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C-Falls opts to delay resort tax start date

| April 13, 2020 1:00 AM

The Columbia Falls City Council last week voted to delay an implementation of a proposed 3 percent resort tax until October 2021.

The tax will be on the June 2 primary ballot, which will be done by mail due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure still has to be approved by voters. It was initially set to go into effect this October if voters approved it, but council sought a delay in implementation.

“The city council understands that our community has been turned upside down during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and that it will take time for our community to heal. Therefore, on April 6, 2020, during the regular council meeting, City council voted to delay the implementation of the resort tax to October 2021 to provide a full year for economic recovery and a return to normal activity in the valley. The ballot language will have an effective date of October 2020 but the final effective date will be adopted by ordinance after the June election,” the city wrote in a letter that will go out to voters prior to the vote.

The letter also gives the facts about the tax and what it will pay for.

The city sees the tax as a way to pay for critical emergency services, such as fire and police, which have seen the volume of calls increase exponentially as more people visit Glacier National Park in the summer.

Twenty-five percent of the taxes collected will go back to city property owners in the form of a property tax rebate.

The alternative to the resort tax would be an emergency services mill levy.

— Hungry Horse News

The state Land Board has approved the Boyle Lake timber sale about 7 miles northwest of Whitefish.

The timber project includes 206 acres in areas west of Boyle Lake and north to Lazy Creek on the Stillwater State Forest under the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The sale is estimated to produce more than 2 million board feet of timber, and is expected to generate at least $325,000 for the State School Trust and about $61,000 in Forest Improvement Fees, according to DNRC. No new roads are planned for the project, but more than 4 miles of road maintenance is expected.

The Land Board previously approved the Beaver Lake timber sale project that includes about 647 acres of logging.

Together both timber sales make up the larger Beaver-to-Boyle Timber Sale Project. Work on both timber sales is planned to continue through 2023.

The entire project is aimed at improvement of the forest and growth maintenance, removal treatment is designed to reduce fuel loads in the Wildland Urban Interface while introducing a new age class of timber to the area and improving growth of existing trees.

The timber project is part of the area included in the Whitefish Area Trust Lands Neighborhood Plan, which was approved in 2004 and aims to generate revenue for DNRC, through recreation in the forest, and still allowing forest management to occur also generating revenue.

A portion of the Beaver Lake timber sale includes the Whitefish Trail section that runs from the Beaver Lake trailhead to around Woods Lake, Dollar Lake and Little Beaver Lake. The timber project was designed to buffer the trail system from the main harvest areas, according to DNRC, and social media and signage will be used to alert recreationists when logging activity is taking place.

— Whitefish Pilot

The Plains MT Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook page now has a phone number people can call for assistance: 406-826-2411. For those experiencing an emergency, they should call 911.

The page was launched recently to help those in need during the COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic.

People can post their needs or the needs of other community members. Page members and the general public can read those needs and help fulfill them either directly or by connecting people to get those needs met.

“In these times of uncertainty due to the coronavirus our senior and disabled citizens are some of the most vulnerable,” Plains resident Paula Ivy said. “If you know someone who needs help please encourage them to post on our Facebook page, ‘Plains MT Neighbors Helping Neighbors.’

Ivy said the outpouring of community involvement has been amazing. Within the first three days, the number of page members has grown to almost 400 members.

Ivy said there is an effort to get a phone number for the page which would be manned by volunteers, whom would take calls from those whom don’t have internet access.

There is also a flyer at the Plains Post Office with a tear off slip for any one with a need to fill out and turn in to the postal clerk.

— Clark Fork Valley Press

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council recently passed a resolution to limit access of its lands for recreation, ordering the temporary suspension of recreation on tribal land to non-residents of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

This resolution also restricts residents of the Reservation to day-use recreation only. These modifications are similar to restrictions that are currently being implemented throughout the state of Montana to minimize exposure and community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Tribal Council recently passed a resolution proclaiming a state of emergency on the Flathead Indian Reservation because of the deadly virus and also enacted a resolution directing social distancing to protect the public.

For community residents who chose to recreate on Tribal Land, officials remind them that Tribal conservation permits are required for individuals 12 years of age and older. Fishing permits are also required for non-member residents 14 years of age and older, both can be purchased on-line. Go to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website at www.fwp.mt.gov.

Tribal officials also want to remind community residents when recreating that trails are not cleared and spring is when bears are emerging from their dens.

Tribal Game Wardens are working regular shifts and will be out patrolling daily.

For more information, contact the CSKT Natural Resources Department’s Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation in Pablo at 406-675-2700, ext. 7241, or at 406-883-2888.

— Lake County Leader