, trees, bears, etc. They don’t. They sue for the money they make off the lawsuits, pure and simple

So I ask them, how badly have the animals been harassed by the wildfires? How many have been displaced? How many have burnt up? The loss of habitat is far, far worse from the fires than any mitigation efforts would have been.

I sincerely hope that all of you in the environmental industry are happy; you’ve done a very good job of destroying it. —Patti Neal, Columbia Falls

Legislator seeks net-neutrality compromise

All the attention around the FCC’s net-neutrality regulations brings hope that Congress will intervene to come up with some sort of compromise. Net neutrality is the principle that Americans can engage in any lawful activity online knowing that their internet traffic will not be slowed, blocked or interfered with in any way. It’s a principle everyone supports but has been stuck in multiple rounds of litigation and policy changes at the FCC. This type of back and forth appears inevitable without legislative action from Congress.

Some thing needs to be done. There is evidence that the existing regulatory framework (which the FCC is in the process of reforming) has resulted in a downturn in investment in internet infrastructure, a trend that is projected to continue if the FCC’s 2015 decision to classify the internet as a public utility is left in place. Lagging infrastructure investment can handicap rural areas. In a rural, mountainous Montana, it’s harder to deploy high-speed internet everywhere like the more densely populated states may enjoy. Government policies shouldn’t make it harder by imposing regulations and demands that hinders the incentive for infrastructure investment.

I hope our congressional delegation can support a legislative compromise on internet regulation. I believe this is the only way to restore robust investment while at the same time enacting common-sense net-neutrality standards. Ultimately, congressional action seems to be the only way to bring both sides to the table on what has proven to be a thorny issue. ­—Keith Regier, Kalispell Republican, SD3

Hileman for Whitefish judge

Bill Hileman is just the type of person Whitefish needs for its next Municipal Court judge.

“Fair but firm” perfectly describes his approach to law. He has been a pillar of our community for years and his integrity has been on display throughout his lifetime. Common sense with a positive attitude is a quality he possesses that will serve our city well.

We both enthusiastically endorse Bill Hileman for Whitefish Municipal Court judge. —Susan and Kurt Blades, Whitefish

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