Montana Outdoors

April 23, 2007

Wilderness bill

On Friday, 4/20/2007, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, H.R. 1975 was introduced in the 110th Congress. It will designate all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, giving them the government’s strongest protection. This is a total of 23 million acres of roadless area that would be protected forever under that designation. See this story in The Missoulian.

A week or so ago I discovered a great website, The Roadless Area Database which provides information about and maps of the roadless areas on U.S. Forest Service lands. It’s a fascinating and informative site for those who wish to see the proposed areas to be included. The information I found there about one of the areas I am very familiar with was very accurate. Earlier I made two posts referring to this area, Why, and The Coeur d’Alene Mountains: haven’t they suffered enough?.

You can find the Press Release and a 147 page PDF file containing the text of H.R. 1975 on this site: Wild Rockies Alliance.

I will reserve my comments for later on why I think Representative Denny Rehberg from Montana and Representative Barbara Cubin from Wyoming immediately came out in opposition.

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April 22, 2007

Two sets of rules

Filed under: Conservation, Environment, Fishing, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, two sets of rules — montucky @ 9:42 am

“two sets of rules”… “one for the rich and one for the rest of us”.

The picture painted in this story in the Kalispell Montana Daily Interlake on June 6, 2006 is an idyllic one of a man finding “balance” in his life in the wild outdoors of Montana and helping others to do the same. Problem is, most of it appears to be a lie and many of this man’s activities appear to be illegal as well. The true picture seems to be one of a rich individual’s blatant disregard for both the sanctity of Montana’s wild country and the laws that are in place to protect it.

This story in today’s Missoulian paints an entirely different picture. Read both articles and form your own opinion.

I felt compelled to post this, not to simply emphasize this particular deplorable situation but to illustrate an attitude that seems to be more and more prevalent today; a disregard for nature, a disregard for our laws, and the arrogance of wealth leading to the selfish exploitation of our wild country for personal gratification and gain.

April 21, 2007

Staying Equipped for the Great Outdoors

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 9:06 pm

It’s a fact of life these days, and probably soon to be enacted into law, that you must be specifically (and expensively) dressed and equipped for every recreational activity in which you intend to engage, including but not limited to, fly fishing for trout.

The Federal trout fishing dress code regulations have not yet been completed , after spending the last thirty-seven years in the Recreation Sartorial Sub-committee of the House of Representatives before being passed on to the Senate for filibuster, but in the meantime the legislatures of most of the more progressive states have enacted a large number of their own ordinances, having quickly cut through all the red tape after receiving a generous amount of funding from Cabella’s, L.L.Bean, Orvis, Nike, Reebok and eight hundred or so other guardians of our appearance and safety.

Last week when a large truck from Rocky Mountain Motor Express pulled up in my driveway to deliver all four hundred volumes of the Cabella’s Spring/Summer catalog (and I want to publicly thank them for not sending the unabridged edition this time), I was suddenly reminded that it was high time to start on my 2007 fishing budget.

After perusing volumes 237 & 238 titled Fishing Shoes for Early Spring Wet Fly Fishing on the Yaak River, it became glaringly obvious that during the off season, unbeknown to me, China had produced several thousand new and absolutely indispensable products for the properly attired fly fisherman, and if I start right away, by working three jobs between now and the middle of May, I will be just able to afford the bare minimums required by the Montana 2007 statutes and still have time to obtain the required equipment permits in time for opening day.

So far the budget has come along nicely and is almost ready to be submitted to the Chief Financial Officer (my wife‘s official title) for final approval. I’m quite sure it will pass, assuming she somehow doesn’t notice the $700 expenditure surreptitiously tucked into page 12 for a GPS radio collar that will fit a Royal Coachman dry fly, size 16!

April 20, 2007

Our environment in jeopardy

Filed under: Conservation, Environment, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 9:48 pm

Yesterday in Kalispell Montana there was a lawsuit settlement which cleared the way for an individual to operate a gravel pit approximately two miles from the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and Going to the Sun Road, between the highway and the Glacier National Park boundary. As this story in The Daily Interlake describes. Once again simple human greed triumphs over the common good.

Recently the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued a “Red Alert” on energy leases throughout Montana. This story from New West Travel & Outdoors describes the imminent threat to wildlife and the environment posed by rampant leasing of public and private lands for fossil fuel exploration and development, especially natural gas and coal bed methane development. To me it is an extremely frightening situation.

How are these two stories related? The way these situations can be controlled, I think the only way they can be controlled, is through our elected officials; our votes count! It is not just in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming that the environment is under attack, but literally in every one of these United States. Perhaps the lawsuits brought by conservation and environmental groups have the potential to slow down the exploitation and destruction of the environment, but it’s my opinion that ultimately our choices in who and what we vote for, who and what we support, and how good we are at voicing our opinions to our elected officials are the only things that can bring it under control.

April 17, 2007

Tree fishing

Filed under: Fishin' stories, Fishing, Humor, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 6:41 pm

Most people who aren’t intimately involved with the outdoors have the impression that fishing is done in oceans, lakes, streams, rivers and an occasional pond. Nothing could be further from the truth! As any experienced fly caster can tell you, most fishing is done in trees!

My personal favorite fishing tree here in Montana is the Alder: Thinleaf Alder (Alnus tebuifolia) to be exact. They have been called by other names from time to time, in fact I have observed a large number of very colorful descriptions of them over the years. I guess they’re at the top of my list because I have caught so many of them.

Alnus tebuifolia grows to be around 30 ft high, which is a very convenient height for the fly caster because he frequently uses approximately that length of line for most casts, at least on the smaller streams. There’s usually one stationed near the stream bank adjacent to a good trout hole (I think they have a contract with Mother Nature). When fishing rivers and larger streams, it is considered better form to catch taller trees, such as the pine and fir, but it’s slightly harder to do and they are not nearly as sporting as the Alder.

The exact technique for hooking Alders will vary from angler to angler, depending on their experience and ability. My own style has evolved over many years and is now perfected. I carefully calculate the distance to the exact spot where I have judged a lunker trout to be lurking, unspool the measured amount of line necessary to drop my fly precisely on that spot, go into my back cast and hook the appropriate Alder behind me which is growing at that exact distance, plus or minus a millimeter or two, depending on the wind conditions. This gives me plenty of exercise and gives the lunker an opportunity to escape or sometimes just stay put and laugh. I hate it when they laugh!

On my most recent fishing trip, after several hours on the stream, I met up with my fishing partner:

“Hey, Montucky, how’d you do?”

“Oh, the usual: two small Rainbows, one nice Brown, six Brookies, two pines, one fir and thirty seven Alders. How ‘bout you?”

“About the same. Except the fish. Didn’t get any of those.”

Well, what do you know! He’s a little short on experience, but already he’s becoming a purist!

April 15, 2007

Why?

Filed under: Cherry Peak roadless area, Conservation, Environment, Montana, Nature, Outdoors — montucky @ 10:33 pm

Penrose Peak, Cherry Peak, Eddy Mountain ( and lookout) in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, Lolo National Forest, western Montana.

Eddy Mountain

These peaks lie in a 35 square mile area that for 20 years has been designated as “non-motorized use”. It’s the last bastion of wild country in this whole section of the Coeur d’Alenes.

In the upcoming plan for Lolo National Forest, this whole area will be opened to snowmobile use and logging will be permitted in the drainage of two of the ten creeks whose headwaters are within the area .

I am compelled to ask: “Why in the world would we want to do that?

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