Is there a 'different'
Seeley Lake ahead?


December 28, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana


From: "Ron Talcott" <ron@talcott.org>
To: "Gary Noland" <pathfinder@montana.com>Subject: Patricia Swan Smith's Article on Seeley Lake's Future.

 

Dear Gary:

Patricia's story is a first step. Since reading about the mill closure,my wifeand I have been concerned about the future of Seeley Lake and the surrounding area that have been my favorite place on earth for 44 years.

I will not be able to attend the January 15th meeting, but I want tocontribute some ideas from an outsider who has a lot riding on "the inside."

The Seeley Lake Airport is a diamond in the rough and could be a healthy contributor to the local economy with fast, easy transportation. The Seeley Lake Flying Club has done some great work already, but a sprinkler system and continued improvements would attract tourists and business people to Seeley. Getting there easily, consistently and quickly are amongst my concerns.

Flying is my vocation, so I naturally look to the airport and the seaplane base.With GPS navigation for personal and business aircraft, an instrument approach should be considered for the airport so that aircraft could come and go even on cloudy days or during the many early morning low cloud conditions that hamper consistent use of the airport now.

Seeley Lake has great natural attractions. The lake itself and the others in the immediate vicinity: Placid, Salmon, Lindberg, Holland, etc.The wilderness areas, too many to list from my memory.

There are more places to hike and camp in the Seeley-Swan area than I can count.What brought people to Seeley before the mill?What brings people to other rural, mountain Montana communities? Snowmobiling, dog sled racing, ice fishing derbies in the winter and cycling, packing, hiking, hunting, fishing and more in the warm months. How do people find out about the gem in the rough at Seeley Lake? Chamber of Commerce, advertising, newspaper, flyers, email, websites and just plain everybody inviting everyone they know to come to Seeley Lake and enjoy what we all know is there.

Exposure will bring change, and all should consider if they are ready for that.

More cars, more people, more building, more infrastructure requirement: electricity, sewer, water, etc.

Once people hear about Seeley Lake, how do they get there?Car, bus, bicycle, airplane, seaplane. Where do you catch their attention?Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena?Where do they stay when they get there? Two small motels and some aging resorts might not be enought.

I remember when Montana 200 was not "complete" to the east in the 50s, and now, there is a wide and handsome transportation corridor. Upgrades like the one that started this summer for downtown Seeley will help make it more attractive.The soon to be completed golf course, the museum (barn), the new health clinic. Businesses making furniture, toys, and other saleable articles out of pine and fir would be a natural new development.

There is the beginning of great promise if there is careful planning and acceptance of change. Will the resident citizens accept a "different" Seeley so that it will not become a "Garnet ghost town"for people to visit in 2100?

Thanks to the Community Council for asking the question that everyone wants answered and many don't want to ask. Change is frightening and there must be a great deal of anxiety in the community. I encourage everyone to get involved now.The direct effect on their personal future could not be more clear.

The survey of the children effected by the mill closure might be way off the mark.Did it consider children of mill employees only?Large employers in a community not only provide jobs for their employees, but for their suppliers and vendors too.For every one job at the mill, there may be one or two others in town that don't have the mill in their name, but depend on the mill for business.

I appreciate this opportunity to add more fuel to the fire that will shape the future of Seeley Lake and temper its strengths and people.There were many "mill towns" in Washington State affected in the 80s by the EPA (spotted owl). Please contact Raymond WA (small relatively isolated community) for information about how they have tried to survive.

A final note. Do not forget the power of prayer and God's direction.Though prayer has become unpopular at secularcommunity functions, its power remains undiminished.God answers the prayers of the faithful.May He be allowed to mold the future of Seeley Lake and its citizens. Warm regards for a Happy New Year.

Ron and Gigi Talcott
Tacoma, WA & Seeley Lake

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