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Welcome to the website of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder.
The Pathfinder is the award-winning weekly newspaper serving the communities of Seeley Lake, Condon, Swan Valley
and the Blackfoot Valley of Montana.

Highlights from the August 27, 2015 issue

The Morrell Complex is still going with the Type II Incident Management Team in place. An Area Closure is in place for public and firefighter safety and the public is asked to avoid the fire area and adjacent roads (Area Closure Information Map).

Check our Facebook page for the most current information.

Visit the Seeley Swan businesses with links below.
Their sponsorship makes this website possible.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Montana Properties
(Real Estate sales in Seeley Lake)

Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
(Local news source for Lincoln, Ovando, Helmville
and Canyon Creek)

CLB Custom Landworks
(Landscaping, Tree Care and Fencing)

Clearwater Montana Properties, Inc.
(Proudly partnering with Cabela Trophy Properties
for Real Estate Sales)

Double Arrow Resort
(Historic Lodge & Golf Course)

Great Bear Properties
(Real Estate Sales in Seeley Lake)

Lindey's Prime Steak House
(The Place For Steak & Burgers on the Bay!)

Montana Loon Society
(Supporting Montana's Common Loons)
Pine Hills Outfitters
(Outfitting in the US)

Swan Mountain Outfitters
(Outdoor Recreation Services and Exclusive Lodging)

Swan River Valley Real Estate
(Real Estate Brokerage)

Swan Valley Centre Cabins
(Vacation Lodging in the Swan Valley)
The western flank of the north fire on the Morrell Complex. The fire lines seen in the middle of the photo were put in by heavy equipment. Firefighters continue to monitor the lines to ensure the fire does not crosses them.

- MDT Section Chief Killed in Industrial Accident

GREENOUGH - Thursday afternoon, Aug. 20 45-year-old Jason Rolls, temporary resident of Seeley Lake, was killed in an industrial accident at the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) gravel pit near Clearwater Junction. Rolls was setting up a pug mill, a conveyor machine to mix sand and salt, with two other co-workers when he was run over by the conveyor.

- Additional Resources Asset to Morrell Complex - More Resources on Order

SEELEY LAKE - The Morrell Complex, comprised of two fires burning on top of Richmond Ridge, continued to burn through the week. As of Tuesday, the complex is estimated at 527 acres and is 60 percent contained.

- Please Pause for Pets and People, Elinor Williamson

– Letters to the Editor: Stepping Down from 2VS

– Swan Songs - Dean Bennett & Jorge Bernardo Ortiz Morales

- Fire Team Uses SLE as Headquarters

SEELEY LAKE – Seeley Lake Elementary (SLE) has been renamed. It has temporarily become Morrell Complex Incident Command Post (ICP) and Food Catering Service.

- Stage II Fire Restrictions Implemented for Northwestern Montana

The portions of the Missoula and Ninemile Ranger District (RD) within Mineral County as well as the entire Superior RD and Plains-Thompson Falls ranger districts of the Lolo National Forest joined the Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest and Lake (outside of Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe), Lincoln, and Sanders counties in Stage II Fire Restrictions this past week. As of Tuesday, this does not include Missoula County or the Seeley Lake area. Restrictions are due to continued dry conditions and potential for rapid and dangerous fire growth.

- Seeley Lake Sewer District - Levy Passed, Surveyors to Begin in Phase I

The Seeley Lake Sewer District (SLSD) board adopted its annual levy to collect money for its administrative costs and gave instruction to Great West Engineering (GW) on how to set up appointments with Phase I landowners at its Aug. 20 meeting and assessment hearing.

- Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project: A Local Collaboration

Collaboration is a word frequently heard in natural resource management circles today. It refers to having a group of individuals representing a range of views working together to craft mutually agreeable solutions to complex issues. Collaborations help expand the knowledge of those participating by encouraging discussions about the breadth of viewpoints and considerations involved. To be successful, it requires participants who are solution-oriented and willing to consider more than one perspective on an issue and who are willing to work respectfully with others who have differing viewpoints.

- Guest Column - Forest Reform Needed to Protect Montana Communities

Montana’s National Forests and public lands have been a treasured part of our state’s heritage for generations.
Growing up in Bozeman, I spent weekends hunting in the Bridgers, backpacking in the Beartooths and fishing the rivers and streams of southwest Montana. Cindy and I were engaged on a 10,000-foot summit in the Gallatin National Forest. The love of the outdoors is a tradition that I, like many Montanans, have been thankful to pass along to my kids.

- New At School - The Blackfoot Valley Prepares for Students’ Return

School is just around the corner for Potomac, Ovando and Sunset Schools. Aug. 31 starts off the 2015-2016 school year for the three elementary schools in the Blackfoot Valley.
All three schools are considering or applying standards-based grading versus the traditional 100-point grading system. Standards-based grading measures a student’s mastery of the essential standards for a class, or how well the student understands the material in class.

- Frustrations Flare over Council’s Organization of Highway 83 Safety Discussions

SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Community Council (SLCC) was unable to have their July meeting due to no quorum. However, council members in attendance took the time to accept public comment on their proposal for safety improvements on Highway 83.

- Local Shooters Start Season with Team Titles

The Hellgate Civilian Shooters returned to competition for the Montana Outdoor Smallbore State Championship held Aug. 16 at the Hellgate Civilian Shooter Range in Bonner, Mont. Local shooters including Chris Lorentz, Trace Weisenburger, Ibby Lorentz and Sam Weisenburger took team championship titles.

- New Potomac School Principal Feels Right at Home

POTOMAC - Potomac School’s new principal Angie Williams is feeling right at home in the Potomac Valley surrounded by hayfields and community. She is originally from the Swan Valley and grew up 15 miles north of Condon. Williams said big gardens, cows and horses have always been a part of her life and she hopes to regain that here in Potomac.

- Cut Unnecessary Obstacles to Firefighting Efforts, National Guard Mobilized
HELENA – Governor Steve Bullock sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighting his frustrations with unnecessary restrictions on state efforts to combat wildfires in the state and urging Vilsack to direct leadership within federal agencies to rescind those obstructions..

- Business of the Week: Emily Rindal Insurance Agency Inc.

- Vilsack Comments on Devastating Wildfire Season

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today made the following statement: “This year, we are experiencing yet another devastating wildfire season, particularly in the drought-ravaged West. Climate change, drought, fuel buildup, insects and disease are increasing the severity of unprecedented wildfire in America’s forests and rangelands, which impacts the safety of people, homes and communities. Development close to forests has also increased the threat to property, with more than 46 million homes in the United States or about 40 percent of our nation’s housing, potentially at risk from wildfire.

- Feeding Firefighters – No Small Task

SEELEY LAKE - When Seeley Lake Elementary (SLE) kitchen staff agreed to feed the firefighters and the Incident Management Team (Team) for the Morrell Complex, none of them were expecting the volume of food they were required to provide.

- Swan Valley Community Council - Further Safety Measures for SVE Addressed

SWAN VALLEY - At the Aug. 18 Swan Valley Community Council (SVCC) meeting, SVCC member Marcia Tapp expressed her concern about the traffic and speed in front of the Swan Valley Elementary School in spite of the recently added no-passing zone and new school signs. A flashing light is still necessary for added safety she said.

- Seeley Lake Rural Fire District Board - Despite Equipment Failures, Seeley Lake Volunteers Step Up

SEELEY LAKE – Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) and Missoula Emergency Services Inc. (MESI) have provided critical equipment to the Seeley Lake Rural Fire District for the past month. DNRC loaned the fire district a Type Six engine when the district’s engine was pulled from the fleet for needed repair. MESI has loaned the district an ambulance while theirs is also in for maintenance.

- Community Briefs

Fishing Restrictions Lifted on Area Rivers; Gathering Signatures for the Seeley Lake Council Speed Study; DNRC to Host Public Meeting Regarding Dogtown Road Maintenance, Sept. 2; Kindergarten Roundup, Sept. 3; Save the Date, Spaghetti Feed and Sock Hop, Oct. 9; Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Call Activity 8/17/15 – 8/23/15