Mountain High 

Ever since Tom Maclay went public with his dream of building a major ski resort on publicly owned Lolo Peak, Montanans have been chipping in their two bits about the proposal. Some of the discussions are based on fact, some on fiction, but if you’re interested in getting some first hand knowledge, head up to these public lands with the Sierra Club to see for yourself.

On July 10, the Bitterroot-Mission Group of the Sierra Club will lead an exploratory trip into the 920-acre Carlton Ridge Natural Area, a unique stand of interbred larch that has received special protection for its unique characteristics. It’s part of the larger Lolo Creek Roadless Area, a 16,000-acre chunk of wild country slated for development—if the resort’s proposal goes through.

Retired forest researchers Stephen Arno and Clint Carlson will lead the eight-mile off-trail jaunt and “discuss the history, attributes and scientific values of the Carlton Ridge RNA.”

While hikers are warned to “be prepared for a rigorous hike down steep hillsides through brush and downfall,” it’s probably more efficient and more educational to go with this group than to set out for the same objective on your own. For more information contact Bob Clark at 549-1142 or

Speaking of Lolo Peak, you can help the Forest Service know how to better meet your needs by attending and commenting at the Forest Plan Revision Collaborative Group meeting, held July 7 at 7 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel. The second in a series of meetings seeking input on how forest users would like to see the Lolo National Forest managed, the meeting is an opportunity to voice your opinions. Get more details by calling District Ranger Maggie Pittman at 329-3948 beforehand.

The New Rocky Mountaineers are heading up to the 9,477’ “Sheep’s Head” July 2, and they want you to join in on this fourth-class rock-climbing adventure in the Missions. Participants will enjoy exquisite views of the venerable McDonald Peak and “lots of exposure [and] nice knobby things to hold on to.” Stronger folks might look to bag McDonald Peak while up top, since that massif closes to the public July 15. It’s also worth noting that adding McDonald to the day’s adventures would add an additional 2,000’ of down and up before returning to the valley. Interested parties should call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769 to get on board.

The Rocky Mountaineers and the Great Burn Study Group are heading in to Goose Lake for a three-day, 12-mile backpacking trip July 2–4. This loop will involve entering from the Idaho side, and participants should note that according to the group’s description, things might still be a bit vague: “[We’ll]…look for an outfitter’s camp and hunting trail, and if we find the trail it will loop us back to the Goose Creek trailhead.” Get the straight dope from trip leader Dave Harmon or Bev at 249-9901.

It’s hella nice being a homeowner, but the heavy doses of chemicals, water and invasive grasses that we’ve been conditioned to believe are part of a “normal” lawnscape can be enough to disillusion even the most dedicated yardbody. Those looking to create a yard that’s more in keeping with our native landscape should head to the Fort Missoula Native Prairie at 7 p.m. July 5 for a free “Prairie Seed Collection Workshop” with the Montana Natural History Center’s Prairie Keepers. You’ll get the scoop on how to replace your foreign yard with an honest Montana-scape, including how to collect seeds from wildflowers and bunchgrasses. Log on to: to learn more.

During the winter months, the trains skirting Glacier National Park’s southern border run the risk of being knocked off the tracks by avalanches. Given that, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad has asked the park to “perform avalanche monitoring, stability testing, and triggering” to help keep their cars on the tracks and out of the river. Part of this strategy could very well involve the use of explosives, and the park has extended its public comment period through July 22. But the slide paths aren’t the only slippery slopes involved in this, as the usage of ballistics within national park boundaries is nearly unprecedented. Skiers and animal watchers are the most likely to be affected by explosive-triggered slides, and anyone interested in being heard on this should log on to to get completely informed on the plan before commenting.

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