The Yellowstone supervolcano’s seismic threat
The supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park was in the news quite a bit last spring. New findings coupled with a string of small earthquakes fueled some wild rumors of its impending explosion.
But what really is the risk?
Writer Jack Ballard explored that question in our feature in the Sept/Oct issue. Scientists inside the park of been studying the volcano for decades. And, as Jack found out, better technology means better knowledge about the beast.
They say it’s unlikely the volcano will erupt anytime. More likely: Earthquakes.
In a 2009 paper in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Smith and a team researchers concluded that the Yellowstone-Teton region represents the area of greatest seismic hazard in the western United States. The project also analyzed earthquake risk in relation to the various fault lines radiating from the caldera of Yellowstone’s most recent, albeit very ancient, super-volcano. Of those, the team concluded major quake activity was most likely to occur on the Teton Fault which extends from the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park into the Jackson Hole Valley in Wyoming.
The USGS has a ton of information about the likelihood of any major disaster caused by the supervolcano. The Q&A is particularly interesting.
Like Jack found out from the scientists who know the supervolcano best, it’s likely that the more you know, the less you’ll have to fear.
Slideshow: The best views in Montana
What’s your favorite Montana view?
Our latest slideshow is the result of our most recent fan Facebook question, which our friends answered with both stories and photos of their favorite Big Sky views.
Included are views of the Beartooths and Pintlers and Missoula from the “M” trail.
A few other nominations from our Facebook friends: The first glimpse of the Sweet Grass Hills over the never-ending fields between Conrad and Shelby. Top of Polson Hill heading north on Highway 93.
So, what’s your favorite? Let us know on Facebook at fb.com/montanamagazine. Or send us your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dance of the Glacier County Honey bees
The folks at Glacier County Honey, as you might imagine, know a lot about bees.
Afterall, the bees make the business. Our feature on the up-and-coming business that is flourishing near the northern Montana town of Babb showed just how much knowledge it takes to keep happy bees that produce their sweet honey.
The bees are transported from Montana to California and back again each year to ensure they’re happy.
When it comes time to make honey, millions of bees buzz through fields in Babb collecting pollen to bring back to the hives. In fact, when they find a good source, worker bees do a dance to show other workers where to find it.
Read the full story in our Sept/Oct issue.
In the meantime, here’s a little more about the Glacier County Honey bees (including more about the dance of the honey bees) courtesy of owners Courtney and Greg Fullerton.
What kind of bees do you keep at Glacier County Honey?
What is the lifespan of a bee?
Lifespan of a bee depends on the time of year – in summer, they’re working so hard some literally fly their wings off, and can expect to live about 3 weeks. But once the queen shuts down production in preparation for winter, they’ll live through the winter.
How many bees help make Glacier County Honey?
In the summer months, about 90 million bees at any given time help make Glacier County (and Chief Mountain) honey.
What is your favorite fact about bees that many people don’t know?
Bees communicate with each other by dancing.
There are lots of different types of dances, but our favorite is the Waggle Dance – when a worker bee finds a good nectar source, like a field of alfalfa, she comes back to the hive and does a dance, using the sun as a compass, and tells the other bees where to find this nectar. All worker bees are female. The males are really only around for mating purposes, they don’t even have a stinger, and when they become a burden to the hive – in the winter – the workers kick them out of the hive to die.
Also, bees don’t gather honey, bees make honey. They bring nectar back to the hive in a special honey stomach (they also bring back pollen in “chaps” or pockets on their legs) and they add some special enzymes and fan the nectar down to make honey in the honeycomb that they build in their hive (they have wax secreting glands on their backs).
Bees make honey to eat honey (that’s what they live on), but given the right amount of space and forage and weather, they’ll make more than they could ever need to survive, hence, the possibility of commercial beekeeping.
Rescued mountain lion brothers headed to Ohio
Powell, Ohio, is preparing to welcome two Montana natives to its zoo.
Two rescued mountain lion kittens that were pulled from a wildfire zone several weeks ago are set to be delivered to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials say it’s the best option for the brothers, according to a story by the Helena Independent Record’s Alexander Deedy.
Just 12 to 14 days old when they arrived at the Montana Wildlife Center in Helena, the pair didn’t have any teeth and couldn’t really use their eyes. Now four weeks old, they’ve doubled in size and are starting to exhibit predator traits.
Rhodin said they’ve started to pounce, and one will drag around a blanket he plays with.
Besides inhaling smoke and having water and fire retardant dropped on them, the kittens did not suffer any physical harm during the fire, she said.
The kittens now have clear lungs, bright blue eyes and are perfectly healthy. Rhodin has been feeding them a formula similar to milk from a mother mountain lion.
Throughout the process, FWP has been fielding interest from zoos accredited by the American Zoos Association that wanted to provide a home for the cats.
“If you try to release them before they’re 3 years old, they probably won’t survive,” Rhodin said.
The leading cause of mortality among young mountain lions is getting killed by older males, so without a mother, the two kittens would have no chance of survival in the wild.
Wildland firefighters battling a blaze near Florence rescued the kittens after hearing their cries from underneath a log. The blackened kittens were taken to a rehabilitation center in Helena where they recovered.
Deedy wrote: Once in Ohio, the kittens will be kept together while young, but Rhodin said it is up to the zoo whether to put them in separate exhibits when they are older. She did say she thinks the Columbus Zoo has plans to use the mountain lions as part of its conservation education program.
“There’s really no better place for them to end up,” Tom Palmer said.
Hay! This is awesome: The Montana Bale Trail slideshow
The hay in central Montana got a makeover last weekend during the annual Montana Bale Trail What the Hay contest. Teams from Hobson to Utica to Windham to Great Falls to Lewistown put their hay sculpting skills to work to create the works of art that were displayed along the highway.
And, hay, it was amazing.
Our art director Megan Richter spent some time in her hometown of Lewistown last weekend and got out on the hay trail to check out What the Hay.
Ivory ban means Glasgow celebration will be without bagpipers
The Glasgow Scotties won’t have bagpipes at their homecoming celebration this year. The Canadian musicians who usually play the Glasgow Homecoming Weekend Festival are too worried their instruments will be confiscated by border patrol officials.
Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey’s story says that a U.S. ban on imported ivory – which is included on the tips of some bagpipes – means the instruments can’t cross the border.
That means the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums are staying home this year.
The band’s concern stems from U.S. border agents seizing bagpipes from two New Hampshire teenagers earlier this summer as they attempted to return home from a music competition in Canada. The United States has an import ban on ivory harvested after 1976, which is supposed to target poachers. People who cannot prove the age of their ivory also risk having it taken away.
According to Lutey’s story, the missing musicians will mean more than music is missing from the festival.
The Saskatoon Police Pipe and Drums didn’t just bang out a couple tunes, they brought the party. From Friday through Saturday, the group performed at the homecoming parade and the tailgate of the Glasgow Scotties football game. They played at three retirement homes and various businesses. And they went from bar to bar, banging on the drums, droning on the pipes and dancing their kilts off.
Bar patrons would run ahead from performance to performance trying to get a good seat for the next show, Olk said. No area band has shown the stamina for so many performances in Glasgow.
Off the hook for the Sept. 12 weekend celebration, the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums leader Ken Morton was elk hunting and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Fellow Canadian bagpiper Iain MacDonald said it has become increasingly difficult for pipe and drum bands to perform in the United States. MacDonald’s Regina Pipe Band used to play in Glendive.
Read more here.
Former Grizzly football standout featured on Tonight Show bit
Former Montana Grizzly standout Brock Coyle made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Thursday night. Well, kind of.
Fallon teased Coyle during his Tonight Show Superlatives: 2014 NFL Season bit with a witty eyebrow joke.
Coyle, who is making Montana proud as a Seattle Seahawk , is from Bozeman. No word on what Coyle thought about Fallon’s bit, but he has to be feeling OK after the Seahawks beat the Packers 36-16 Thursday night.
Always cool to see Montana kids doing great things.
The bit aired as Montanans are getting ready for the opening home games for both the Grizzlies and the MSU Bobcats. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm, too. Shaping up to be a stellar Montana weekend.
Did I mention we have all our new preview content up from the recently printed Sept/Oct issue? Check it out!
In the Name of Nature: 3.5 million acres of wild
It was 50 years ago today that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law.
Today, Montana has almost 3.5 million acres of land inside 16 designated Wilderness areas protected by the Act.
Our longtime contributors Gordon and Cathie Sullivan have traveled the state extensively to experience and photograph much of the land preserved by the Wilderness Act.
In our Sept/Oct Portfolio, the Sullivans take use behind-the-scenes of the tireless work of one Montanan who helped get the legislation passed.
Sen. Lee Metcalf, a Stevensville native, is the namesake for the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Valley.
Raised among friends and neighbors who for generations forged a livelihood from the natural landscape, by way of agriculture, logging and mining, Metcalf grew to appreciate both the bounty nature brings to families and the fragile character and rareness of wild places around him.
The essay about Metcalf’s work to help pass the Wilderness Act, “In the Name of Nature,” by Gordon, really is beautiful. As are the images the Sullivans took of the refuge for our Portfolio. The full essay is online now. You’ll have to pick up a hard copy of Montana Magazine to see all the stunning images.