Mountain High 

Plum Creek owns a lot of Montana, including big sections that are being considered for designation as critical lynx habitat by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a move that would make subdividing and developing those parcels tougher than, say, if FWS decided not to designate the land critical habitat. So there’s a bit of a row brewing about the lynx and the land on which they live—or don’t live, depending on who you talk to.

You can weigh in officially by offering a comment on the proposed rule that would outline the lynx’s critical habitat by Wednesday, Oct. 11, though I’d appreciate it, as would the people who have to read your comments, if you would inform yourself in greater depth than the general sketch I’ve given. You can do that by checking in at and looking at the work that’s already been done by professionals.

One local man, Colin Ruggiero, is having his say with a film, Swan Song, that he made about the dynamics of lynx management in the northern Swan Valley, paying particular attention to Plum Creek and its interests. Ruggiero screens Swan Song at 7 PM on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. Please note, there’s a $4 suggested donation.

A less local and less political collection of moving pictures comes to the screen of Urey Lecture Hall on the UM campus at 7:30 PM on Thursday, Sept. 28, when the Trail Head and the UM Outdoor Program bring the Reel Rock Tour to Missoula for a screening of the globe-trotting climbing porn, The First Ascent, admission to which can be obtained for $9, or $7 if you buy a ticket in advance from one of the sponsors. Call 243-5172 if you need more dots connected.

Should your preference for policy discussion remain strong, you can channel that energy into a Sierra Club-sponsored hike to the Carlton Ridge Research Natural Area, located northeast of Lolo Peak, on Saturday, Sept. 23. A couple of retired research foresters will explain the significance of the tree species located in the RNA during this moderate 10-mile hike with some off-trail travel, and someone will probably mention all that development at the base of the mountain that’s eyeing its upper reaches, too. Call 543-6696 to join the movement.

Another chance to meet up with others who love the land, the water, the air and policy debates about the quality of those things is the Wild Rockies Rendezvous, taking place at the Birch Creek Center in Dillon from Friday, Sept. 22, to Sunday, Sept. 24. Registration is required and it will be getting late by the time you read this, so give the WildWest Institute a call at 542-7343 to see if you can still get in on the event.

If you can’t, fear not, for the Rocky Mountaineers are also enthusiastic about the outdoors, though perhaps less so about engaging in animated discussions about the best ways to conserve or exploit the resources found there. Anyway, you can find out the wonk content of the Rocky Mountaineers with whatever conversation you can squeeze in during a hike or bike trip scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23. If participants opt for hiking, it will be up St. Mary Peak in the Bitterroots, and if they go for biking it will be in the Rattlesnake. Call 327-0566 to register your input and join the trip.

I did some biking in the Rattlesnake last weekend, up to the drainage where a friend got an elk just hours into opening day. He went to where the elk were, three miles and 3,000 feet up from where we stashed our rides, and it didn’t take long for him to bag an enormous bull—not nearly as long, in fact, as it took for five of us to get back up to the spot and get the meat out of there in the rain and snow that was our constant companion along the way.

It was certainly cold and wet enough in those hills that no one was going to be starting a fire without some serious effort, a fact local forests acknowledged by dropping fire restrictions on public lands. That’s not an excuse to be reckless, of course, but it’s certainly a license to warm your camp with a fire.

Go ahead and warm my mailbox with some correspondence while you’re at it.

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