Letters to the editor for Aug. 19, 2018

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Concerns about camp

Coming soon to the Lakeside/Somers community! The $16 million Camp Champion, an “experiential mentoring camp.” The design for a 170-acre camp, located at the end of Spring Creek Road in Somers, calls for housing up to 96 campers and staff. The main focus is for at-risk kids with camps that will serve two age groups: 13-15 and 16-19.

Although there is no zoning to prevent this camp from moving forward, it does seem like something the Flathead Valley, especially the Lakeside and Somers communities, deserves to know about and research how exactly it will impact the area before it just suddenly pops up on the mountain side.

Some concerns to name a few are obvious. How will this affect traffic on and off the highway at Spring Creek Road, which is already an issue? What about Cramer Creek and Cloud Creek residents? Will this make our small community less safe? Why will they staff law enforcement officers, as stated in the project overview? How will this many people coming and going impact the environment? What about the noise pollution that will literally be for years during construction and continue on as long as events and the camp are up and running?

Mentoring at-risk kids/teens and helping them make good choices is a wonderful thing. But does it come at the cost of locals and their children living the quiet, safe lifestyles that they have worked so hard to provide? —Suzy Lindsay-Moore, Kalispell

Fear mongering?

I received in the mail today a fear-filled letter concerning the proposed internet tower near the Creston School.

I have not made a decision whether to support the tower.

I’m writing about the fear-filled claims by an unknown and unidentified group. The so-called “Committee for Responsible Information ... Creston school monopole.” Who the hell are these experts? They are providing a very slanted and weakly sourced information sheet. Are they afraid to identify themselves?

If we are to take this issue, their point of view, and them seriously, then this anonymous committee needs to stand up and identify themselves. They need to be able to defend their arguments in a public forum, not behind an unsigned “information sheet.” —Tom Burke, Creston

Expert’s fire advice

As a wildfire safety officer, I read the Aug. 16 article “Hiking near wildfire zones? What to know…” with interest. While there is useful information, much is misleading, at best.

Deputy Chief Scott McLean of Cal Fire (identified in the full Mercury news article) makes suggestions that reflect firefighter training and the California fire environment, but taken out of context could be useless or dangerous for hikers in Rocky Mountain forests: Inciweb? — useful website for large existing fires but has little or no information about new and small fires or recreational restrictions. Safety zones? Small water bodies and rock slides have been the scene of fatalities in timber fires. A clearing the size of a sheet of plywood? That may refer to a clearing of last resort for a firefighter with a fire shelter, but would be a death trap if you are overrun by a large fire. Cotton bandanna? May help keep dust and ash out of a firefighter’s nose, but of no value in the superheated gases of an overrunning fire. Travel upwind and downhill? Misleading info — upwind of what? Downhill toward the fire? If you are near a fire it will be moving the direction that environmental factors dictate, usually uphill and/or with the wind.

What to do? Check online and in person with local agencies before you go — if there is an active fire or restrictions, change plans! In previously burned areas, falling snags can be extremely dangerous for several years, avoid them. McLean is right: “If you see smoke, don’t wait. Don’t assume it is going another way. Leave.” Travel away at right angles to the smoke direction. If you can’t get away, go to a very large open area without fuel. Be visible to rescuers. Stay in communication if possible. —Allen Wolf, Whitefish

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