Published quarterly by the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club
Black Bear. USFWS Photo.
by Monica Fella
Spring has sprung, and we aren’t the only ones “waking up” from a long winter. All over Montana, warmer weather is bringing grizzlies out of their dens.
When bears awake, they are in a daze, and their only intent is to find food and find it quickly. They search in the same places that you and I are taking our first day hikes, bike rides, or horse rides. Here are a few ways to avoid unwanted bear encounters.
Make Noise and Protect Yourself
Avoid areas experiencing bear activity and travel in groups during daylight hours. Make noise; bears want to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them. Announce your presence by calling out or clapping, especially around loud streams, on windy days, and in areas of low visibility. Although bear bells are a joke to locals, they do work. Stay on trails to reduce the chance of sudden encounters, and always carry–and know how to use–bear spray.
Keep a Clean Camp
While camping in bear country, take steps to keep an unwanted ursine guest from visiting in the night. Always store attractants (food, trash, beer, coolers) in a secure vehicle or bear box. Keep your tent free of these items and any toiletries that have an odor. When backpacking, hang your food a minimum 10-15 feet off the ground and 4 feet from any potentially climbable tree or structure, and cook and hang food at least 100 yards away from your sleeping area.
During an Encounter
If you encounter a bear that doesn’t see you, backtrack the way you came, slowly and quietly. If the bear does see you, don’t panic or make sudden movements. Avoid direct eye contact and talk calmly to the bear to let it know you are human and not a threat. If the bear charges, stand still—bears often bluff charge. Now’s the time to pull out your bear spray! Remember, you cannot outrun a bear or climb a tree better than it can.
Don’t Leave a Buffet in Your Backyard
When natural foods are sparse, as is typical in spring, bears will seek out unnatural sources of food, showing up in people’s backyards in the spring and all summer long. Bears that become habituated to human food sources can become aggressive and threaten property, pets, and people—most of these bears end up dead because of the risk they pose. It is our responsibility to keep these attractants away from bears. In fact, Montana law (SB 104 Sec. 87-3-130) restricts people from “knowingly providing food sources to bears.”
- If you live in bear country, keep your garbage inside until collection day. You can also ask your sanitation company for bear-resistant trash cans.
- Never leave pet food dishes outside.
- Keep your bird feeders at least eight feet above ground and four feet from any structure. Be sure to put them away in mid-September.
- Burn grills clean and store them in your garage when they're not in use.
- Secure livestock grains and salt blocks.
- Finally, fence in fruit trees and bushes and remove compost piles during summer.
If we all do our part and act responsibly, we can avoid following in the footsteps of states like Colorado and California, where grizzlies are nothing more than memories.
For more information on staying safe in bear country, visit www.sierraclub.org/grizzly.
Rocky Mountain Front. Photo by Cameron Naficy.
Saturday June 20 - Missoula area Float Trip.
Enjoy a leisurely float, comraderie and river-side lunch on one of our beautiful local waterways. We’ll choose a local class I river section depending on weather and water levels. For ages 12 and up. BYO raft, canoe or kayak. Email Liz at westernlass(at)aol.com.
Saturday June 27 - Service Outing, Weed Pull and Demo Project Tour in Sawmill Gulch Elk Habitat.
Along with some Great Old Broads for Wilderness, help remove houndstongue (a weed) from elk winter range in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Meet at the main Rattlesnake Trailhead north of Missoula at 8 a.m. We’ll be done by noon, giving volunteers a chance to recreate or head home for chores. We’ll clip the seedheads (triangular stick-tights) from houndstongue toward the top of the meadow. We’ll also take an interpretive-sightseeing 1+ mile hike through the wildland-urban interface forest thinning demonstration project and learn about the latest habits of the North Hills Elk Herd, which winters in the area. Long sleeve shirt, long pants, sturdy footgear, work gloves, and protective eyewear are required. Bring your own gloves and hand clippers if you have them. We will have gloves and clippers on hand for those who don’t have their own. Contact Bert Lindler 542-7645 or blindler(at)montana.com.
Tentative date, Sunday June 28th - Spring Wildflower Hike to Packer Meadow/Lolo Pass.
Join us for this annual 8 mile hike on the Lee Ridge or (depending on conditions) the Lewis and Clark/Nez Perce Trail as we hike from Lee Creek campground (Hwy 12) up to Packer Meadow to see the spring wildflowers and hopefully see the purple Camas blooms in Packer meadow. This is a moderately strenuous hike. Horticulturist Adrienne Hopkins will help us identify wildflowers and plants along the way. Bring your lunch and plenty of water. Spring snow conditions will determine the date. Contact Adrienne at 543-3755 or email John at: yodelingdog(at)hotmail.com.
Saturday & Sunday July 18 & 19 - Old Growth Western Red-Cedars Great Burn Backpack.
Just 30 miles west of Missoula lies the famed Great Burn Roadless Area. In addition to jagged granite peaks and expansive sub-alpine meadows, hidden pockets of ancient western red-cedar–spared by the great fire of 1910–remain in several drainages. Some of these giants are more than 500 years old! If you love untouched forests and pristine waterways, this trip is for you. It is an easy 10 mile (round-trip) overnight backpack up the west fork of Fish Creek. Anglers, bring your fly rod for a chance to catch westslope cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout. Space is limited. To sign up, email trip leader Bob Clark at bob.clark(at)sierraclub.org.
Saturday & Sunday August 8 & 9 - Great Burn Backpack Service Outing.
Enjoy the high country of the Great Burn and help clean up lakeshore campsites. This trip takes you to Cedar Log Lakes on the Montana side of the Bitterroot divide. The trail winds along the divide in and out of Idaho, past Kid Lake to Upper Cedar Log Lake. Indian paintbrush, beargrass, hemlock, and sub-alpine fir are among the variety of flora to be found here. Fauna includes; moose, bears, and wolves. Cutthroat trout swim the waters of these high mountain lakes so bring your rod and MT fishing license. Plan to spend time packing up trash and cleaning up heavily-used campsites. This is a joint trip with Sierra Club and Great Burn Study Group. Space is limited. To sign up, email Beverly Dupree at thegreatburn(at)yahoo (dot)com.
To find out more about participating in these Montana Chapter Sierra Club outings, or if you’d like to share your favorite wild places by leading a hike or canoe trip in your region, please contact the Outings Coordinator, John Wolverton at: yodelingdog(at)hotmail(dot)com.
Earth Day Eve Film Festival
Tuesday, April 21st, 3 – 10 pm
University Center, Theater
University of Montana Campus, Missoula
Join us on the eve of Earth Day for a showing of three powerful films: Kilowatt Ours, Burning the Future, and Grizzly. The three films will run in succession from 3:00 – 6:00 pm and then again from 7:00 – 10:00 pm. Free and open to the public!
Kilowatt Ours is a documentary by Jeff Barrie that has become a national movement to promote energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy. The film is being used by Sierra Club’s Cool Cities Campaign.
Grizzly, which is narrated by Oscar Award-winning actress, Susan Sarandon, tells the story of two individual grizzly bears living in Yellowstone National Park and also documents the lives of ranchers, politicians, researchers and homeowners living in areas surrounding the park.
Burning the Future challenges the notion of “clean coal", documenting the devastating ecological, social, and health impacts of coal mining and mountaintop removal. The film follows the explosive forces that have set in motion a groundswell of conflict between the coal industry and residents of West Virginia, where over 1.4 million acres of mountains have been destroyed and over 1.200 miles of streams obliterated.
Sponsored by Sierra Club and UM Environmental Studies Program.
The North Hills and LaValle Creek Elk Herds
Thursday May 14th, 7pm
Best Western Grant Creek Inn
5280 Grant Creek Rd. in Missoula
The annual meeting of the North Hills Elk WorkingGroup will feature University of Montana graduate student Shawn Cleveland who will discuss the findings of his two-year study of radio-collared North Hills elk. Among other things, Shawn has shown that some elk from the North Hills "herd" (that winters largely between Rattlesnake and Butler Creeks) have taken up housekeeping with elk from the LaValle Creek “herd” (that winters between Butler Creek and Evaro Hill).
Shawn has also shown that the midwinter elk damage hunts on ranches between Grant Creek and LaValle Creek split the North Hills herd into smaller groups, helping to distribute elk across the winter range.
Finally, he’s been able to show that although the North Hills elk are living on the edge of town, they’re nearly as scared of persons on foot as elk in wilder areas. That’s important because if the elk lost their fear of people, they would be living in the yards of the homes that surround the fringes of their winter range.
Vickie Edwards, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist who manages elk in the North Hills, will discuss the status
of the North Hills and LaValle Creek elk herds. Based on her elk counts, the number of elk in the North Hills herd has been going down (to around 250 elk) and the number of elk in the LaValle Creek herd has been going up (to around 150 elk). The total (around 400 elk) has been stable over the past couple of years, indicating that the various hunts (including the early season, permit-only hunt in the Rattlesnake Wilderness) have stemmed growth of the North Hills herd, which was doubling every seven years.
by Bob Clark
Legislative Lobby Day.
More than a dozen members and volunteers from around the state joined us at the Lewis & Clark Public Library on January 30th in Helena to learn about lobbying their representatives in the Montana Legislature to protect the environment. Our group received a short lobby training in the morning (special thanks to Ann Hedges of Montana Environmental Information Center!), ate lunch, and then set out for the Capitol building for the afternoon. The intent of Lobby Day is for participants to see how their State government works and to connect directly with House and Senate representatives. Most members of our group either met with or sent a message to their representative on a key environmental Bill. The focus was on energy efficiency and Clean Car legislation. Many members of our group sat in on a Committee Hearing on a bill to adopt California Clean Car Standards and gave verbal testimony! We rented a van from Missoula and several members came from other parts of the State. What an empowering, successful day of action!
Lobby Day was sponsored by the Montana Chapter.
by Brad Hash
During late summer of 2007, the Sierra Club launched the National Coal Campaign as the logical evolution of one of the Club’s three campaign initiatives: to stop the coal rush and clean up old coal plants. The campaign, critical to dropping the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable level, has since swelled from a handful of activists dedicated to leading the nation away from dirty coal-fired power and into a clean energy future to over 60 coal campaigners spread throughout the country.
And now Montana is home to two of those Sierra Club coal campaigners – Mike Scott in Billings and Brad Hash in Missoula. Mike and Brad, hired in January as part of what is now officially the Move Beyond Coal Campaign, are working hard to: challenge proposed coal-fired power plants in the state; increase efforts to phase out the oldest, heaviest polluting plants; address the entire cycle of coal from mining to transportation to combustion and its consequences; and step up efforts to support clean energy solutions.
Not long after Mike and Brad came on board, and in large part resulting from the concerted efforts of the Sierra Club legal team, Montana Environmental Information Center, Citizens for Clean Energy, and Earthjustice, the proposed Highwood Generating Station (coal-fired power plant) and Malmstrom coal-to-liquids plant were shelved.
Yet there was little time to celebrate. Two coal-to-liquids plants (one with its own coal mine) are currently in the planning phase and ground has already been broken in the massive expansion of the former Bull Mountain coal mine near Roundup. These developments, combined with the fact that coal provides 52 percent of Montana’s electricity, have helped set the course for the Move Beyond Coal Campaign in the state.
The good news is that Montana is rich in renewable energy potential—the state is currently ranked fifteenth in wind-energy production but has the potential to rank as high as fifth—and Montanans are keen to the idea that energy production from clean sources like wind, biofuels, geothermal, and simple conservation measures benefits everyone and helps maintain and strengthen Montana’s heritage of clean land, air, and water, and healthy wildlife and fisheries.
To learn more about how Montana’s Move Beyond Coal Campaign is phasing out coal power and ushering in a clean energy future, or to volunteer, contact either Mike at (406) 839-3333 or Brad at (406) 531-8759.
by Bruce Hunner
Scientists predict only a 50% chance of preventing a two degree centigrade increase in global temperatures if we reduce CO2 emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 (some say by 2025). The International Panel on Climate Change IPCC regards this as an international emergency. Because of the great need to take action, the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club is purchasing carbon offsets for all road and air miles accrued during official meetings, outings and educational sojourns.
There are many methods for calculating the value of carbon emissions as offsets, ranging from $5 to $50 per ton. If you'd like to help offset your carbon emissions, make sure to do your own research to determine variations due to fuel type, combustion efficiency variables, etc. In general, one gallon of gas weighs 6 pounds (not 8 like water), of which 5 of the pounds are carbon. The atomic weight of oxygen is greater than carbon and two oxygen atoms are picked up in the combustion to a ratio of 3.667. So, along with other undesirables, one combusted gallon of gas will release close to 20 lbs. of CO2. The typical American sedan getting 20mpg releases 1 lb. of CO2 per mile!
The Montana Chapter will add all transportation miles accrued in a given year and buy offsets at the rate of $10/ton while assuming 20lbs. CO2 was released per mile. This is with the knowledge that the USA with its 4% of the world's population consumes 26% of all the worlds oil output. It is evident that our great Nation owns more than just a little bit of the responsibility for atmospheric changes. The average US citizen's CO2 outlay equates to 20 tons/yr while the average Canadian releases 16 tons and the average Filipino 0.7 tons/yr. The Dutch are somewhere between the Canadians and Filipinos while producing a lot of world class cyclists and living comfortably in warm homes. Bicyclists, by the way, while not combusting fossil fuels, get an enjoyable cellulosic equivalent (beans, rice) of close to 1000mpg. Yes it took fossil fuels to make the bikes but only a fraction of the 5.2 tons of CO2 output required to make your car.
The offsets will be purchased through American Forest and/or Native Energy as they are both reputable and stable institutions in this very new corporate sector. Forest research finds an average of one tree absorbing 1 ton of CO2 over 40 years. This figure is hugely variable depending on ambient temperatures, soil quality, water, species, etc. But, this value is a legitimate peer-reviewed assumption to start our program. There are survivability issues with trees, so the protocol is to plant 3 trees per ton to get a more guaranteed 40 years absorption rate. Many carbon funds invest in alternate energy and do not deal with vegetation.
If you care to offset your own CO2 released in transit, divide total trip miles by mpg, multiplied by 20lbs CO2. But for your total outlay per year you must add home heating, fuel to produce your food, etc. Some of the following websites accept your offset funds and all the following sites offer insightful information: Carbonfund.org, treecanada.ca, americanforests.org/globalreleaf, nativeenergy.com, treesftf.org. Chooseclimate.org/flying is an excellent site to surf while trying to estimate offsets needed for your flying time. In brief, the site claims your CO2 output on a roundtrip flight from the Pacific Northwest to Zurich is 2010kg, which is close to two tons and is the reason I personally started to offset my carbon. Flying jets at 30,000 feet has an extreme impact on the atmosphere. For every pound of carbon released at sea level the equivalent impact at elevation is 2.7 pounds because of issues with radiative forcing due to nitrous oxide and ozone.
As an overview: trip locally, buy into alternative energy, insulate to the max and go Dutch by setting those bicycle tires rolling. With 40% of all domestic car trips in the USA being within 2 miles of the driver’s home, there would be minimal physical demands and fewer environmental dues to pay when more Americans get with the program. It is why our Montana Chapter does most of it’s communicating via phone and Internet.
Bob Clark, Associate Regional Representative (Missoula). I have been with the Sierra Club since 2001 and currently work on a variety of issues including public land and wildlife protection, forest and watershed restoration, energy policy, engaging hunters and anglers, and building partnerships with non-traditional allies. I work through agency administrative channels to maximize protections for wildlife, land, and water while engaging elected officials and the public. I am a former Army medic, construction worker and union organizer and spend my spare time exploring wilderness with my three children, wife and many friends as well as fishing and hunting in season.
Monica Fella, Associate Regional Representative (Bozeman). I work on the Northern Rockies Wildlife and Wildlands Campaign, which focuses on protecting grizzly bears, promoting coexisting with wildlife in regional communities, and protecting habitat for grizzlies, lynx, wolves, elk, moose and other wildlife unique to the Northern Rockies.
Brad Hash, Associate Regional Representative (Missoula). I am a Montana coal organizer, the focus of my work being to reduce our state’s overall CO2 output through a grassroots campaign to stop proposed coal-fired power plants and Montana coal and coal-fired power consumption throughout the state and the Northwest, while working to shift our state’s energy economy toward cleaner, greener renewable sources.
Mike Scott, Associate Regional Representative (Billings). I am working to help Montana make the transition from dirty coal-fired power to renewable energy. We will be actively supporting a new energy economy in the state by acting as a watchdog on new coal projects, mines and plants. As our understanding of the consequences of releasing more carbon into the atmosphere becomes clearer, it is a true paradox that the state would move forward on new coal projects. Therefore, I will be organizing folks who oppose these plants and mines so that no more new coal comes online or out of a mine in Montana.
Paul Shively, Senior Regional Representative (Missoula). After leaving Montana for 7 years to serve as the Senior Regional Representative of the Sierra Club in Portland, OR, I moved back in 2007 to assume a similar role in MT. I now manage the staff and programs in MT, WY, and ID. When I am not at work, I can be found spending time with my dog Tabor or rafting and fishing the rivers of MT and OR.
210 N. Higgins Ave., Ste. 222
Missoula, MT 59802
PO Box 9283
Missoula, MT 59807
Main Line: (406)549-1142
Line 2: (406)549-0732
Paul Shively, Senior Regional Rep., paul.shively(at)sierraclub.org
Bob Clark, Associate Regional Rep., bob.clark(at)sierraclub.org
Brad Hash, Associate Regional Rep., brad.hash(at)sierraclub.org
2401 Montana Ave, Suite 5
Billings MT 59101
Mike Scott, Associate Regional Rep., mike.scott(at)sierraclub.org
222 East Main St., Ste. 303
Bozeman, MT 59715
Monica Fella, Associate Regional Rep., monica.fella(at)sierraclub.org
Larry Evans, Bruce Hunner, Jonathan Matthews, Jay Mennenga, Jerry Nichols (Chair), Raina Phillips (Secretary), Jeff van den Noort (Vice-Chair), John Wolverton
Conservation/Litigation, Jerry Nichols
CCL Delegate, John Wolverton, Jonathan Matthews (alternate)
Election, Larry Evans
Energy, Jonathan Matthews
Finance, Jeff van den Noort
Treasurer, Gia Randano
Fundraising, Bruce Hunner
Membership, Raina Phillips
Montana Smart Growth, Bruce Hunner
Newsletter, John Wolverton (chair), Rebecca Richter (editor)
Nominating, Larry Evans
Outings Coordinator, John Wolverton
Political, Johnathan Matthews
Website Manager, Jeff van den Noort
Please send your letters, articles, photographs, illustrations and advertisements to:
OR mail to:
Rebecca Richter/PO Box 3766/Missoula, MT 59806
The Montana Sierran reserves the right to edit or reject submissions at its discretion.
Submissions must include first and last name with city/town (and state, if outside of Montana). Please include your phone number and email address so we may contact you.
Please e-mail digital photographs at 300ppi in .jpg format. Including a caption and credit is always appreciated.
Deadlines for content submission are on March 21, June 21, September 21, and December 15.
Please contact me at (406)546-9658 if you have questions concerning file formatting or content submission procedures. I look forward to hearing from you!
-Rebecca Richter, Editor