Mountain High 

Hotshot canoeists from as far away as Japan will be flocking to the Blackfoot River this weekend to compete in the 2004 U.S. National Open Canoe Slalom Championships. Taking place at Roundup Rapid (the biggest, at Class III, on the Blackfoot), spectators will watch as many as 120 competitors negotiate their boats up, down and across 3-foot waves and numerous holes in an attempt to cleanly pass through 20+ “gates” suspended across the river. It’s free for spectators, and excellent shoreline vantage points exist along the 500-yard course. Call race chairman Alan Burgmuller (363-1199) for more info.

In tamer waters, Missoula Parks and Rec (721-7275, wants your input on the Garden City’s newest get-wet options, “splash decks,” soon to be installed at Bonner, Franklin, Westside and Marilyn Parks.

“These interactive water playgrounds consist of features that spray, mist, or dump water on users,” says the press release, and since the water is heated, filtered, treated and immediately drained, they are safer than wading pools.

Future users are encouraged to help with the designs, so be sure to attend the Open House on July 12 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the UM University Center, Room 332.

Kids’ input is welcome, too, and to accommodate the younger set, a “Splash Decks Design Charrette” has been organized for July 13, from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the McCormick Recreation Building. Pizza is provided, so all 4- to 14-year-olds should wait 20 minutes, and then start thinking about what they’d like to see in a water park.

Every weekend through the end of September the Great Burn Study Group will lead volunteer monitoring trips into the wilderness in a front-lines effort to assist the Forest Service in documenting trashed campsites, illegal motorized use, invasive weeds and other threats to this unprotected (but roadless) area. If hiking in one of Missoula’s less-visited-but-nearby wild areas sounds like your idea of a good time, call field studies coordinator Dave Harmon at 542-1625 to get wild.

State law requires all bowhunters to pass the Bowhunter Education course prior to purchasing a bowhunting license in Montana, and the final two courses are coming up quick. This year’s last two courses begin on July 12 and July 26 and run from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Hunters taking the three-day courses must also attend the July 29 evening course at Blue Mountain to be certified. The first-come, first-served class size is limited, and there won’t be more courses before hunting season, so show up early at FWP Regional Headquarters, 3201 Spurgin Road in Missoula, to reserve a space.

Confucius say: Buffalo who run near snowmobile get exhausted. Twice in the past two decades, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks have conducted lengthy reviews on how snowmobiles affect the parks. Not surprisingly, both studies have determined that the loud, inefficient machines displace wildlife, damage resources, and require park workers to don gas masks and ear protection in order to prevent long-term damage associated with working amidst the fuel-intensive machines. These studies recommend snowcoaches as a less invasive and more appropriate method of motorized winter transport, and that ‘bilers should find locales other than the world’s premiere national park to shred away the winter. Public comment has strongly supported this option.

Snowmobile manufacturers have pushed back, saying that preventing the two-strokers from entering the park is a sort of discrimination, and that the gateway towns of West Yellowstone and Gardiner would suffer irrevocably if the machines are banned. You can chip in your two bits through July 13 by logging on to

Learn how logging on a plot of land next to the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area will affect the biological interactions between fungus, lichens and old growth by joining the Native Forest Network, Ecology Center and Fungal Jungal on Sunday, July 11. Meeting at 9 a.m. at Bernice’s Bakery, this field trip is free and open to all. Registration is required, however, so call the Native Forest Network at 542-7343 to posse up.

Julie Warner and the Rocky Mountaineers will be tromping up to Morrell Falls and beyond to explore the less-popular falls higher up the draw on July 10, so call her (543-6508) to check it out.

Meanwhile, fellow Rocky Mountaineer Karen Apland (273-7877) will head up into Jewel Basin, with a possible trip up to the high point, Mount Aeneas. Boot skiing will still be possible on some of the north-facing chutes, so dress appropriately.

The Montana Natural History Center is teaming up with The Raptors of the Rockies to see 16 species of captive hawks, owls and eagles, and then heading to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge to observe their wild brethren. The July 10, 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. tour runs $10 for MNHC members, $15 for non-members, and registration is required, so call the center (327-0405) to get on board.

If you’re like most of us, you’re probably loaded with irrational fears about the massive predators slinking about Montana’s forests. You can dispel some of this dread by joining Dr. Charles Jonkel, (president of the Great Bear Foundation) for an educational FWP lecture called “Bear Necessities.” This talk about coexisting with wolves, bears and mountain lions takes place at Beavertail Hill State Park on July 10 at 7:30 p.m. For more info, call FWP coordinator Jay Slocum at 542-5533.

A more genuine risk faced by Montanans is West Nile Virus, and getting educated about this new problem is the first step toward preventing it. Jim Carlson, director of environmental health for the Missoula County Health Department, will discuss the virus, the human problems it causes, and how to lessen the risk of infection. Join Carlson on Friday, July 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Beavertail Hill State Park. For more info, call Slocum at 542-5533.

Not only is skateboarding not a crime, but at the YMCA it’s also a way to win gift certificates, trophies and more. Skaters age 10 and up will compete in different divisions and be judged on technical difficulty, style and variation, with a “Best Trick” competition to follow. Competition takes place on July 10, and registration ends at 10 a.m., so call Skate Park Manager Lev Bates (721-9622) to get in the game.

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