Montana Outdoors

November 6, 2017

Early touch of winter

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , — montucky @ 4:40 pm

After about a week, the snow has finally stopped and a couple cold nights are coming up (temps in the low teens (F) so today I went on a short hike on a favorite forest road. The snow was deep enough to make hiking a little unpleasant, but the trees are nicely decorated.

Spring Creek road

Spring Creek area

Spring Creek area

Spring Creek area

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August 28, 2017

Night watch

Filed under: Montana — montucky @ 4:55 pm

Night watch

His senses are far superior to mine: I wonder what data he was receiving from beyond my flashlight beam.

August 5, 2017

Wild Horse Plains

Filed under: Montana — Tags: — montucky @ 9:59 pm

Wild Horse Plains

In western Montana the Clark Fork of the Columbia River flows through a valley called “Wild Horse Plains”.

July 21, 2017

Two photo day

Filed under: Montana — montucky @ 10:26 pm

Koo Koo Sint Ridge

Today’s hike on Koo Koo Sint Ridge was truncated by the heat. Some days are like that.

Indian Paintbrush

The flowers up in that region are showing the effects of the very hot and dry weather. Even the Indian Paintbrush were dry and turning brown. This one which was growing in the shade was the best I could find.

July 15, 2017

A weed and its nemesis.

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 3:05 pm

Spotted Knapweed

Spotted knapweed ~ Centaurea stoebe

While its blossom might look pretty, this plant is one of the worst of the invasive plants that has long infested this area. It develops into huge masses and is found nearly everywhere, including the forests where it has been introduced from seeds carried by logging equipment and in some cases from seed in hay brought in by horse packers and riders.

It has a large tap root that sucks up available water faster than the root systems of its neighbors and it releases a toxin from its roots that stunts the growth of nearby plants of other species. Once started in an area, knapweed is very difficult to eradicate. Mowing or cutting only helps it spread faster. Spraying is expensive and introduces all of the negative impact involved with toxic chemicals. Often sheep are used to control it with some degree of success. Knapweed does however have a nemesis: the Knapweed Root Weevil.

Knapweed Root weevil

Knapweed Root weevil ~ Cyphocleonus achates

This half-inch long weevil is a specialist that feeds exclusively on spotted knapweed and does not attack any of the native flora. The female lays her eggs on the top of the knapweed’s root crown. After the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the root. This larval feeding destroys knapweed’s vascular root tissue and prevents the plant from transporting water and nutrients. Roots become swollen and deformed as a result of this larval feeding and the plants eventually die.

The hillside on the east side of my driveway is quite steep and exists in its historical natural condition, but somehow became severely infested with spotted knapweed. In August of 2010 we learned of a field seminar conducted by an extension agent from MSU on biological control of knapweed by using these weevils and I attended. We met in one of the pastures of a very large ranch whose owner supported the program and proceeded to collect some weevils. Upon returning home with several hundred of them I distributed them according to the instructions and promptly forgot about the whole thing. One day a couple of years later I was walking down the drive and suddenly noticed that there wasn’t a single knapweed plant around. The weevils had done a remarkable job! None have returned since.

Yesterday I asked the new extension agent about the program because a friend has a huge problem with knapweed and found that they may possibly conduct that seminar again either this summer or next. I hope they do because I saw an ad just today for a weed control business that is selling the weevils for $1.40 each.

June 29, 2017

From the Black Mountain ATV trail 763:

Filed under: Montana — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:42 pm

Today a friend and I rode the Black Mountain ATV trail 763 in the Kootenai National Forest of western Montana that climbs a very steep ridge above the east slope of the Trout Creek drainage. It was a very tough ride (and my first ATV trail ride) and the trail was not ridable as far as we had hoped it would be, but still there were some nice views and I learned a whole lot about riding an ATV in rough country.

Black Mountain trail 763

Black Mountain trail 763

The mountains at the horizon are the Bitterroots along the Montana/Idaho border.

Black Mountain trail 763

The body of water is the Noxon Rapids Dam on the Clark Fork River

Black Mountain trail 763

Black Mountain trail 763

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