Learning more: A day in the life of a Glacier mountain goat
What’s a typical day like for a mountain goat living inside Glacier National Park?
A problem has presented itself in Glacier National Park recently because, surprisingly enough, researchers don’t know the answer to that question.
One of the most visible and iconic creatures of Glacier National Park – one that nearly everyone who makes it to the top of Going-to-the-Sun Road sees – is under even more observation these days as researchers try to learn more about the animals.
We told readers about a new study inside Glacier that’s aiming to learn more about goats, and how the increasingly high human presence there is affecting them.
The National Park Service – charged with balancing the delicate interplay between the visitor experience and protecting park resources – launched a Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor study to gather data to design a management plan. In addition to evaluating how to make the shuttle system financially viable, the plan aims to address congestion on the road and trails with an eye to the future. It’s a journey to answer the question of how to manage higher visitation, respond to future impacts and better protect resources.
To get tabs on the human footprint, the study is collecting data on levels of use and time of use on trails, roads and in parking lots.
But one of the big concerns is the increased pressure on wildlife, specifically with the interaction between humans and mountain goats in the Logan Pass area.
If you’ve been to the park this year, you might’ve been stopped by researchers hoping to survey visitors and learn more abou their interactions with wildlife. Researchers are also collaring goats and doing smaller experiments, such as putting predator scat around heavily traveled goat trails to see how the animals react.
It’s a fascinating story about Glacier’s alpine icons and the ENTIRE STORY is online now.
Slideshow: Celebrating Big Sky Country’s summer skies
Once again, our readers and Facebook friends have shared an amazing bunch of photos with us. And what better time than the first week of August to share a few that celebrate the summer skies of Montana?
Here’s a compilation of big sky shots from around the state.
Thanks to Yvonne Moe Resch, Sherry Meyers, John D. Harwood, Natatum Haines, Robin K. Ha’o and Earle Take Photography for the wonderful images.
Find us on Facebook for more.
Take a jaunt down Billings’ Sugar Ave.
There’s a street in Billings called Sugar Avenue, and it ‘s a very appropriately named street. That’s because every winter, more than 1.5 million pounds of sugar is produced at the Western Sugar Cooperative plant.
Contributor Jennifer McKee took us into the refinery in our July/August issue, taking readers through the process of making sugar from Montana-grown sugar beets. It’s quite a process.
The sugar ends up in products across the world, helping to sweeten things you’ve almost definitely eaten (like Wilcoxson’s ice cream or Wheat Montana bread).
But how do you make sugar from a beet? Here’s a quick breakdown of the process:
From seed to sugar
Seed: From mid-April to May, planting season begins for beet farmers on 150 Montana farms from Bridger to Custer
Root: From May through September the seeds begin to grow on the 24,000 acres of Montana farmland into what will become white, two-to five- pound, foot-long sugar beets. Beets contain up to 22 percent sucrose
Sugar beet: In September, harvesting season begins and roughly 1.5 billion of pounds of sugar beets are shipped to “beet dumps” around the state. Beets are then delivered by truck to the Billings refinery
Refining: From September through mid-February, once at the Western Sugar Cooperative refinery, beets are taken through a three hour process to make sugar. The refinery runs nonstop producing sugar
Sugar water: Inside the refinery every day beets are washed in river water, sliced with precision, dropped into a diffuser where steam coaxes out sugar. The resulting sugar water is then pumped into pans that induce crystallization
Crystals: As sugar crystals form, they’re sent through a centrifuge that blasts the last of the water from the sugar
Sugar: The sugar is spun dry and packaged. Every day of operation, the Billings refinery produces 1.5 million pounds of sugar. Sugar is shipped from the refinery to facilities across the world, including to Hershey, Penn.
Survey says Montana home to 2 top national parks
You probably saw this online poll making the social media rounds in the past couple weeks, asking people to vote for the nation’s best national park.
Easy choice right?!? Well there are two easy choices for most Montanans…
I think we can all agree it should’ve been a tie for first, with Glacier and Yellowstone at the top. But it was Maine’s Acadia National Park that took the No. 1 spot.
Still, pretty good showing for MT. And in case this makes you want to go and see the parks, we have a great suggestion on the best way to take in the scenery.
Writer Ednor Therriault wrote a great feature in our July/August issue about the iconic red and yellow buses the operate inside Glacier and Yellowstone. It really is a fun story. And even if you’ve seen the parks, Ednor says you’re missing out if you haven’t seen them in a bus.
Centennial farms and ranches: Celebrating a century of MT stories
“These days, to have a job for 10 years is something of an achievement. To spend an entire lifetime on something is remarkable, and to spend multiple lifetimes in dogged determination is downright admirable.”
That’s what Montana photographer Thomas Lee told our readers to introduce his Portfolio of photos that documented the lives of three Montana centennial ranching families in our July/August issue.
Lee’s Portfolio, “A Century of Stories” introduced readers to three of the 28 Montana families that have been honored by the Montana Historical Society’s Montana Centennial Farm and Ranch program.
You can meet the families Lee highlights and learn more about the program with our interactive map. To see all the photos, pick up our July/August issue.
Slideshow: Bald eagles across Montana
In case you’re in need of a little patriotic boost this Fourth of July Friday, our Facebook friends helped us put together this collection of Montana bald eagles.
As always, they captured some amazing images. Thanks to everyone who shared.
Enjoy and Happy Fourth of July.
Glacier National Park in spotlight of July/August issue
Our fourth issue of 2014 is taking readers into the heart of one of the most special places on earth (at least us Montanans think so): Glacier National Park.
As you can see on our cover, we’ve got some gorgeous and amazing features to share.
Mountain goats, you should know, are under observation in Glacier as park officials continue a three year study to determine how the increased visitor numbers are affecting the goats.
We’ll also show you how, after 100 years, the remaining operating chalets in Glacier are thriving.
And we’ll take you on a ride on the famous Red Jammers inside Glaicer. How does that compare to a ride on the iconic yellow buses in Yellowstone National Park? Read our feature to find out.
Handpicked horses help riders find mobility, independence
Here’s a sweet story out of the Bitterroot Valley for you on a almost-summer Thursday.
The Bitterroot Theraputic Ranch near Corvallis is home to special horses that, as writer Brett Berntsen explains, have a very special duties.
Take Tonah, for example:
Tonah, a Norwegian Fjord, fits the mold perfectly. As a small draft horse, she can carry heavy loads yet isn’t tall, making it easy to mount and dismount. Moreover, she has the calm, patient demeanor necessary for long days in the arena.
. . .
Astride a beige mare named Tonah, Abbie Jessop leads the exercise. Despite being born with cerebral palsy and nearly deaf, the 18-year-old Pinesdale resident rides independently.
She steers the patient mare next to a metal rack holding plastic rings. Reaching up with a shaky hand, she spears a ring and drops it onto a nearby cone like a gaucho in training.
We featured the ranch in our May/June issue with a spread of amazing photos by photography Lido Vizzutti. Grab a copy to see all the photos.
Until then, the full story is online now.