Good Neighbor forest project a win-win

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The first Good Neighbor Authority timber harvest to take place on the Flathead National Forest was finalized this week. Work on the Liger timber sale will take place southeast of Hungry Horse and Martin City, and is expected to produce about 1.6 million board feet of timber.

The Good Neighbor Authority, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, is a unique program that allows the state to manage timber harvests on federal lands. The idea is that through collaboration the two agencies can better achieve common goals, while also expediting the pace and scale of critical forest management projects. Revenue from these projects can be used for treatment of infected trees, reduction of hazardous fuels, and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat.

Good Neighbor projects are highlighted as a key component of Governor Bullock’s Forests in Focus 2.0 Initiative, which notes that “insects and disease, wildfires, smoke, drought and a changing climate do not recognize ownership boundaries.”

This cross-boundary forest management approach is a win-win for Northwest Montana — reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires and creating new forestry jobs — and we look forward to seeing more of these projects in the future.

The Shriners Hospital for Children’s announcement last week that it will be opening an orthopedic clinic in collaboration with the new Montana Children’s pediatric center at Kalispell Regional Healthcare is great news for the Flathead Valley.

The Shriners will send a team of specialists from the hospital’s Spokane facility to Kalispell Regional once every other month for one day of clinic work to begin with, and the goal is to increase visitation frequency in the future as the need arises. Its Kalispell clinic will offer very specific pediatric services that are not yet part of Kalispell Regional’s offering.

For nearly a century the nonprofit Shriners Hospitals for Children have been providing specialized care for children under age 18 regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Having access to this kind of care will help many Flathead families who can now access those services without leaving the valley.

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