Mountain High 

Conrad Burns is “excited” to tell those on his listserve that the Gallatin National Forest has extended the comment period on its travel plan—where you can go in the forest, and how you can get there—through Aug. 1. While Burns chooses not to mention the erosive, knapweed-dispersing and/or polluting nature of the off-highway vehicles (OHV) at issue, he is “concerned [that] limiting OHV and snowmobile use could have a significant negative effect on our state as a whole.” Note that Gallatin Supervisor Becki Heath claims to be “working with the Montana Congressional delegation,” which presumably means that Burns’ office has been explicit about how Burns wants the forest managed. It’s your forest too, so weigh in by logging on to www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin or calling Loretta Ray at 587-6703.

And speaking of your national forests, the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Montana’s First “Healthy Forest Restoration Act” project was released last week, and if you’re interested in checking out what the Forest Service has planned for the upper reaches of the East Fork of the Bitterroot River, you should join the Native Forest Network, the Montana Logging Association and the Bitterroot NF reps at the Sula Clubhouse May 4 at 9:30 a.m. for a field trip. “The Middle East Fork Hazardous Fuel Reduction Project” (didn’t we used to just call them “trees?”) will be the subject of the all-day tour, focusing on what NFN is calling “the more egregious aspects of this project,” including the cutting of “Douglas-fir trees up to 4 feet in diameter.” Call the NFN at 542-7343 to get a carpool together, or just to learn more.

When rain and snowfall are as meager as they’ve been, Montana’s trout end up with warmer, lower-grade pools to weather our long, hot summers. In order to raise funds for these silent water dwellers, UM’s Environmental Law Group is hosting the “Bulls, Brews and Blues” Bull Trout habitat benefit. Live music, a raffle and complimentary food/drink is provided; an $8 donation is requested. Keep in mind that all proceeds go directly to protecting the endangered fish’s habitat, and head over to the Stensrud Building April 28 at 8 p.m.

And speaking of trout…Anyone needing assistance with casting technique can hit Grizzly Hackle April 30 from 12 to 4 p.m. for “Customer Appreciation Day” Refreshments are provided, as are (free!) knot-tying lessons and fly-tying demos, so call Matt McGinnis at 721-8996 for more info.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the record for the longest living wild bird belongs to the albatross, at least one of which lived more than 50 years—the same amount of time that Montana Audubon Society President Jim Brown has been birding. You can join Brown April 30 for a field trip to Brown’s Lake to view waterfowl, raptors, Sandhill cranes and other avian neighbors. And while no sightings are guaranteed it’s worth noting that last year’s trip yielded an impressive 65 species. Pack a lunch and meet at the University of Montana Adams Center parking lot at 8 a.m. to carpool. Call Brown at 549-8052 for the scoop.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is offering two bowhunter education courses in May, the first beginning May 9 and the second May 23. Both courses include three days of classroom instruction followed by a field course, and are available on a limited, first-come basis. First-time bowhunters and those under the age of 18 are required to pass the free course before buying an archery license, although anyone interested in bowhunting is encouraged to attend. Call FWP at 542-5500 for more info.

Flathead Valley Community College has a spring full of kayak events planned—including a Wild Horse Island Wildflower Discover Day by Sea Kayak and some kiddie camps as well—so call 756-3832 to get in the game.

Hundreds of volunteer UM teachers and students are joining 28 sixth-grade classes for the 11th annual Clark Fork Watershed Festival April 28–29. It’s a celebration of Missoula’s water and where it comes from, and you can chip in your time by calling Brian Williams at 327-0405.

On April 30 you can join Rocky Mountaineer Steve Schombel (721-4686) for a walk up the pleasant Bitterroot showcase canyon known as Blodgett. Although you’ll be surrounded by some of the highest, most spectacular granite towers outside of Yosemite, the trail itself is a chill stroll along a waterfall-rich stream meandering through prime moose habitat. The trip is as long as you want it to be, and participants are invited to charge hard for a few dozen miles or just take it easy. Call Schombel to get in the game.

Gerald Olbu is leading a New Rocky Mountaineers trip to Holland Peak April 30, a snowshoe/ski/posthole trip to the tallest peak in the Swan Range. Count on a steep, “interesting” ridge walk and a long day, but call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769 for more information.

Billing itself as “Missoula’s Top Road Race,” the 33rd annual Riverbank Run has something for everyone—a 1-mile, a 5K, a 10K and a trifecta of them all—and all dues-paying participants score the coolest race shirt around. Help raise funds for the YMCA by logging on to www.ymcamissoula.org/home.html.

Send your outdoor news to photo@missoulanews.com.

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