Letter from local evacuee in Seeley Lake, MT

Posted: September 5, 2017

My heart is broken for Montana. I am currently evacuated from my home town of Seeley Lake. Even without the threat of fire burning my home, I wake up daily to smoke so thick it chokes. Hazardous levels for health start at 150 ppm. We have daily awoken to numbers never before charted. 850, 950,1100. We feel grateful when the smoke lifts and we reach the only “extremely dangerous” levels. The beautiful backdrop of the Swan Range that framed my sons’ weddings are now so obscured by smoke they are unrecognizable. Once the smoke clears, there will be the black toothpick horizons that I have too often seen in my other home state, New Mexico. This monster has gobbled up more than 55,000 acres of pristine wilderness, and there is no end in sight. It is surreal. My home is threatened, but the homes and livelyhoods of family and friends are daily being reduced to ashes. The lands of the stalwart founding fathers,CB Rich families of the Seeley Lake area, are being decimated without a blink of help from anyone other then the overtaxed firefighters risking their lives. My home is in danger; their entire heritage is daily being reduced to ash. My heart bleeds for them. They have been through it before, perhaps not this generation, but the ones preceeding, and most certainly, the ones to come. But still, just this past Thursday we have the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Swan View Coalition and Friends of the Wild Swan file a lawsuit to stop the Beaver Creek Project, which is designed to help an area in the Flathead to reduce timber in a relatively small area by thinning and enhancing the land for wildlife. Do they think that all Grizzlies, Elk , or Lynx in the current 55,0000 acres burned in the Rice Ridge fire are able to deploy their personal defense blankets until the fire passes, and then feast on the charred briquets that remain? Please, let’s use a little common sense. I called in a fire on August 26…a single column smoke plume, giving general directions. This single plume is now at minimum a 300 acre fire on BLM land. Shortly it will pass onto US Forest service land. What could have been put out by a couple of helicopter drops and some boots on the ground, will most likely get fed by the years of dead vegetation in the drainage leading directly to Seeley. Hopefully the USFS, or DNRC will have enough resources to beat what may very likely be another beast bearing down in the beleaguered community of Seeley. My heart.bleeds.