Coalition works to protect Montana loons
Loons have become a rare sight in Montana recently. The unfortunate truth was noticed by a broad group of Montanans, which is now working to protect and preserve the birds.
Missoulian reporter David Erickson explains:
RAINY LAKE – Most birds’ songs are pleasing to human ears, but the haunting call of the loon – the way it pierces the air as it resonates off a quiet mountain lake’s placid surface – evokes a feeling of wildness like perhaps no other sound on Earth.
Innumerable writers have spilled considerable ink trying to describe it, but there’s no substitute for the real thing.
Unfortunately, people have to get pretty lucky to hear or see the creatures these days in the western U.S.
Loons are fickle, territorial birds, and lakeshore development, motor boats, pollution, lead fishing weights and human disturbance threaten the species’ reproductive rate and habitat.
There are only between 200 and 250 common loons in Montana, including 75 nesting pairs, making them a species of concern.
And even though small, that’s still the largest population of loons in the lower 48 west of Minnesota. There are only one or two known nesting pairs in Idaho, for example.
The birds don’t produce many offspring and they aren’t good at pioneering new territory.
In the Clearwater-Blackfoot watershed of western Montana, there were only four loon chicks hatched this year, although the numbers vary every spring.
That’s why, since 1999, a small army of state wildlife officials, agencies, tribes, businesses, volunteers and interns – collectively known as the Common Loon Working Group – has been working to observe, collect data and protect the species while educating the public about the threats to its long-term survival.
“It’s a massive, statewide, collaborative effort,” said Kristi DuBois, a non-game wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, as she glassed a pair of newly hatched loon chicks with a spotting scope recently at Rainy Lake in the Seeley-Swan Valley. “It takes a village to monitor loons.”
Read the rest of the story and see more photos here.
Show and tell: Our July/Aug. events calendar
It’s prime festival time all across the U.S. In Montana, that means there are more than a few awesome weekends of fun coming up.
Check it out – and if you make it to one or more, send us your photos so we can put them in our Reader Submitted Photo galleries (email jpgs to email@example.com).
Your Big Sky Country events calendar for July and Aug 2015
- Arlee Celebration, Arlee, July 1-5
- Moods of the Madison, Ennis, July 17-18
- Flathead Cherry Festival, Polson, July 18-19
- Evel Knievel Days, Butte, July 23-25
- Red Ants Pants Music Festival, White Sulphur Springs, July 23-26
- Daly Days, Hamilton, July 24-25
- Clark Days, Pompeys Pillar, July 25
- Dino Shindig, Ekalaka, July 25-26
- Crow Fair Celebration, Crow Agency, Aug. 12-17
- Huckleberry Festival 2015, Trout Creek, Aug. 14-16
Have something else to add? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top reader photos: A salute to Montana
They’ve done it once again. Our readers are experts at capturing Montana at its best.
And in this edition of our top reader photos, we’ve got some wonderfully beautiful Montana summertime scenes.
There’s a few sunsets, of course. And some beautiful bloom, too.
Scroll down to enjoy.
It’s movie star season in Montana
Missoulians – especially those at the MADE Fair in downtown Caras Park – were excited by a couple of mega movie star sightings last weekend when Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were spotted shopping at the craft fair and buying coffee at a local shop.
The Missoulian’s David Erickson has the story:
Chase Taylor might be one of the only people in the world who has talked with Leonardo DiCaprio – arguably one of the most famous celebrities on the planet – without having any idea who he was.
Taylor spent Sunday at Caras Park helping his wife Paisley with her baby clothing business, Paisley Designs, at the Missoula MADE Fair, an alternative arts and crafts market featuring local artists.
A bearded man walked by, and Taylor did what any good salesman would do. He called him over to check out the baby clothes.
“My wife was out of the booth breast-feeding our son,” Taylor recalled. “Leo wasn’t interested in buying my wife’s clothes, but I pulled him in and talked to him. I was one of the very few people that got him to go into a booth. He was a very nice guy. It was a very brief conversation, and I gave him my business card and then he left. And then the lady next to me told me who he was. I had no idea.”
The man was DiCaprio, a five-time Academy Award nominee who probably doesn’t enter into many conversations with people who don’t recognize him.
“He looked like a normal Missoulian,” Taylor said. “He fit in very well. It was kind of cool to see someone that famous here on a very hot day.”
Read the rest of the story here.
Preview: Our July/August issue hits mailboxes next week
It’s heeeerreeee: Our summertime issue, that is.
We can’t wait for you to read it. Below are a couple summertime stories you’ll find inside the July/August 9issue. But first, did you like our sneak peek of our amazing cover by photographer Kurt Wilson? It plays well with our main feature, Stages and Skies (see below).
- We’re taking you to the best little music fest in the West
- I can tell you that writer Kelsey Dayton did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, a one-of-a-kind celebration that takes place “in the middle of nowhere,” and at the same time “the middle of everywhere.”
- We’re all about the berries – huckleberries and pick-your-own strawberries that i
- Aaron Theisen takes us to Trout Creek, which is officially (thanks to a legislative designation) the huckleberry capitol of the state. Jessica Lowry went hunting for berries as well, and found a more domesticated, but equally as sweet, set of fruit in her pick-your-own story. Lowry will introduce you to two farms in particular that allow pickers to find and savor the sweetness of summer.
- We’ll introduction you to the longest-running hiking crew inside Glacier National Park
- They don’t pay dues and they don’t follow maps. And their status as hikers inside Glacier is legendary.
- We’ll tell you about a yurt camp with some of the most delicious food west of the Mississippi
- In the fourth installment of our The Last Best Plates series takes us to the American Prairie Reserve where gourmet dinners are served out of yurts.
Ready to read yet? Here’s a couple summertime stories from last year to tide you over.
Step back in time: An old Montana mining camp
It’s never a bad idea to take a moment to step back in time.
Thanks to a dedicated family in western Montana, one of the state’s most complete Depression-era mining camps has been preserved. And, as Missoulian reporter Kim Briggeman reports, they welcome visitors:
CEDAR CREEK – In a way, this remains George Gildersleeve’s Father’s Day gift.
He was in his early 20s in 1924 when George convinced his father, Ike, and Ike’s brothers, Charlie and Lee, to move their mining attentions over the hill from the Trout Creek watershed to the headwaters of Cedar Creek.
Most of a century later, you can search the old gold gulches of Montana and not find anything like the compound the Gildersleeves and the Kansas City Mining Co. built in 1930 and 1931 in Snowshoe Gulch.
A U.S. Forest Service survey in 1995 called it “the most complete Depression-era mining camp remaining in western Montana.”
Today it’s just as intact, just as secluded, and even more secure in its post-mining days as a family-owned complex of rough-hewn cabins, shacks and shops.
George Gildersleeve was 88 in 1991 when he died in the Superior hospital, clinging fiercely to this haven 17 miles up the creek.
“When he was up here, he felt that he was the king on the mountain,” Sue McLees, George’s lone surviving offspring, said. “As far as he was concerned, he owned all this.”
“As far as you could see,” McLees said in unison with her niece, Anna Haskins. They smiled at the memory.
Read the full story and take a photo tour of the camp here.
Hit the road for this beautiful celebration
We’re quickly approaching a summer holiday weekend, and this year the Fourth of July falls on Saturday. Do you have plans?
Care if we make a suggestion?
How about the Arlee Celebration. Take a look:
Wherever you are along the Western Montana corridor this summer, you don’t have to go far to find our one-of-a-kind Road Trip for June.
That’s a good thing, because the Arlee Celebration is something everyone should experience.
The Celebration powwow, including several days of traditional dancing and a host of other events, celebrates its 117th anniversary this year.
- For the full Arlee Celebration schedule, click here.
The Arlee Celebration runs July 1-5 in Arlee. The powwow grounds are located just east of Arlee, roughly 20 miles north of Missoula on Highway 93. Signs from the road will help guide you in.
Last summer, up to 400 dancers participated in the West’s oldest continuous powwow.
It’s a powwow rooted in deep tradition and founded when Indian dances were illegal under Bureau of Indian Affairs rules.
However, according to the Arlee Celebration website, the BIA and Indian police didn’t find it illegal to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Read more here.
We’ve got a ton more summertime stories in our upcoming July/August issue. Want to take a look? Subscribe today!
Northern Lights wow sky watchers across Montana
The Northern Lights made a stunning appearance throughout the western skies earlier this week, including a rare appearance in the southern portions of Montana and down into South Dakota.
Luckily for all of us who slept through the show, a handful of Montana Magazine readers snapped photos and sent them in.
Here are a few for your viewing pleasure: