Cabin owners around a small, remote lake in northwestern Montana are worried that increasing pressure from motorized recreationists could forever harm their little slice of heaven.
That’s why Rachel Potter and her neighbors have petitioned the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to pursue a nonmotorized watercraft designation for Tepee Lake.
“We really believe that now’s the time to make a rule before there is a problem,” Potter said.
The commission agreed, which will start a rule-making process to ban motorized boats and personal watercraft from the lake.
Tepee Lake is located in the scenic North Fork Flathead River valley and abuts the Flathead National Forest. With no inlet or outlet the lake has proven inhospitable to fish, although leeches thrive in the shallow waters.
The 17-acre lake, which is surrounded on the shores by large weedbeds, is a seasonal home to nesting loons, a species of waterfowl known for its haunting cry.
Like most public lands and waters in Montana, the North Fork Basin continues to see increasing pressure from boaters, campers and hikers. Nestled just west of Glacier National Park, the well-traveled gravel road up the valley leads to the Canadian border.
“Disturbance abounds in the national forest,” said Teagan Hayes, a Missoula research ecologist who worked on a project in the North Fork Basin for the U.S. Geological Survey.