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Mountain High



“Great numbers of Buffalow in every derection. I think 10,000 may be seen in a view.” So journalled Capt. William Clark, two hundred years and one week ago.

If the vision of bison sprawl gets your ardor on, join Celeste River at Salmon Lake State Park’s amphitheater at 8 p.m. July 8 for “Buffalo Plains,” an opportunity to revisit via “photographic imagery and western literature” the Western landscape prior to the landscape-wide shift towards agriculture and suburbia. You can “experience the lost landscape” at this Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) program, so contact Vernon Carroll at 542-5533 or to learn more.

But if you’re more into the mountainous legs of the great explorers’ journey, head to Wendover Ridge near the Lewis and Clark Trail July 10 with the Sierra Club. This adventure will parallel a portion of the corps’ journey through the Bitterroot Range and provide a close-up look at the Wendover Timber Sale, a showcase example of how the “Healthy Forest Initiative” is helping prevent America’s forests from growing too old. Bring weather-appropriate clothing and footwear, as well as food and water for a six-mile hike. Meet at Bernice’s Bakery at 9:00 a.m. to carpool, or contact Cameron at 542-7343 or to posse up.

And despite what we hear from certain land managers in certain national forests in Western Montana, it is possible to protect communities from wildfire and manage a woodland ecosystem without cutting old-growth trees. In remote forests. Far from homes. On holiday mornings. At taxpayer expense.

If you’re interested in being a part of a successful, ecologically based fuel-reduction project, get off the couch and join a handful of local conservation groups as they head to Ovando July 11 through 14 on a small pilot project. Volunteers will cut and haul brush and small-diameter trees while camping at or near the site, and pre-registration is required, so get ready to get ‘er done by emailing or calling 542-7343.

Join Wildlands CPR! and you can “Do good while you’re out in the woods!” Many of the ubiquitous roads laced throughout the Clearwater NF have been decommissioned and revegetated, and volunteers are needed throughout the summer to monitor roads already gone as well as roads slated for removal. Focusing on the tributaries of the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River, you’ll be trained in the intricacies of “pebble counts, macroinvertebrate surveys [and] wildlife tracking.” To sign up or learn more contact Katherine Court at or 406-542-8510.

Missoula Parks and Rec continues its series of “RAD” summer camps for kiddies age 8 through 16, with an emphasis on “recreation, adventure and diversity.” From July 11 to Aug. 3, Parks and Rec is providing numerous opportunities to learn international games, swimming, art, gardening, environmental education, climbing and outdoor skills. Stop by 100 Hickory St., call 721-PARK or visit for more details.

Big Mountain is offering “Summit Fridays,” a weekly opportunity to score a free gondola ride to the top as well as music from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Summit House through Sept. 2. Food and bar service will be offered, and primo sunsets can be expected. Log on to for the complete scoop, and keep in mind that at least one long-time local told me: “This is the first free thing the Big has ever given away that I can remember, [and] cocoa cards for dangling on the chair don’t count.”

Montana’s butterflies are flitting about in mad numbers these days, and if you’d like to get yourself dialed on Montana’s lepidoptera, join the Montana Natural History Center’s butterfly expert Will Kerling at 10 a.m. July 9 for a “Butterfly Safari.” Starting with a slideshow, participants will then head into the field to track local species, so bring outdoor-ready clothing, snacks and water. Call 327-0405 or log on to for more.

Join the Sierra Club and Friends of the Bitterroot for a day hike to the 8,998’ Kent Peak in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area July 9 and you’ll score “incredible views of the Bitterroot Range, the Rock Creek wildlands and the Anaconda Pintlars.” Participants will also be documenting what sorts of recreationalists are using trail #313 and the impacts they have on this 10-mile, moderately strenuous loop trail. Larry Campbell will be leading this trip; learn more at 549-1142 or

UM’s Wilderness Institute is heading into the Welcome Creek and Anaconda Pintler Wilderness for trips through late August, and they’d like you to come along as they monitor the impacts of weeds and recreation. Experienced leaders will rally for two- to five-day trips, so no experience is necessary for tagalongs. Dates are flexible and transportation and dinners are provided, so sign up at 243-5361 or

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