Montana Outdoors

November 21, 2007

Once again, the Parks lose

Filed under: Conservation, Environment, Idaho, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Wyoming — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:09 am

The issue was whether to permit 540 snowmobiles per day into Yellowstone or limit winter access to guided snow coaches.


“Snowmobile opponents wanted to see the machines eliminated from the park, saying they cause air and noise pollution, while snowmobile supporters want more, arguing many local businesses rely on income from snowmobilers.”

So, the argument was reducing air and noise pollution in the Parks versus local businesses relying on income from snowmobilers, and
guess who won?

THE INFAMOUS MAGIC WORDS “public access” again!

November 15, 2007

The infamous magic words

As reported in this story, when 86 lawmakers across the U.S. asked the Park Service to limit motorized winter travel in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks to trips aboard guided snowcoaches as a means of protecting the Parks, guess who the 10 politicians were who got together to oppose that plan, saying “the need to preserve the parks needs to be balanced against public access“? (Essentially the same argument was used against the Wilderness Bill, HR 1975.)

The 10 are:

Denny Rehberg, (R) Representative, Montana
Jon Tester, (D) Senator, Montana
Max Baucus, (D) Senator, Montana
Bill Sali, (R) Representative, Idaho
Michael K. Simpson, (R) Representative, Idaho
Larry Craig, (R) Senator, Idaho
Mike Crapo, (R) Senator, Idaho
Barbara Cubin, (R) Representative, Wyoming
John Barrasso, (R) Senator, Wyoming
Michael Enzi, (R) Senator, Wyoming

It’s becoming obvious that these western politicians feel that the magic words “public access” provide an almost universal excuse for permitting all possible exploitation of the outdoors. Who would dare to be so cynical as to say that maintaining their constituents’ ability to make the maximum amount money from the National Parks in their area, despite whatever damage it might incur, has anything to do with it? I guess it must not be all that important to be concerned about the environment. (Don‘t worry about the world of Nature: what the heck… it‘s not as if we can’t make more!)

They remind me of a group of prostitutes who, when there is a crackdown on their activities, counter it by advertising “everyday low prices”!

The real argument here should be about how and what it takes to adequately protect the environment of the parks. When, and only when that has been determined and accomplished does it become appropriate to address the amount and types of access that are reasonable and acceptable. Until then to simply talk about “balance” between the two is nothing more than misleading rhetoric used by those to whose advantage it is to continue a maximum level of exploitation.

October 19, 2007

The balance

There is a balance which exists between mankind’s existence on and use of this Earth, and the ability of the natural world to support such existence and use. We don’t yet know what all of the rules are, or the boundaries and limitations. And yet…

A proposed Congressional Act, The “Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act” (HR 1975), which was designed to preserve much of the last remaining wild and natural country in the Northwest was discussed in the House of Representatives yesterday. The principal arguments against the Act were made by some politicians from a few western states who, under the guise of calling it a territorial dispute, want to retain the right to exploit National Forest System and public lands for the benefit of themselves and their own supporters, entirely disregarding the much larger issue.

We in the west are governed, in large part, by fools.

An A.P. story about yesterday’s discussion in the House may be found HERE

Information about HR 1975 may be found HERE

Information about the current roadless areas which are the areas addressed by the bill can be found HERE. This site will display maps of the roadless areas as road maps, topo maps or satellite maps.

A free printed copy of HR 1975 can be obtained from Congress by calling and requesting it at this phone number: 202-226-5210.

Since Wilderness designation is a big issue, there is an excellent website about wilderness which is a partnership project of the Wilderness Institute at The University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation, the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute which may be found HERE

June 2, 2007

Wildflowers of Munson Creek, lower elevation

One of the many places I have chosen to explore this summer is the 13,902 acre Teepee-Spring Creek roadless area near my home in Western Montana. Last Wednesday I enjoyed a ten hour hike through the East side of it along Munson Creek which begins its life just below the summit of Big Hole Peak and flows nearly due South before entering into the Clark Fork River.

The hike began just off Montana Highway 200 at the mouth of Munson Creek at an elevation of 2,400 feet, continued for 6 miles to the 6,900 foot top of Big Hole Peak and then back down again. (I’ll not do that again! Next trip I’ll stay for one night at the top before heading back!)

The lavish display of wildflowers in the spring is awesome, but nowhere more so than in the wilderness areas. I have posted photos of several dozen different wildflowers over the past month, and they all had representatives along Munson Creek. Included here are new photos of some of those, but also some of flowers I have not seen elsewhere. The following were found in about the first 3 miles, up to about 4,000 feet and, as usual for me, there are a few I can’t identify.

Feathery False Lily of the Valley
Maianthemum racemosum

Feathery False Lily of the Valley

Displaying a strikingly similar type of leaf as the False Lily is this one which must be a close relative, but it has a different blossom design.

Unknown white wildflower

This one was nearly overlooked. At a casual glance, it looks something like a dried stem of grass about six inches tall. Closer inspection shows that stem is really blossoms of about 1/8 inch diameter, all in one long straight line. No clusters for this little guy!

Unknown white wildflower

Here is the first Violet that I’ve seen so far, and there were many of these along the creek where they were well shaded by the tall cedars. Nice little flecks of yellow to contrast with the green.


I have no idea what this little blue flower is, but it certainly has a pleasing color scheme! I saw only this one plant.

Unknown blue wildflower

I had photographed the Clematis earlier, on a mountain about 20 miles away, but I can’t resist showing these blooms which appear to be flying.


In my next post will be photos of the blossoms of the higher elevations.

April 26, 2007

More on the Wilderness Bill H.R. 1975: opposition

When the new Wilderness Bill was announced, Montana’s only member of the House of Representatives, Denny Rehberg, immediately came out in opposition to it in a poorly worded, poorly organized and factually empty statement quoted in this story in the Missoulian: “I oppose this legislation because it’s a top-down approach that doesn’t properly take into account the impacts on the local economy. Nor does it adequately protect access for hunting, fishing and other forms of recreation,” Rehberg said in a statement. “I’ll continue to work to implement responsible policies to protect Montana’s natural resources.”

Is there perhaps more motivating his opposition to the bill than that simplistic statement implies?

In March, 2007, Rep. Rehberg held a fundraising event at, of all places, the exclusive Yellowstone Club near Big Sky Montana., which is owned by, as pointed out in this story in the Billings Gazette his friend Tim Blixseth. While some of us might have been able to scrape together $1,000 to attend the event, most of us couldn’t come up with the minimum price for a home there ($1,000,000) or even the $300,000 necessary to join their private country club.

Rep. Rehberg’s friend Blixseth is an interesting person. As mentioned in this story in the Missoulian titled “World’s most expensive home’ for sale in Big Sky”, Blixseth “built the ultra-exclusive Yellowstone Club, a members-only ski and golf resort. Several years ago, he sold a 20-acre lot there for $20 million, at that time the most expensive housing lot in the state. He put the club together after buying 140,000 acres of scattered Plum Creek Timber Co. lands in 1992, then going through a series of land swaps with the U.S. Forest Service that consolidated both public and private holdings. Blixseth and his partners paid about $25 million for the Plum Creek properties, he has said”.

There was also an interesting story in the March 5, 2006 edition of the New York Times about the life and career of Tim Blixseth. It appears he is one of the highest-rolling developers in the world today. Here is that story.

Considering Rep. Rehberg’s ties to Blixseth, I am compelled to ask: is Rep. Rehberg motivated to support the preservation of Montana’s natural resources, or the exploitation of them? I am reminded again of the two sets of rules: one for the rich, and one for the rest of us. It is beginning to appear obvious which set of rules Mr. Rehberg has chosen to by play by.

It seems to me that the saving grace here is that Wilderness bill H.R. 1975 is neither in the hands of Denny Rehberg nor Tim Blixseth, really: it is now at the National level and in the hands of the American people. The natural resources that it would protect, while located in the five Western states, belong to everyone in America. Because it is at the National level, you all can play your own parts in this by voicing your opinions to the elected Representatives from your own states.

At the moment, it seems that Montana doesn’t seem to have anyone in the House to defend our natural resources. However, I think a vote of thanks should be given to its sponsor, Rep. Carolyn Maloney from New York and all of the bill’s cosponsors from other states who can be seen listed here.

April 25, 2007

Wilderness Bill: A Washington resident’s viewpoint

I was delighted to see this post on Random Musings this morning.

aullori’s response is exactly what I wish we would see from people all over America who are concerned about our natural resources.

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