National Geographic catches up with Baucus on the trail


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On one of his many work days Sen. Max Baucus helps out on a low-income housing project on Missoula in August, 2012.
  • On one of his many "work days" Sen. Max Baucus helps out on a low-income housing project on Missoula in August, 2012.
Sen. Max Baucus has worked a lot of odd jobs during his 39 years in office. There was that time he served ice cream at Big Dipper’s Helena store, the afternoon he spent making guns at SI Defense in Kalispell, the day he spent at the Western Sugar Cooperative Refinery and Warehouse in Billings hauling beets from the field and packaging them a warehouse—the list goes on. It’s not that the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is looking for a quick buck, but rather he’s looking to be among his constituents (and, no doubt, the media). According to his website, Baucus does “Work Days” because he understands the value of hard work and wants to gain some perspective from local businesses. As true as that may be, his work days often tie into a piece of legislation the senator is interested in.

His most recent foray into Joe Sixpack’s world put the 71-year-old high in the North Fork of the Flathead building a trail alongside the Montana Conservation Corps. That’s where Douglas H. Chadwick for National Geographic caught up with him. During his lunch break, Baucus took the opportunity to explain to the reporters in tow why the North Fork deserves protection and how the North Fork Watershed Protection Action would do it.

Media outlets from around the state covered the story (one even complained about hiking in loafers). Of all of them, Chadwick's “Old Man and the River: Senator’s Fight for Montana," does best to articulate why Baucus has been such a fervent protector of the Flathead since he was elected in 1974.


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