Apr 21 2014

Mercury-tainted fish found in Glacier Park’s Lake McDonald

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Here’s a considerably more detailed article on the recent announcement of unacceptable mercury levels in some fish in certain areas of a number of western national parks . . .

A “first-of-its-kind” study released last week discovered mercury in fish in some of the most remote and pristine lakes and streams in national parks across the western United States and Alaska – but it wasn’t a surprise to Glacier National Park fisheries biologist Chris Downs.

Glacier is updating information for a brochure it already puts out regarding guidelines for fish consumption from waters inside the park because of contaminants such as mercury, which is harmful to both human and wildlife health.

“The national study continues to demonstrate that contaminants are reaching places we think of as isolated or protected,” Downs said. “Because of airborne transport, it’s a global issue.”

Read more . . .

Further reading: The actual report (PDF format, 6.7MB), Mercury in Fishes from 21 National Parks in the Western United States—Inter- and Intra-Park Variation in Concentrations and Ecological Risk.

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Apr 21 2014

Mac Minard: North Fork protection needs straight vote

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, is circulating a testy opinion piece on the legislative shenanigans hindering passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .

North Fork protection passed the House but fell short in the Senate — for the wrong reasons.

The North Fork Watershed Protection Act is a bipartisan legislative effort that started with former Sen. Max Baucus in 1974, and represents locally driven efforts to protect the historic and majestic North Fork area in the Flathead Valley. The legislation has tremendous support within the outdoor community and has received endorsements from various groups concerned with land management decisions and conservation efforts.

Rep. Steve Daines joined the effort last year, and introduced a companion bill in the House. A few months ago, in what was nothing short of a herculean effort, freshman congressman Daines ushered the North Fork Watershed Protection Act through the House with strong bipartisan support — a huge milestone. The House passage of North Fork Watershed Protection Act, which has been around for several decades, represented the first time the bill passed either chamber of Congress.

However, two weeks ago, this important bill was blocked in the Senate by what can only be described as an election-year political stunt.

Read more . . .

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Apr 19 2014

High mercury levels found in small percentage of national park fish

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Not clear what it means yet, but a study turned up high mercury levels in some national park fish…

Federal scientists have found high amounts of mercury in sport fish caught in remote areas of Western national parks, including Glacier National Park, according to a study released Thursday.

Researchers for the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service said that most fish they caught had acceptable levels of mercury, but 4 percent exceeded healthy levels.

Mercury occurs naturally, but scientists say its presence in national parks, which are supposed to leave wildlife unimpaired for future generations, was cause for concern.

Read more . . .

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Apr 18 2014

Kellyn Brown: North Fork politics

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

Over at the Flathead Beacon, Kellyn Brown is not happy about the political process surrounding the North Fork Watershed Protection Act . . .

The real problem with the failure to pass the North Fork Watershed Protection Act is how it happened. Others can argue over the merits of the legislation, but let’s take a look at how the sausage was made. Or, in this case, not made.

Both Montana Sen. John Walsh and Rep. Steve Daines, who is challenging Walsh in the forthcoming U.S. Senate election, appeared eager to pass this bill and lay claim to protecting an area that conservation groups and energy companies alike agree should be off limits to new mineral development. To be clear, this is a rather noncontroversial bill. In a letter, ConocoPhillips’ vice president expressed support for the added protections.

Anymore, that matters very little, because Congress eagerly uses convoluted and preposterous rules in the name of politics. And this is just the latest perfect example of why many of us sit back dumbfounded by the ease at which this country’s governing bodies tie themselves into knots so they don’t have to do any real governing.

Read more . . .

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Apr 18 2014

Flathead National Forest hosts NCDE spring meeting

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

The Flathead National Forest is providing space for the spring Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem meeting. Here’s the press release . . .

Next Steps for Grizzly Bear Conservation & Bear Management Updates

The public is invited to participate in the upcoming Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) Spring Meeting hosted by the Flathead National Forest.

The meeting is scheduled from 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM on April 23, 2014 at the Hungry Horse/Glacier View and Spotted Bear Ranger District Office located at 10 Hungry Horse Drive in Hungry Horse, Montana.

During the meeting there will be an update on the time line and next steps for the Conservation Strategy Plan, efforts to provide a new Grizzly Bear Lesson Plan for high schools, bear mortality rates for 2013 and bear management spring activity.

The Flathead National Forest is one of many agencies and organizations working to ensure the sustainability of the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. Additional information on those efforts can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/continentalindex.html

Click here for the NCDE Spring Meeting agenda.

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Apr 16 2014

Whitefish Range Partnership Agreement summary available online

For those of you interested in the Whitefish Range Partnership Agreement, but who don’t wish to wade through an entire ring binders’ worth of material, a two page summary of the agreement is now available to view or download in PDF format.

We have hosted a copy of the agreement summary here: http://www.gravel.org/files/04.15.2014_WRP_summary_Final.pdf

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Apr 16 2014

Framing the change: an evening of art, science and music

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Got a note from the folks at the National Parks Conservation Association about a climate change focused “mulitmedia extravaganza” to be held Saturday, April 26 at the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish. Tickets are $5 at the door. Here’s the write-up, lifted shamelessly from their press release . . .

An Evening of Art, Music & Science, April 26, 2014

Stories from the Mountain, Songs From the Soul

Tales of Climate Change, Inspired by Glacier National Park

A year after Glacier National Park was established in 1910, University of Montana professor Morton Elrod lugged a large camera to a scenic point and snapped a photo of Jackson Glacier. An artist as well as a scientist, Elrod sold park images through his family postcard business.

In 2009 scientist Lisa McKeon photographed the exact same scene from the exact same location. Sideby-side, but separated by 98 years, the twoimagesreveal a striking truth of climate change — a great glacier nearly gone in less than a century. That stark contrast has inspired a new generation of artists to translate science back into art, bringing attention to the urgent issues of climate change.

Two of those artists will be in Whitefish on April 26 to join scientists and musicians for an evening of visual stories, reflection and knowledge about the real-world impacts of climate change caused by carbon pollution. These creative thinkers bring planetary climate change down to the human scale, prompting us to grapple with how our species and others can adapt to a powerful new reality. The multi-media extravaganza caps a day of gatherings in 14 Montana communities, including five in the Flathead, seeking Montana climate solutions.

WHAT: Stories from the Mountain, Songs from the Soul
          Tales of Climate Change, Inspired by Glacier National Park
WHERE: Whitefish, O’Shaughnessy Center, Tickets $5 at the door
WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.
WHO: Artists, scientists and musicians including:

  • Dan Fagre, Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, West Glacier
  • Lisa McKeon, Physical Scientist, U.S. Geological Survey, West Glacier
  • Diane Burko, Painter, Philadelphia
  • Joy von Wolffersdorff, Professor of Art, Northridge, California
  • The Crown of the Continent Choir
  • Left Side Brains, Youthful bluegrass

Earlier on April 26th, residents in five Flathead towns will spotlight Montana climate solutions through community discussions, music, and rallies. All events begin at noon.

BIGFORK: Climate and Community Gathering, Downtown Bigfork: Join your neighbors to discuss the issues, ask questions, explore solutions, and take action. Noon

COLUMBIA FALLS: Honk and Wave in Support of Climate Solutions, Highway 2 and Nucleus.

Rally for climate solutions. Bring signs to support climate solutions. Noon.

KALISPELL: Jamming for Climate Solutions, Depot Park Rally, featuringthe Tropical Montana Marimba Ensemble. Bring signs to support climate solutions. Noon.

PABLO: Roundtable Discussion with speakers, Salish Kootenai College, The Late Louie Caye Sr. Memorial Building. Lunch Provided. 12-3 p.m.

WHITEFISH: Dance a Jig, Honk and Wave for Climate Solutions, Corner of Spokane and 2nd Street, featuring the youthful bluegrass sounds of the Left Side Brains. Noon.

“Climate change is a big hairy challenge,” said Laura Behenna, coordinator of the Kalispell event. “We’re trying to make sense of the science through the most human of endeavors: art, music, sharing stories, talking with your neighbors. By meeting the climate challenge at a personal and community level, we can begin to find the abundant climate solutions available to us as Montanans.”

To learn more about specific events contact local coordinators:

Bigfork: Jeffrey Funk, 837-4208

Columbia Falls: Diane Taylor, 892-1640

Kalispell: Laura Behenna, 257-2116

Whitefish: Steve Thompson, 250-9810

Pablo: Kirwin Werner, 676-8988

For more information about An Evening of Art, Music & Science, contact:Michael Jamison, National Parks Conservation Association, 862-6722 Steve Thompson, Glacier Climate Action, 250-9810

Contact info for the scientists, artists and musicians is available by request.

Diane Burko is a painter and photographer based in Philadelphia. Her “Politics of Snow” project draws upon the Glacier repeat photography project and similar projects around the world. She is devoted to using her art to bring attention to the urgent issues of climate change.

Joy von Wolffersdorff is an art professor at California State University Northridge. Although her first love in art is drawing, she uses whatever medium she feels will most effectively express a given concept. She is currently focused on creating gathering places for scientists and artists who are working on climate change.

Craig Hodges directs the Crown of the Continent Choir, volunteers who sing for fun and perform for social justice, environmental stewardship, spiritual fulfillment and community service.

USGS scientists Dan Fagre and Lisa McKeon have created an exhibit, Losing a Legacy: A photographic story of disappearing glaciers, to showcase photographs from their Repeat Photography Project. The collection consists of historic glacier photographs paired with contemporary photographs, a juxtaposition that reveals dramatic reductions in glacier size. Since they began their rephotography efforts in 1997, over 100 photographs of 20 different glaciers have been repeated. Each summer they capture more images to add to their growing collection

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Apr 16 2014

Opportunities available for wilderness work in the Bob

Published by under News

Our friends at the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation are expanding their volunteer opportunities . . .

This summer, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation has expanded its annual offering to 40 “Volunteer Vacation” projects.

The foundation will kick off its season June 7 with a National Trails Day celebration at Stanton Lake.

Volunteer projects of varying difficulty are available through mid-September. Trip offerings include weekend to week-long backcountry trips throughout the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

Read more . . .

See also http://www.bmwf.org/volunteer

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Apr 12 2014

It must be spring: several bears relocated

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Another sure sign of spring in this corner of Montana: Wildlife personnel are busy relocating nuisance bears . . .

As bear activity picks up, wildlife personnel recently had to relocate a grizzly bear from south of Eureka into Glacier National Park.

According to Erik Wenum, a bear and lion specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a 6-year-old 340-pound male grizzly bear was captured on April 6 south of Eureka after killing a calf earlier in the week. USDA Wildlife Services personnel assisted in capturing the grizzly…

Wenum says four black bears were captured in the last week in the Columbia Falls and Whitefish areas. This level of activity indicates that while many bears may still be denned or close to their dens some have dropped to lower elevations in search of foods, according to FWP.

Read more . . .

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Apr 12 2014

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission endorses Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act continues to gain state-level endorsements . . .

Montana fish and wildlife commissioners are endorsing federal legislation to expand protections along the Rocky Mountain Front.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission passed a resolution Thursday supporting the Rocky Mountain Heritage Act.

The bill would add more than 67,000 acres of new wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and grants less-restrictive protections to another 208,000 acres. It also calls for a plan to eradicate noxious weeds in the area.

Read more . . .

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