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Mountain High



The Blackfoot River is getting well used by folks escaping an overheating Missoula these days, and the massive load of floaters and fisher(wo)men wallowing in the shallow, warm water are giving our resident trout populations a helluva workout.

Thus, the Blackfoot Drought Response Committee and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are asking anglers to take it easy on the slippery denizens of the deep by voluntarily limiting fishing on the Blackfoot and its tributaries until conditions improve. But if you hook ‘em, drag ‘em through the water by their lip and release ‘em only in the morning when it’s cooler, you’ll be giving them a much-needed break.

Typically, Montana’s rivers begin their seasonal cooling process by the end of the month, allowing for less stressful conditions for fish yanked out of their preferred medium and held up for requisite photos.

In related news, part of the Milltown Reservoir cleanup will include the removal of the Stimson Lumber Dam just a short distance up the Blackfoot from the Milltown Dam. This historical remnant is slated to be removed this year (before its Milltown counterpart), and will in effect open up 1,900 miles of watershed to river critters. While this is of course good news for fish, it’s also good news for us. Tubers and boaters will—upon the subsequent removal of the Milltown Dam—soon have a free-flowing passage linking the Blackfoot to Missoula as part of a national program to remove 91 fish-passage barriers this year alone. Whoo-hoo!

The Ninemile Ranger District will lead a public field trip to share the benefits of its proposed Frenchtown Face Ecosystem Restoration Project on August 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Deliver yourself to the Historic Ninemile Ranger Station, where federal carpools will explore a maze of road improvements, decommissioning proposals and “vegetative treatments.” Keep in mind that this “restoration” project will include the removal of nearly 4,000 logging trucks worth of the public’s trees, so call the station to reserve a spot at 626-5201. Leave your name and number, and don’t forget snacks, water and appropriate clothing.

Lois Crepeau (728-5321) is leading a Rocky Mountaineer trip to Heart Lake near Lincoln, an excellent watering hole for anglers and swimmers alike. Count on a 10-mile jaunt, and bring a lunch, suitable clothing and a fishing rod if you’d like. Meet at the Old Chamber of Commerce building at 8 a.m. on August 14 to join the posse.

The Grizzly Triathlon, held every spring at the University of Montana, draws its name from a University mascot. Don’t confuse this with the Grizzly Marathon, a burly marathon and half-marathon named after our state’s true national champion, the grizzly bear. This August 21 run takes place in the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone along the Rocky Mountain Front, which, by the way, is also endangered. Runners will have the opportunity to see the full cornucopia of Montana’s large critter population, like bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and, yes, grizzly bears. Log on to to register.

Meanwhile, the Annual Garden City Triathlon is a 1.5K swim followed by a 40K bike ride followed by a 10K run at Frenchtown State Park. For those looking to get the kiddies involved in this kind of abuse early on, be aware that there’s a short “Kid’s Triathlon” following the 8 a.m. big kid’s race. Call Mile Key beforehand (no race-day registration!) at 542-9401 or log on to to get in the game.

Or escape to the Hi-Country in Lincoln for a 10K, 5K, 1-mile or trifecta of races on August 21 on a trail-and-dirt-road route through some majestic Montana scenery. There’s a pre-race spaghetti feed too, so call Melanie (362-3067) for applications and info.

Recreation, wildlife and neighborhood experts have been drafting a plan for an 8.5-acre Children’s Fish Pond Park at 34th and Bancroft Streets, and they want your comments. Meet at the 34th St. entrance on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. to chip in your two bits on the plan (viewable at Contact David Claman (258-4762) if you’ve got questions, then be sure to e-mail your comments before Sept. 17.

The annual—and notorious—Jedzilla Mountain Bike Race Series begins with a downhill race on August 21, and proceeds benefit the newly formed Montana Junior Cycling Foundation. Not one for wusses, the course runs down 3,000 vertical feet of singletrack, known to some as “The sickest downhill course in the Northwest.” Catch the shuttle at 2 p.m. for a 4:30 race start, but save your legs for the next day’s (August 22) cross-country challenge, a six-mile loop with 1,000 feet of climbing/descending. Registration is at 8 a.m., the race at 9 a.m., and it all takes place at the Blue Mountain Recreation Area horse parking lot. Contact the Jedzilla himself at 531-1216 or for more beta.

And whatever you’re doing outside, keep in mind that the Lolo National Forest is calling the fire danger “very high,” with more than 175 fires reported already in Western Montana this year. Do your part to keep that number from growing, and call Steve Zachry (329-1039) for more fire info.

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