Montana Outdoors

September 26, 2007

A river in peril

I have been posting fall photos of a section of Thompson River here in western Montana. There are three in this post and three more that I will post later. It seems important to me not to just show some scenery that I think is truly beautiful, but to show this river for what it is and has been. It may not be this way much longer.

The land bordering the river over its southern twenty miles until it flows into the Clark’s Fork of the Columbia is part of the Lolo National Forest: it is owned by all of us. Along the rest of the river upstream however, including the stretches where these photos were taken has been owned for a long time by the Plum Creek Timer Company.

Plumb Creek historically managed its land for lumber use, and as such served as a sort of separate extension of the forest: its ownership was transparent. Now, Plumb Creek is no longer a timber company, but a REIT (real estate investment trust). They are now actively engaged in not only the sale of their lands but in a rapidly growing number of cases, the development of them.

Possibly and in my opinion probably, this prime view property will be sold or developed for very high-end homes, trophy homes perhaps, for the pleasure of the very wealthy. Much of it is already being heavily logged, and my guess is that, as soon as the REIT decides the profit will be at the maximum, will be sold or developed. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. The days when photos like these can be taken here are most likely numbered, and I shudder to think of what the quality of the rest of the river could become if the upstream portion is developed.

Thompson River

Thompson River

Thompson River

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