Tag Archives: Debo Powers

Debo Powers: The Wild Mind of God

Mossy Stream - W. K. Walker
Mossy Stream – W. K. Walker

Debo Powers presented this poem at the “Wild Poems, Wild Stories, Wild Flathead” program held in Missoula on September 13 and in Whitefish on September 15 . . .

The Wild Mind of God

Trying to face the mind of God in a grove of trees,
I pause and listen.
My breath comes hard and ragged.
Sweat soaks my clothes from the long climb.

It is cool here
Sheltered from the glare of the hot western sun.
The wind swooshing through the branches overhead
The sounds of a creek as it runs over the toes of smooth boulders.

This is a cathedral
This cool dark spot
Dripping with moisture
Heavy with decay and new growth.

I fall to my knees in worship
And feel the soft furry moss against my skin
The wetness soaks into my socks
I breathe deeply in this quiet sacred place
Where creatures find refuge from the blistering heat.

I am not alone here.
Everywhere there are spirits.
An old elk who laid down here to die,
Torn and bleeding from the ravages of wolves and long winters.
A baby tanager that fell from a nest
And never rose again to try its wings.
A trout that was scooped out of its cold watery home
By the claws of a patient mountain lion.

We are all here
In this cathedral
On this mountainside
In the wild mind of God.

— Debo Powers

Inspired by the wildlands of the northern Whitefish Range
in the Flathead National Forest

Debo Powers: Is Canadian logging a threat to pristine drainage?

Debo Powers, president of the North Fork Preservation Association, had an excellent op-ed on the Daily Inter Lake yesterday talking about heavy logging in the Canadian Flathead drainage . . .

The North Fork of the Flathead River has long been recognized as an internationally special stream, both in Canada and the United States. As such, the drainage has been managed with unusual care and attention on both sides of the international line.

But recent activity on the British Columbia side of the North Fork Valley should have all of us on alert. Especially those of us who care deeply about clean water, native trout, Glacier Park and Flathead Lake.

Over the past decades, much of the concern over the North Fork of the Flathead has focused on energy and coal development. And rightly so. Mountain-removal coal mining would have had devastating effects on the clean water that pours out of Canada, into Northwest Montana.

Thankfully, we’ve put that concern behind us via international agreements. But now we need similar, international agreements on how the North Fork of the Flathead Valley is going to be logged, particularly north of the border.

Obviously, logging does not have nearly the impact of coal mining. Trees grow back. Timber harvest can be compatible with keeping the North Fork healthy. But it’s compatible only if done correctly, up to modern scientific standards and with full transparency.

Two companies, Canfor and Jemi Fibre, are cutting or plan to cut large swaths of forest in the British Columbia Flathead. It’s worth noting that clearcut logging of such massive scale would simply not be allowed in the United States. In addition, the United States would have much stricter guidelines — such as how heavy equipment is used and requiring buffer zones around streams.

These are not just any streams. The logging is proposed around Foisey and McClatchie Creeks. These are major tributaries of the North Fork. Not only are they the source of clean water that eventually flows into Flathead Lake, they are major spawning tributaries for bull trout migrating out of Flathead Lake.

In particular, Jemi Fibre’s plans to log “Sportsman’s Ridge” are of particular concern. This area produces 30-40 percent of the bull trout in the North Fork. As the name implies, it is rich with wildlife.

On July 17, Sen. Jon Tester wrote Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to broach the subject of watershed management in the North Fork with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sen. Tester wrote, “…proposed logging in the Canadian Flathead near McLatchie and Foisey Creeks [major tributaries to the North Fork] have Montanans and federal agencies very concerned about adverse downstream impacts on water quality and wildlife… Sedimentation from large-scale timber harvest has great potential to negatively affect” the North Fork.

Flathead Trout Unlimited raised the alarm on Canadian logging in the watershed. I am grateful for their vigilance.

Please note that no one is saying the North Fork should be entirely off-limits to logging. There is room for sustainable timber harvest here, and we know logging can be light on the land and even beneficial for some wildlife species. We are simply saying that Canada and Montana should be good neighbors when planning this logging.

Experts from both countries should carefully think out logging plans. Those plans should employ the latest science and the best management practices to protect the wildlife, fish and water we share. After all, those resources move freely over the international border.

The North Fork of the Flathead Valley is a truly special place. Generations of Montanans and Canadians have worked together to keep it that way. Ultimately, the citizens of each nation have the final responsibility to be good stewards, and good neighbors.

I encourage Montana’s entire congressional delegation and Gov. Steve Bullock to speak clearly and respectfully to their Canadian counterparts: Let’s work together to keep the North Fork special, before it’s too late.

Crown of the Continent Conference in Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lake after snow storm
Waterton Lake after snow storm

Debo Powers sent in this report on the recent Crown of the Continent Roundtable. Thanks, Debo! . . .

On September 5-7, three NFPA board members (John Frederick, Annemarie Harrod, and Debo Powers) attended the 5th annual Crown of the Continent (CoC) Conference, which was held in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada this year. The conference began with a snow storm that covered Waterton with more than a foot of snow. When the sun appeared on Thursday morning, the surrounding mountains showed the beauty and majesty of the Crown at its best.   The CoC Conference brings together a diverse group of people who live and work in the Crown on both sides of the Border to connect with each other and discuss issues facing the Crown.

One highlight was the pre-conference Tribal/First Nations Roundtable to discuss perspectives and initiatives on Tribal lands. All of the presenters and speakers were indigenous people, but observers were welcome to listen and learn.

The organizing theme of this conference was “A Balancing Act.” The conference explored how our businesses, cultures, and communities are taking forward-looking actions to balance values in the face of changing economic, demographic, political, and climatic conditions. During the conference, there were numerous presentations and discussions on a variety of topics. Another highlight of the conference was small group discussions on weeds and invasives management, watershed monitoring and management, geotourism, and forest management practices. Doug Chadwick added his insights and humor during the Thursday dinner presentation where he showed pictures from the new publication “Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies.”

Debo Powers: Keep North Fork skies and water clear

Debo Powers has a letter to the editor supporting the North Fork Watershed Protection Act in this weeks’ Hungry Horse News . . .

My home is the North Fork of the Flathead. I have spent many nights staring up at the stars and northern lights, far from the lights of town.

I still enjoy seeing the faces of people who are visiting the North Fork for the first time. They always seem overjoyed to discover a place that is so wild, so natural and so beautiful in this day and age.

For years, the idea of a Canadian coal mine has loomed just upstream. It took decades of neighbor-to-neighbor diplomacy to convince the Canadians to back off this idea, for the sake of the Flathead River, Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake.

Read more . . .