Montana Outdoors

July 15, 2006

This Land is Your Land

Filed under: Inspiration, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 9:51 am

There was a light breeze blowing up the river this afternoon, and as I stood in the back yard enjoying its coolness, I glanced toward the river and saw my Ospreys, a pair, hovering like giant hummingbirds over the water, riding the breeze, fishing. I suspect the Ospreys would not agree with the word “my”, though. While we share fishing rights to that little stretch of the Clark Fork and occasionally exchange civilities, they belong only to themselves.

As that thought slowly worked its way through my consciousness, a line from an outstanding poem also made its way to the surface: “And the influx of the alien rich”.

Ted Turner and many of the other “alien rich” have come in and purchased pieces of this beautiful land, arrogantly posted “No Trespassing” signs and called that land their own. They have used their vast resources to create their own tiny versions of paradise, flaunting their wealth to display the “superiority” brought by fame and fortune, seemingly in an attempt to create their own immortality. One might question the bounds of their ownership. At the end of it all is it any more comfortable to lie at rest wrapped in a shroud of fat bank accounts, property deeds and living trusts? The purchases are their right, certainly, but by no means are they all there is to the story of man and the natural world.

These tall pines in “my” front yard

The owners

were born about a century and a half before I settled in here, and they will not even reach middle age by the time I receive my final notice of mortality. Upon reflection it seems that having my name on the deed to the land upon which they stand is yet another display of human arrogance.

This Land is Your Land, verse five (by Woody Guthrie):

As I was walkin’
I saw a sign there
And that sign said no trespassin’
But on the other side
It didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

About fifteen miles to the west of those tall pines, and 4400 feet above, sits the Bighole Lookout,

Bighole house

Bighole Lookout

Bighole tower

at an altitude of 6922 feet, built by the U.S. Forest Service in 1930 and abandoned in the 1970’s. It sits “on the other side” of all the signs. It is visited infrequently by man but, judging by the signs, quite often by black bears and occasionally by one of the big cats.

In the haze of the far distance beyond Bighole’s cliff can be seen the start of the mountains that are the home of Glacier Park. In between is part of the Lolo National Forest, and further back, the Flathead National Forest.

As you look past the side of the old Lookout, the far ridge is part of the Clark-Hinchwood area and the land in between is also part of Lolo National Forest. If you go there and look back toward Bighole, you see this view:


(Mother Nature knew I would use this photo some day and so She decorated it for the occasion.)

The true owners? For those of us who are citizens of these United States, the line of the song “Now that side was made for you and me!” is indeed true: we hold title to this National Forest land in perpetual trust, simply as custodians, for our enjoyment and inspiration and also for the enjoyment and inspiration of those from all other countries who come to visit in peace and friendship.


  1. Beautiful sentiments and sights.


    Comment by absurdoldbird — July 20, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  2. Thanks!


    Comment by montucky — July 20, 2010 @ 9:07 pm

  3. Going back through your posts from the beginning and I particularly liked this entry and your comments. I learned that song as a youth in school and remember those words and I think that I concur with your closing comment that this land really belongs to itself and we are either guardians or users of the land and like the song says “this land was made for you and me”! Ron 4-25-15


    Comment by Ron Mangels — April 25, 2015 @ 8:35 pm

    • It pains me to see that many of the states, especially the western ones, are promoting the idea that the National Forests belong to the states in which they sit. Nothing could be further from the truth and that is a very dangerous idea for those precious forests. They are National forests and belong equally to every individual who is a citizen of this country.


      Comment by montucky — April 25, 2015 @ 9:58 pm

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