Rural Living in the Flathead Valley – Mother Nature
Rural living in the Flathead Valley of Montana can be amazing. Beautiful starlight nights. Sights or signs of wildlife including grouse, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, fox, coyote, deer, elk, bear and more. Peace and quiet. There are also practical considerations. If you are thinking of moving to a rural area, you need to consider purchasing decisions, access issues, service delivery, agriculture and the right to farm, mother nature and wildlife. The first four posts can be accessed by clicking the links above. Part five of the series regarding living in rural areas of the Flathead County in Montana focuses on Mother Nature.
Flathead County Planning and Zoning prepared an excellent document for both natives and newcomers to the area. They’ve given me their thumbs up to share here. The five chapter deals with Mother Nature
And I quote:
Residents of rural areas experience more problems when the elements and earth turn unfriendly. Remember the following and be prepared:
- The physical characteristics of your property are likely a big part of your decision to purchase in a rural area. Trees are spectacular, but can increase the threat of forest fire. Building at the top of a forested draw is as dangerous as locating in a flood-prone area.
- Determine if you are in a high, very high, or extreme high fire hazard area by accessing the county mapping website at https://maps.flathead.mt.gov.
- Incorporating defensible space standards can be very helpful in protecting your home and outbuildings from forest fire and can, in turn, protect the forest from your house fire. Remember, if you start the fire, you are responsible for paying the cost to extinguish it. The planning and zoning office or DNRC can provide you with the information on incorporating these standards into your land management. Visit http://www.firewise.org for more information.
- Contact the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services to determine if you are in a rural fire district. These fire districts rely on volunteers, so consider joining yours!
- Steep slopes are often unstable and can slide in wet weather, releasing mud, rocks and vegetation in the process.
- North facing slopes or canyons rarely receive direct sunlight in winter. It is likely that snow accumulation will last until late spring.
- Topography will tell you where water will go in the case of heavy precipitation. When that topography is changed, water that used to drain into a ravine or depression may end up draining into your house (or even your neighbors!) instead. Exercise caution and consult a professional and the county planning office, particularly if you are located in a flood-prone area.
- Portions of the county have delineated floodplains or flood-prone areas where home construction is either prohibited or strictly regulated. Contact the planning and zoning office to discuss your property prior to commencing any work in these areas.
- Multiple active fault lines in Flathead County will result in earthquakes, it’s just a matter of time. Be mindful of this in construction and site planning.
As mentioned above, fire management should be taken into account when designing a new home. I recently attended land management classes and the one on fire management was eye opening. The best perimeter around a home would be some sort of rock or stone. The home would need to be kept clean, without a lot of flammable items on the porch or patio. There should be no trees right around the home either. We have scheduled a review of our home to see what else we might need to do. Being surrounded by acres of forest certainly means we’ll need to maintain our trees and outbuildings properly.
Also, I can attest that the item regarding north facing slopes is true. The first half mile of our dirt road is north facing AND in a canyon. The snow and ice takes a very long time to melt, even if the temperature is above freezing. With no direct sunlight, it can remain messy for quite a while. So if you are purchasing rural land you may wish to figure out whether there are any south facing slopes you can use for access.
If after reading this you are still interested in purchasing land or an existing home in rural areas of the Flathead Valley, I’d be happy to make sure you have the information you need to select the property or home that works for you. The same is true if you want to move into a city or town. I’m available to assist with those properties as well. Just call me at 406-270-3667 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part six of this series will address wildlife. Until then, enjoy!