Saturday, February 28, 2015
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Has David Slain Goliath Again?

Right in the midst of their battle against ExxonMobil, residents along Idaho’s Highway 12 received an email from an unlikely but eminently appropriate source. An Israeli activist fighting gas exploration in the Elah Valley found their website,, and wished them well in their struggle. The Elah Valley was the site of the famous duel between a young shepherd boy and a giant warrior 3,000 years ago. Visitors can stay walk along the brook where David chose five smooth stones for his trusty slingshot. Read More »

Montana Fly Shops Welcome New Customers: Hair Stylists

Despite their reputation as hangouts for brawny hook and bullet types, fly-fishing shops--particularly the fly-tying sections--have always been a tad swishy. No matter how you slice it, scores of straight-faced men poking through purple Krystal Flash and pearl Flashabou or inquiring about the next shipment of pink chenille isn't exactly manly. But a recent women's hairstyle trend has upped fly-fishing's "fabulous" factor another notch: rooster feather hair extensions. According a recent NPR story, the trend originated at western music festivals like Burning Man and Sasquatch, but has since spread to various pop celebrities, most visibly, "American Idol" judge and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. And while some fly tiers decry the increased competition--and higher prices--for their materials, a few fly shop owners are happy to see a boom in business. Read More »

AUDIO FEATURE: Voices From the New West Festival

The New West Festival in May brought together an eclectic group of Rocky Mountain enthusiasts and entrepreneurs who examined the quality of life, work and play in the region. From an opening keynote about climate change, with practical solutions for reducing carbon footprints, to a closing session about entrepreneurism and the funding of new businesses, the day was packed with interesting ideas for personal and professional growth. Read More »

Coming Home: It’s About the People

I was a young and naïve adventurer when I first left Montana for the Big City years ago. I was afraid but I was much more curious, and it didn’t take much encouragement for one summer internship at San Francisco Magazine to turn into a professional life spending more than two decades away. During those years, I lived in two major cities (San Francisco, San Diego), a few storied towns/suburbs (Tiburon, Sausalito, Los Gatos, La Jolla), one house, many apartments and a cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains. I had a few roommates, male and female, and I finally found happiness living alone with cats. (Lots of city people find happiness living alone with cats: epic and/or epidemic, you be the judge.) Through it all, I missed my Rocky Mountain people. It was an undercurrent, and the missing of them took many guises (denial among them), but the truth is that I always felt a little bit way down deep that I had run away from home. To some wonderful places, places with some wonderful people, no question about that, but it was always quite clear to me that I was not at home. While I was happy to tell people that I mostly lived in San Francisco, because it truly is a fantastic place to live, I always added a note: But I am originally from Montana. Read More »

Coming Home: An Untied Tongue Returns to Montana

When I first moved back home to Montana last year, people encouraged me to write about the experience. A year later, I finally understand why I couldn't do that at the time. It has taken a full year – a cycle through four very distinct seasons – to combat the writer’s block that paralyzed me from this simple task. It’s a strange thing, this connection to the land that drew me home. It informs everything I think, and it informs everything I do. It has such a hold on me that it required a year of penitence (for ever leaving in the first place) before it loosened its grip and my pen. What I finally realized is that, in order to leave in the first place, I had to shut off a part of my spirit to find the courage to go. But it has worked on me, this year and this land, and now my finally-addressed heartbreak of the first leaving, the first loss, so many years ago, has begun to heal. I am not sorry I left and yet I now understand the full toll that the leave-taking exacted on my psyche and my spirit. Read More »

AP: Feds Knew Wood Piles Could Further Contaminate Libby, Montana

An Associated Press investigation discovered that the Environmental Protection Agency, in charge of clearing asbestos concentrated in Libby, Montana -- the deadliest Superfund site in America -- has known for at least three years that piles of wood chips and bark people put in their yards and parks contained asbestos. According to an AP story published today, the EPA "did not stop removal of the material" until reporters began investigating in early March. The levels of the contamination and its effects on humans are not known, according to the story, "EPA documents obtained by the AP showed that the agency found potentially deadly asbestos fibers in four of 20 samples taken from the piles of scrap wood in 2007." Read More »

Flood Problems Slowly Decreasing for Rocky Mountains

Flood warnings still haven’t dropped this week for cities in southern Wyoming, eastern Utah and northern Colorado, the National Weather Service reports. Baggs, Wyo.; Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs, Colo.; and Green River, Logan, Vernal and Duschene, Utah, were all under flood warnings Friday. Utah’s Moab and Manila and Colorado’s Kremmling, Vail and Rifle remain on flood advisories. Last week’s flood advisory around Heber, Utah, has been lifted. Central and southeastern Wyoming are under several flood warnings, including Laramie, Rawlins, Dubois, Riverton, Lander and Greybull. Lowlying areas outside Sheridan and Cody are also affected. Read More »

Post-Flood Mosquitoes: Just How Bad Will They Be This Year?

As flood waters recede throughout the Rockies, another problem has begun to plague parts of the region: swarms of mosquitoes. Several mosquito control groups throughout the region have observed an increase in the blood-sucking bugs and have taken steps to try and curb them. Many mosquito species in the region can lay eggs that can last several years, said Joe Conlon, a technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association. Larvae lay in dry places, waiting for water, and when the water comes, a bumper crop of mosquitoes is often the result. Mosquitoes in some parts of the Rockies could be an even bigger problem later this summer, Conlon said. “The mosquitoes that you find in the Rocky Mountain region are adapted to colder temperatures and elevations that you’d be surprised to see breeding,” he said. “The point is that you if you go past 10,000 to 12,000 feet, you’re not necessarily going to be mosquito-free.” Read More »

Flooding Still Affecting Rockies, But Water Expected to Recede

Idaho’s Lemhi River reached its 6.5 foot flood stage at 5 a.m. Friday, triggering a warning from the National Weather Service, aimed at local ranchers, who should expect flooding along the waterway from Tendoy to Salmon. Upstream rains mean alerts are still out for the Teton River in Madison and Fremont counties, which is just below flood stage. Minor flooding on low ground near St. Anthony, Sugar City and Rexburg is expected late Friday through Saturday. Flooding on Henry’s Fork Thursday is also impacting agricultural lands and local roads around Rexburg. Lake Pend O’Reille at Hope and the Pend O’Reille River below Albeni Falls are flooding Bonner and Pend O’Reille counties. Lake residents can expect flooding in yards, boat ramps and local recreational areas. Snowmelt is feeding flood waters on the Bear River from the Wyoming border to Stewart, Idaho. Dingle and Pegram areas are advised to keep close watch. Read More »