Amid Warm Weather, Logging Operations Halting for Spring Break-Up

Temperatures in Kalispell have been 6.4 degrees warmer than the monthly average in February

By Dillon Tabish
A log loader organizes felled trees. Beacon file photo

Golf courses are already open and logging operations are already halted in Northwest Montana, where unseasonably warm weather has flipped the calendar by at least a month.

Polson Bay Golf Course began accepting the first tee times of the year last week amid warm, sunny skies.

The temperatures in Kalispell, on average, have been 6.4 degrees warmer than the historical norms for February, according to the National Weather Service. The mercury hit a monthly high of 51 degrees on Feb. 16 and surpassed 40 degrees all but once from Feb. 8 through Feb. 22.

The warm temps are not welcome news to everyone.

F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. in Columbia Falls temporarily laid off its night shift of 12 employees because of forest road conditions. The so-called spring break-up has lead to thawing roads that hamper logging trucks from traveling to and from harvest sites.

This year’s spring break-up has arrived almost a month earlier than usual, according to Chuck Roady, director at F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. Spring break-up is a term used for the period when wet, muddy conditions prevent loggers and haulers from working until road conditions improve.

“We’d sure like it to be cold and frozen for a little longer,” he said. “Mother Nature holds the trump card.”

Roady said this is the earliest arrival of spring break-up in recent years.

Stoltze had enough supply to keep the day shift running, Roady said.

The Flathead County commissioners are slated to vote Feb. 24 on load limits for county roads.

The Flathead River Basin is at 96 percent of the median average for snowpack. The Kootenai River Basin is at 93 percent of median.

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