Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life-changing event

Posted on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:08 PM

In his "Trappers fight back" letter defending trapping (see Letters, Sept. 17, 2009), Rick Hawk expressed empathy for the man who was attacked by a raccoon in Seattle. I wish he would have had similar feelings of compassion for my neighbor when her beloved dog Buddy died a horrible death in a conibear trap set next to a popular skiing trail in 1997. When interviewed by the Daily Inter Lake, Bill Hawk, the trapper who set the trap and Rick's brother said, "This animal died because of its owner's stupidity."

For most of us there are relatively few watershed moments in our personal histories. That day after Christmas in 1997, when Laurie (my wife) and I skied up to our neighbor cradling Buddy's lifeless body in her arms, forever changed the way I encounter life. Sometimes it is difficult to know how we can live more peacefully in a world striven by violence, but of this I am fairly certain: The cruelty of recreational trapping does not honor the primacy of mercy to the weak, the powerless and the oppressed.

Bob Muth Sr.


Flower power

Posted on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:08 PM

The water consumption from the elaborate floral display at Southgate Mall is very troublesome to me. Water is one of the scarcest natural resources of our planet today and the threat of its disappearance from the earth forever is a very real one. When I asked the man at the mall watering the flowers how much water he wastes every day, he replied, "How much do I waste?"

To me, this is a gross example of the severe ignorance and/or lack of caring that has put our planet in the position it is in today. I then changed my tone and asked, "How much do you use?" He told me that he uses one gallon of water per basket, per day to water all the flowers on the facility plus some twice per day. My calculations, using those numbers, estimate the mall wastes 5,565 gallons of water in 4–5 months on these flowers. This is unacceptable.

The other thing I noticed, as I was attempting to talk to this man, was the loud noise overpowering our voices. As I walked away, I realized that the noise was coming from the machine running the water through the hose. I'm sure this machine is run by gasoline, one of the highest contributors to the greenhouse gases putting holes in our ozone.

I understand the proposed purpose of the hanging flowers; both my parents have worked in marketing and I understand the pros and cons to good presentation. Even with this knowledge, however, I still feel it is irresponsible to create the presentation in this way.

The last thing on my mind is money, though I feel to make the most impact on you, I must also include the financial facts. By not having these flowers, you will save over a thousand dollars over the course of 10 years on water alone, plus the cost of the actual hanging baskets. I highly doubt you will lose even near that amount of money from customers not entering the building because there were no flowers in the entrances.

Human beings have a responsibility to the planet on which we live. Thus far, our responsibilities have been shrugged off for selfish things like industry, vanity and standard of living. I hope all of these things enter your mind in the coming years when you make choices that have such a large and negative impact on the planet on which all of its creatures depend.

Danielle Standley


Yard sale injustice

Posted on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:07 PM

I could not believe what you wrote in "Fresh Facts" concerning yard sales (see "Words to the wise," Aug. 20, 2009). I have been to thousands of yard sales since the 1950s and have never seen dirty baby clothes. What an insult to mothers! The baby clothes I have seen are hardly worn and newly washed. I feel that you should publicly apologize to all mothers. And I don't think I have ever seen a broken dining room table! Yes, sometimes there are four people having yard sales on the same street, and possibly piles of polyester clothing and cardboard boxes of free stuff, but hardly ever held over until the next Saturday. Not being a skier, I don't know about gear scattered across Snowbowl, but as far as dirty baby clothes, never have I seen any. Your description of yard sales was completely uncalled for.

Doris L. Dey


Postmortem trifecta

Posted on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 3:07 PM

I read with interest your last cover story, "Dying to go green" (Sept. 17, 2009). It made me think of the green mantra: Reduce, reuse, recycle. One could follow through with that regarding one's body by being an organ donor (reduce/reuse) and then donate your body to medical science (recycle). When they're through with whatever is left of you, you could stipulate being planted as per R.C. Hooker's natural burial plan. A trifecta of a dying sort.

Dave Gay


Editor's note: R.C. Hooker died Sept. 21 in his Somers home. He was 64. He was buried the next day at Natural Cemeteries in the Swan Valley.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy anniversary

Posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM

On Thursday, Sept. 3, the Independent published an article on the first wilderness bill to be introduced in Montana in 15 years (see “War of words”). The article focused on allowances for military training and motorized use for sheep grazing in two proposed areas. What the article failed to mention is that September 3 was the 45th anniversary of the day that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law.

When that extraordinary piece of legislation arrived on President Johnson’s desk, it had already been through an 8-year legislative process that produced 66 drafts of the original bill. The first sponsor of the Wilderness Act in the Senate was Hubert Humphrey, a Democrat from Minnesota. The man who finally carried the bill through the House was Pennsylvania Republican John Saylor. After many compromises on all sides, a final version of the bill passed the House 374–1 and was eventually approved by a unanimous voice vote in the Senate. All told, more than a decade of collaboration between diverse interests was required to pass the original Wilderness Act.

While this part of the wilderness story is rarely told, Montanans have not forgotten that it takes years of cooperation and creativity to make our forests work for everyone. Sen. Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act represents years of grassroots organizing and countless kitchen table conversations. It puts all the pieces together: harvesting timber at sustainable levels and funding habitat restoration through timber sales, while conserving wild country for our children and grandchildren. For these reasons, the forest bill is supported by statewide and national wilderness groups, Montana timber mills and local snowmobile clubs right here in Missoula County. In fact, new polling shows that 70 percent of Montanans are backing the bill.

This kind of broad support is hard to conjure, but the Wilderness Act had it 45 years ago and Tester’s forest bill has it today.   Gabriel Furshong, Missoula

Don’t sweat small stuff

Posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 5:36 PM

While walking by a newsstand on campus last week, a headline jumped off the page at me from the Sept. 3 issue of the Independent, “Tester bill may rewrite the book on wilderness.”

I wasn’t sure what it was getting at, so I flipped to page eight. I found a piece dwelling on minuscule suggestions from the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act concerning sheep grazing and infrequent helicopter uses. What about the bigger picture?

The Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, which lead to the RARE (Roadless Area Review and Evaluation) process to recommend public lands for Wilderness designation. Following on the heels of RARE II starting in 1979, former Rep. Pat Williams worked to pass multiple wilderness bills for Montana, one of which was passed by both the House and Senate and then vetoed by President Reagan in 1988. This was the last time that a Montana wilderness bill was proposed by Congress. Twenty-one years ago!

In the past, Montanans have led the way with wildland protection. America’s first Wilderness was “The Bob” in our own backyard. “The Rattlesnake” was a model for community designated wilderness as well as cooperative multi-use areas. Now is the time for Montana to once again show the nation how it’s done!

Tester’s bill aims to work as a community collaborative. This bill truly reaches across the proverbial aisle designating large tracts of permanent wilderness, as well as releasing some areas (tied up in bureaucracy since RARE II) to timber harvest (creating important jobs), and designating funds from stewardship contracts back to much needed restoration projects. 

“War of words” seems to imply that there is a fissure between the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and environmentalists like myself. With support from conservation groups such as Trout Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation, the Montana Wilderness Association and the Wilderness Society, I beg to differ. If anything, this bill is a solution to many of the fissures that have kept Montanans from working together on public lands management for far too long. I fully support Tester’s efforts, and encourage other Missoulians to do the same.

Sarah Red-Laird, Missoula

Trappers fight back

Posted on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 5:34 PM

A response to Tom Woodbury’s recent Writers on the Range column is in order (see “Unfair and outdated,” Sept. 10, 2009). You just have to love a person who is willing to spend other peoples’ money or stop other peoples’ activities, especially when they use shadows, half-truths (or less) and emotion instead of clarity or fact. With this in mind, let us examine the column.

It says a hunting group, Montana Public Wildlife, Lands and Water is against trapping. Who is this group? The first 10 pages of a Google search fail to reveal the organization.

The column also says many independent wildlife biologists agree that trapping threatens the survival of several species. Name “many” for me, please. Let me see their research. Let me read their conclusions.

I could go on, but instead I would like to invite all who have not made up their minds and who like to use real information in their decision making to go to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website at Once there, go to the management heading and read “Trapping and Fur Bearer Management in North American Wildlife Conservation.” Please take note of the qualifications of the authors and reviewers, and weigh science and fact against the (non) information provided in the above noted article. Then please also weigh and question the statements from Footloose Montana. Lastly, do a little research into areas that have outlawed trapping. See for yourselves if there were any unintended consequences. I could tell you about some, like the man who was attacked by a raccoon in Seattle, but I think it would mean more if you found the truth for yourself.

Rick Hawk, Kalispell

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thinkin' men unite

Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 3:20 PM

I read Matthew Barry's letter (see "Shoved down," Sept. 3, 2009) regarding Obama, the FED and Healthcare with great interest and wanted to let him know I am in complete agreement with him. How dare this president and government try to "shove down" my throat a plan that would see to it, whether it's broken or not, that I get adequate health care. How dare they contrive a plan (I prefer to call it a plot) that would guarantee I won't lose my home if I or members of my family ever do suffer a catastrophic illness. I and Matthew demand a government that stays the hell out of our affairs and protects our right to die homeless and penniless. Right on Matthew, I'm behind you all the way. Who says all the "thinkin' men" are gone?

Alan Gelman

Greener pastures

Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Most issues of the Independent carry one or more ads encouraging residents to reduce the number of cars driven each day through use of public transportation or some other alternative. That the University of Montana administration needs to modify its current mindset along these lines is evident by how they honored Dr. Steve Running, our resident Nobel Laureate. It is incredibly ironic that the university recognized Running for his contributions in raising global awareness of the increasing ecological dangers of carbon emissions by providing him with his own personal parking space. [Editor's note: Running also received a covered bike rack from the student government, and he reportedly uses it more often than the parking space.]

Making driving to the university convenient and easy is not a great idea, even for our Nobel Laureate. Perhaps the administration of the university could honor Running through a bold and path-breaking gesture.

My suggestion is this: Don't replace the remaining green space on campus with new buildings. Instead, construct new buildings on the parking garages and lots. Reducing available parking on campus gives students, faculty and staff greater incentive to reach campus by some means other than driving their own cars and trucks. The city could do its part by expanding the current parking buffer around campus to at least a mile, where day-time parking is allowed only by neighborhood residents or persons with an appropriate permit. More individuals would opt to use public transportation to get to and from campus, thereby making it profitable for Mountain Line to increase its bus service throughout town (more busses and routes), and maybe light rail could someday become a reality for the Bitterroot Valley.

Paul Hendricks

Pinching his nose

Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 3:18 PM

My wife and I have lived in the Bitterroot Valley near Missoula for three years now. In that span, every time we have driven up Reserve Street we have been appalled by the stench (see "What's that smell?" Aug. 27, 2009). "How could this be happening in Montana?" we would ask each other.

On several occasions we inquired of local residents what the problem was. We were always met with blank stares and denials. No one would admit that they smelled what we smelled—crap!

Maybe we missed it, but your article was the first admission we have seen that there is a problem. Good work! But, wonder of wonders, the city is spending $80,000 of the taxpayers' money to determine the source of the problem, rather than simply following their noses and spending the money to actually fix the problem? Shame on them!

We love Montana, the Bitterroot and Missoula, but as good as it might be here, do Missoulians seriously think their crap doesn't stink?

Gee whiz, folks, ain't it oh-so-obvious that maybe we have a problem here? LOL! It's time to get your heads (and noses) out of the sand, Missoula! P.U.!!!!

Steven Baker

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