Mountain High 

The most threadbare quote in the world of nonprofit training and other under-funded endeavors comes from cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, and I’m so sick of its overuse that I’ll simply paraphrase: Little enclaves of pissed-off people can force big change.

Take Minnesotan James Horsley, for example. Mr. Horsley sent the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) a letter petitioning the agency to protect the Yellowstone bison herd under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in January 1999.

In snappy governmental style, FWS sent Horsley a reply this month.

The response is a mixed bag, according to the perennial watchdogs at the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC), but the agency does recognize that the Yellowstone herd meets the criteria of a Distinct Population Segment, and that the Park is the only place in the U.S. where bison have continually existed since prehistoric times. These are both important facts to support an ESA listing.

Unfortunately, FWS documents reveal that the agency doesn’t consider the buffalo threatened, however, because the limited range granted them seems adequate for their government-suppressed numbers.

Now is the time to make Margaret Mead proud. The BFC is urging all bison supporters to send comments to FWS asking that they fully research the herd’s historic native range, migratory corridors and genetic significance. For talking points, links to Mr. Horsely’s petition and the FWS response, and more buffalo info than you can shake an electric cattle prod at, visit buffalofieldcampaign.org.

Once you’ve finished typing and submitting your comments, feel free to sample as many or as few of the following events as your civic-minded heart desires:

On Sat., Sept. 1, get an early start and be completely worn out before the Marines are even out of bed when you take part in the Garden City Triathlon at 8 AM at Frenchtown Pond State Park. The swim-bike-run combo benefits the Montana Campus Compact, there’s a Kids Triathlon as well, and to get involved you can call 243-5177 or visit mtcompact.org.

If helping college kids help the community doesn’t move your cold, cold heart, maybe you’d like to pedal up a mountain just for the hell of it. Whitefish Mountain Resort invites you to tackle the Huckleberry Hill Climb on Sat., Sept. 1, a mountain bike race with two separate courses and several age divisions. Get your bike and helmet together and call 862-2900. 

Or sleep in and get yourself properly caffeinated instead and you’ll still have time to get the young’uns to REI on Reserve Street for the Kid’s Passport to Adventure Appreciation Event at 10 AM. Mark the end of summer’s hikes and bikes along with the Watershed Education Network and the Montana Natural History Center, both of which provide activities to keep the kids from realizing that school’s right around the corner. Call 829-0432.

Wisdom’s hottest attraction, the Big Hole National Battlefield, hosts a set of presentations by Travelers’ Rest State Park Native American program coordinator Rob Collier at noon and 3 PM on Sat., Sept. 1, and at noon on Sun., Sept. 2. Collier will share stories passed down by Native elders who helped Lewis and Clark gather information for the Great White Father in the East while they were cruising the Bitterroot Valley. Call 689-3155.

In aqueous news, Paddle MT and the Canoe Rack offer an all-day follow-up session on Sun., Sept. 2, for those of you who’ve attended their Art of the Roll kayak class. You’ll glide across the surface of the waters of Tarkio Gorge after meeting up at 9 AM. Call 251-0040 or visit canoerack.com.

On that same day—Sun., Sept. 2, that is—those irrepressible Rocky Mountaineers have quite a jaunt planned. The goal is to climb to the top of Heaven’s Peak in Glacier National Park, an ambitious day trip that involves 5,000 feet of elevation gain and, it would seem, quite a lot of driving. Get the lowdown on this collaboration with the Glacier Mountaineering Society by e-mailing Jim at jhckal@yahoo.com.

Summer ain’t over till the dog comes down with chlorine poisoning, and to make that point abundantly clear, Splash Montana presents their End of Summer Ice Cream Social on Mon., Sept. 3, at 1 PM, just a few hours before Missoulians are allowed to bring their favorite non-human family member—no cats, okay?—into the tepid waters of the orange fun emporium at 7. Call 721-PARK with questions, concerns and/or injunctions. 

Lastly, the Watershed Education Network, a group of dedicated aquaphiles bent on producing a citizenry “in the know” about their watery surroundings, presents the first of several Stream Monitoring Trainings at 4 PM on Wed., Sept. 5, at the Greenough Park Pavilion. This is the first step on your path to becoming a volunteer in the schools with the group, and if you can’t make it, there are several more trainings just down the pike. Call 541-WATR or visit montanawatershed.org.

Folks, Comrade Calendar is proud of you. Not only have you submitted your rabidly pro-bison—but not crazy-sounding, right?—comments to FWS, but you’ve also managed to thoroughly enjoy our wondrous natural surroundings this week. As Margaret Mead might’ve said, “You da shizzle, peeps.”
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