If you like clean water, or public control over environmental quality in any sense, there’s some public affairs information that you might want to try to wrap your head around. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the United States Supreme Court heard the appeal of a developer named John Rapanos, who was convicted of flagrantly fouling the Clean Water Act when his request for a permit to turn some wetlands into a shopping mall was denied, and the guy just went ahead and did it anyway. Thus far, all the lower courts have concluded that Rapanos deserved to be convicted, but he’s arguing that the government has no say in whether a private property owner chooses to destroy wetlands because those are not covered by the Clean Water Act, since they’re neither navigable waters nor adjacent to navigable waters—never mind that wetlands all drain into creeks, rivers and lakes.
I won’t bore you with all the gory legal details of this case. But, coming as it does at the beginning of John Roberts’ and Samuel Alito’s careers on the Supreme Court, U.S. v. Rapanos stands to be a fine test of whether those two justices intend to decimate the power of the federal government to regulate environmental quality. It’s not the kind of thing that probably goes through your head while you’re cruising down a river in your favorite watercraft—or filling up a glass of water—but, then, public inattention and ignorance are how these guys got on the Supreme Court in the first place. You know, it might be a good idea, next time, to try not getting fooled again.
But enough about public policy; let’s just have some fun outside.
One way to do that is to break your bike out for a short and slow ride following the old cemetery road from Greenough Park to Grant Creek Road during the Graveyards to Grits Geezer Ride that embarks on its 15-mile trip at 10 AM Saturday, Feb. 25. Ride organizers promise Cracker Barrel to anybody who makes it all the way. Now there’s a powerful incentive.
If you’d rather run than ride, you probably don’t need any excuses like an organized ride to go. By way of contrast, I spend most of my time thinking of excuses not to go running, even though I manage to psyche myself out occasionally. Anyway, that poor exercise ethic is why I won’t be headed to the Snowjoke Half Marathon in Seeley Lake. But that’s no reason for you not to go; get to registration on race day—Saturday, Feb. 25—between 9:15 and 10:30 AM so you‘ll be ready to go when the timer starts at 11 AM. And, what the hell, send me your time and I’ll make you semi-famous.
A good warm-up for the half-marathon would be a hike in the mountains. And you’re in luck if that sounds like a good idea, because the Rocky Mountaineers are heading up a peak called Ward Mountain in the Bitterroots on Friday, Feb. 24, for a trip with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Don’t these people have jobs? Find out by calling 240-7612.
No need to go all the way to the Hamilton area if all you need is just a little exercise, because if you’re one of those people who wasn’t so effed up by high school gym class that you still like team sports, you’ve still got time to beat the Wednesday, March 1, roster deadline for UM Spring Intramural Leagues in tennis, soccer, softball and ultimate Frisbee. And, if you’ve only just realized that team sports can be pretty fun when they’re not being used to sort varsity athletes from the geek squad, maybe you should try turning out for the Free Agent Roundup at the front desk of the Fitness and Rec Center on 6 PM the same day rosters are due. You can get on a team and give it the old college try.
If you just need a quick hit of competition, not a whole season, try the Flag Football Tournament scheduled for Saturday, March 4. To do so, you’ll need to get your team signed up by 7 PM on Thursday, March 2. And, to get more info on any UM Fitness events, including Spring IM leagues, give a call to 243-2804.
And finally, the weather:
I saw the snow falling today. In fact, I even got to wear my ski goggles on the bike ride to work. Hopefully, it keeps coming and Western Montana gets enough for me to justify a trip to a ski hill. As for what the conditions look like now, Bozeman-area hills are having powder days anyway, and I expect that Western Montana has got a few more in store.
One place there’s always fresh snow is in the backcountry. And now there’s a new stop for those inclined to venture into the uncultivated wildlands, and you’re going to need electricity to get there: www.missoulaavalanche.org. It’s a website being maintained through a partnership between UM’s Campus Rec program and the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation to supply avalanche information to backcountry users. It’s not exactly a one-stop deal; the forecast online during the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 21, covered the period from Friday, Feb. 17, to Sunday, Feb. 19. But if you time your visits to the site and to avalanche country right, the information collected there may well be indispensable. Give it a shot and let me know if it steers you right or not.
I’ll be here digging out from under an avalanche of e-mail, no doubt.