About the North Fork Compact
In the late 1960's a group of landowners in the valley of the North Fork of the Flathead River in Montana found that they had a common concern about subdivision and the beginnings of environmental degradation in the North Fork area. Progressing from informal discussions, they held a formal planning meeting at the cabin of Orville and Helen Foreman, to which all North Fork landowners were invited. In 1971 the final version of the North Fork Compact was completed by Orville Foreman, who was an attorney. In 1973 the Compact was signed by those who wished to join and was recorded at the Flathead County courthouse as a land covenant. (The Compact document defines the North Fork as those lands lying between the Canadian border on the north and Coal Creek on the south and bounded to the east and west respectively by the Flathead River and the summit of the Whitefish Range.)
The purpose of the North Fork compact was and is to deter commercial development and excessive subdivision on the lands of the signatories, in perpetuity. Note that a covenant such as the Compact goes with the land whenever the land changes ownership.
Five acres is the minimum subdivision allowed under the Compact. This this seems too small today, in the 1960's it was a step forward, especially because of the indifference on the part of the Flathead County government towards land use planning. Such was the local climate in those day that we found ourselves -- as far as we know -- the first organized land use planning effort in the county.
Originally there were 34 signatories and their acreage totaled roughly 2,503 acres. Since 1973, 496 acres have been purchased by the National forest service under the Wild and Scenic River Act. Two-hundred-twenty-seven acres have been removed from the Compact at the request of the owners and following a vote of 75% of the signatories. A total of 50 acres have been added (by three signatories) since 1973.
As of 1995 the total acreage covered by the Compact, including the Compact holdings purchased by the National Forest Service, totals 2.256.58 acres, which is roughly 15% of the total private land on the North Fork (Camas to the Border).
Total compact acreage now also under Conservation Easements amounts to 444 acres at latest estimate (1997). That approaches 20% of the total Compact acreage.
The Compact meets once a year, on the second Monday in August, at Sondreson Hall. The meeting is open to the public.
In 1977, the Compact financed and carried through a zoning petition for the North Fork, which technical advice from the County Planning Board. It was defeated, essentially by the indifference of the Montana landowners. A majority of the responding out-of-state landowners favored the petition.
The Compact was active in planning and drafting the 1986 North Fork Land Use Plan. We were also involved in the 1990 Addendum to that plan. both of these were major efforts carried through in cooperation with other North Fork groups and individual landowners.
In the 1990's we mailed to our members a poll on limiting the minimum sale allowed by the Compact to 20 acres rather than the original 5, but this update failed by two votes of the required 75% majority.
The chairperson of the Compact is automatically a member of the North Fork Land Use Planning Committee, which is composed of the heads of the various leading organizations on the North Fork (such as the North Fork Improvement Association and North Fork Preservation Association). This planning committee is consulted by the County on planning issues involving the North Fork.
In 1985 the Interlocal Agreement was established a joint agreement to formally provide a communication process among all landowners in the North Fork Flathead River drainage (Camas to border, Livingston Range summit to Whitefish Range summit). The purpose was "to provide communication, support land use planning efforts, and provide continuing opportunities to share mutual concerns and planning efforts, and other general information pertaining to this area." This document was signed by Glacier National Park, the US Forest Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the Board of Commissioners of Flathead County, Montana State Lands Department, the North Fork Improvement Association, the North Fork Preservation Association, and the North Fork Compact. The Interlocal meets twice annually , once during the summer at Sondreson Hall and once in late winter at some convenient location near Kalispell or Park HQ. Both meetings are open to the public.
What is the importance to me of the Compact? I am not in favor of restrictions on private property.
. As a land covenant, the Compact has helped to keep several large acreages from commercial development and from the threat of being excessively cut up. This has helped to keep the area relatively unspoilt, which is why most people are attracted to the North Fork. The Compact is also a grassroots organization which contributes to representing the North Fork in Interlocal and Planning meetings. It is know and respected even outside our immediate area, and has a voice on planning issues, as do the other citizen organizations active on the North Fork.
Is my land under the Compact? I just purchased it and the real estate agent did not inform me. (This situation has occurred.)
. Go the Clerk and Recorder's office at the Flathead County Courthouse with the legal description of your land, to find out if your land is under the Compact.
How may I obtain a copy of the Compact?
. The North Fork Compact is recorded at the Courthouse. To see a copy, bring a legal description of your land to the Clerk and Recorder Office and ask them to make a printout, from microfiche, of the text of the Compact document -- if your land is under the Compact. This costs $0.50 for the first page and $0.25 for each additional page. (This procedure applies to land covenants registered prior to 1984 and therefore to any acreage under the covenant.)
How do I obtain more information or join the Compact?
. The present secretary of the Compact is Mrs. EB McNeil, 2969 Rufenach Circle, Kalispell, MT 59901.
* Research in Montana real estate law by a local attorney in 1995-96 assured us that if a title company fails to inform a purchaser that there is a restriction on his deed (such as the Compact, for instance), then that title company is at fault and liable under the law.
Copyright 2005, North Fork Compact, all rights reserved.