Maybe you’ve noticed or heard the news. There are some fires burning in Western Montana. So that means your public lands may not be as open to you as you’re accustomed to expecting. Currently, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Bitterroot, Kootenai and Lolo National Forests are all reporting fire-related closures. You’ll want to check for restrictions that may impinge upon your backcountry or river adventure plans; start by checking out www.nifc.gov/fireinfo/nfn.html for fire information and contact numbers for follow-up.
The city of Missoula has also imposed fire emergency restrictions on activities on Mount Sentinel and Jumbo as well as the North Hills. Riverfront trails and other city recreation areas like Greenough Park, the Bugbee property and Tom Greene Park remain open, so you can still enjoy some local gems. For information on city restrictions, visit www.ci.missoula.mt.us. While you’re out there, remember that fire’s a fact of life here, so don’t do anything stupid to encourage it.
And, even where there’s no fire, the heat is still putting pressure on fish and wildlife populations. Because of this, Montana FWP is imposing voluntary fishing restrictions on the Blackfoot River and tributaries beginning Sat., Aug. 13. These restrictions ask anglers to refrain from fishing outside of morning hours on the main Blackfoot and from all fishing on important Bull trout tributaries. Call 542-5500 for details.
Enough already of what you can’t do. Here’s some of what you can.
The Rocky Mountaineers head up to the West Cabinet Mountains for a weekend trip to an unnamed point about 7,000 feet up. The trip leaves Friday evening and returns as early as Saturday, though the main group will be maxing and relaxing through Sunday. Call Steve Schombel at 721-4686 for more information.
If you want to head south instead of north, The Wilderness Institute at UM plans a Sat., Aug. 13 through Mon., Aug 15, trip into the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness to measure human impacts on the region. Dinners and transportation from Missoula are complimentary with your willingness to help. Call 243-5361 to register.
If you just can’t go into the wilds without your video camera or are looking for a way to interest your gadget-obsessed young’un in outdoor adventure, consider signing up for the International Media Center at the Roxy Theater’s Intensive Documentary Film/Video Workshops. Call 728-9390 for information about fall classes.
When people go into the woods, with or without a camera, they’re bound to fall down or get sick sooner or later. Learn how you can be a medical missionary with a Wilderness First Responder Course from Aerie Backcountry Medicine. The 72-hour course, being held in Condon from Aug. 18 through 26, costs $500 ($650 including lodging) and will prepare participants to care for injuries and illnesses in remote locations. Call 542-0072 to register.
And, always, there is the opportunity to learn from nature herself. Stalwarts of outdoor education, The Glacier Institute and Montana Natural History Center, present some options in that area.
First, The Glacier Institute offers two classes this week in Glacier National Park. The “Belly River Wilderness: History and Biology by Backpack” session from Sat., Aug 13, to Mon., Aug. 15, includes strenuous hiking and lessons on the geology, botany and human history as well as discussion of the unique features of the Belly River area. “Glacier’s Grizzlies and Black Bears” reprises an earlier briefing on the same topic, this time in Camas Meadow. Call 755-1211 for more info on either.
Closer to Missoula, the Montana Natural History Center has some other educational encounters. The first is the Sat., Aug. 13, Big on Bugs Saturday Discovery Day, where your whole family can meet live insects from 10 AM to 3 PM for a nominal fee. If you’re looking for a more specific and utilitarian encounter with insects, check out the free Knapweed Biocontrol Collection Workshop with Prairie Keepers at 6 PM on Tue., Aug. 16. Collect knapweed root-boring insects for the common good and take some home for dispersal wherever you’d like to see knapweed bored into.
Finally, MNHC holds a training session on Wed., Aug. 17, for individuals interested in volunteering with the Visiting Naturalist in the Schools program this fall. Call 327-0405 for more info about any of these opportunities.
Finally, at the risk of being labeled the boy who cried chip seal, I’ll venture another warning about road work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. Last week’s work has been rescheduled for Aug. 16 through 19 due to some difficulties with a subcontractor. While the work is being done, there’ll be delays on the road, although passage will still be possible.
Right now, it’s cool but breezy outside. I have no idea if that’s going to make it smokier or easier to douse the burning. Only your local foresters can answer these questions. I am, however, happy to hear their answers or anything else related to the outdoors. Drop me a line.