This is pretty interesting. The “Crown of the Continent” just expanded a bit, due principally to the efforts of Rick Graetz and some of his students. Many of you will remember Rick for bringing one of his geography classes through the North Fork on an annual basis . . .
The Crown has embraced the wildest and largest intact ecosystem in Alberta and the United States, running from the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, since its unofficial inception in the early 1900s. But to Rick Graetz, a University of Montana geography department lecturer and longtime outdoor enthusiast, the lines drawn on the map didn’t take into account what he was seeing on the ground south of Highway 200.
So in 2014, he enlisted the aid of graduate geography students to truth-check his theory. And this week, now that Verena Henner’s mapping project, Katie Shank’s study on biological diversity and wildlife corridors, and Josh Hoerner’s look at topographical maps and GPS readings are finished, Graetz announced their findings.
Every year, Rick and Suzie Graetz of the University of Montana bring the Polebridge Field Course to the North Fork. For the “field” part, the class spends five days up here, learning about the landscape, the species that live on it (including humans), its geology and history. At the end of the first full day, there is a presentation at Sondreson Community Hall that includes a lot of spectacular photos and considerable interaction between students and locals.
Here’s Lois Walker’s report on the event, lightly edited…
The Graetz’s gave another splendid presentation last Monday, January 16. It was the best yet, I believe. Suzie presented a 10-year retrospective slideshow, with photos from all their classes — lots of familiar faces and locations. Rick’s show featured breathtaking photos from around the Crown of the Continent. They had a reporter and a photographer from the Missoulian in tow, as well as Dr. Hal Stearns, a Montana historian, retired brigadier general from the Montana National Guard and husband of the current University of Montana president, who gave a rousing introduction. I believe there were 18 class members, plus a few associate students, plus the staff. The locals in attendance brought the total up to around 50. And of course Oliver Meister was present as the gracious host. There was a huge decorated chocolate cake in honor of the 10th anniversary. Another very nice evening on the North Fork.
Note: There were actually four speakers. Lois forgot to mention that she gave a brief overview of North Fork history on very short notice near the beginning of the program.
For the past ten years, Rick and Suzie Graetz of the University of Montana have brought a group of geography students to the Polebridge area for their Field Course.
While they are here, they dedicate one evening to giving a public lecture at Sondreson Hall. If for no other reason, it is worth attending just for the photos of spectacular landscapes, often from far-flung regions of the globe.
This year’s presentation will be at Sondreson Hall on January 16 at 6:30pm.
Here’s the text of Suzie’s announcement . . .
Happy New Year to all of our friends in the North Fork!
There is something about the holidays that makes me sit back and count my blessings.
Yesterday, while I was putting away the trappings of Christmas at the same time I was hauling out and checking off the gear we need to pack for our Polebridge Field Course, it dawned on me that this will be our 10th year of bringing students for a week to the amazing landscape you all are lucky to call home.
The course of study is wide-ranging and a great amount of information is crammed into our short stay… we expose the students to twice daily lectures by experts on fire, wildlife, national and state land management, geography, history, and geology (to name a few subjects), they have pre-trip reading assignments, research projects to complete, lecture notes to turn in, daily snowshoe treks into the landscape they are studying, and as always a final test. But, I feel it is meeting you, the members of this valley that has made the biggest impression on them.
Here’s a heads-up from NFLA President Randy Kenyon . . .
Grab your calendars! Author, professor, traveler, photographer and raconteur Rick Graetz will be returning again this winter to the North Fork with his University of Montana class. The highlight of this year’s visit will be his presentation at Sondreson Hall Monday January 18th at 6:30pm. Rick’s topic will be portraits of Great Landscapes, including the Himalaya, deserts of the American West, Yellowstone, prairie lands of Montana east of the mountains and a few other selected areas. If you haven’t ever had the privilege to partake of this experience, be sure you make this one. His appearances are always highly informative and entertaining. Rick will be bringing a celebration cake and, if you are so inclined, bring along a treat of your own!