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f a l l 2 0 11 i s s u e 6




fall 2011 issue 6


PERRY BROWN Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs


Connecting critical habitat along Highway 3

4 DAN DWYER Forward

5 MISSION STATEMENT Why Crown of the Continent is taught at the University of



Executive Vice President

Advocates push for Glacier’s neighbor, Akamina-Kishinena, to be added as an international peace park


Vice President for Research & Development



Jack Potter, Glacier Park’s conscience, retires

Dean, College of Arts & Sciences


The lonsome life at Kishenehn Ranger Station, 1910-1940


Initiative Co-Director, Geography Faculty


Explore historic Waterton, this issue’s “Town in the Crown”


Initiative Co-Director, Professor and Dean Evmeritus, College of Arts and Sciences




Crown Roundtable discusses integration of culture, community and conservation

Art Director, School of Journalism faculty

The beauty of a burned forest


2020: Building a university for the global century


Print Designer, Journalism student


• Crossing the Crown: Marias Pass • The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act


Editorial Consultant, International Programs

STEVEN GNAM 6 A photographer’s view of the Crown

FOREWORD with Vice President for Research and Development

It is my pleasure to welcome readers to this sixth issue of the University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent E-Magazine. As VicePresident for Research and Development at UM for the past decade, it has been exciting to watch this Crown Initiative and its Electronic Magazine grow and mature over the past several years. Since the main campuses of the University of Montana are located in Missoula, just at the southern edge of the Crown ecosystem, it seemed very appropriate to me from the beginning that the University focus some of its efforts –in research, but also in education and outreach—on this unique and diverse part of the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, the University has two very important research centers and facilities situated in the Crown itself—the Flathead Lake Biological Station and the Lubrecht Forest Experiment Station. Both of these research and education centers, of course, have provided students marvelous educational opportunities and researchers and scholars very important field opportunities for decades. And their work has resulted in many research findings that have yielded significant insights into how parts of this and other ecosystems function and how to better manage them in order to preserve them. What this relatively new UM Crown Initiative has offered, among other things, is the opportunity to foster greater collaboration among the programs and researchers on our campuses and far beyond them, as well as a means, through the E-Magazine, to make all of these Crown-based educational opportunities and research activities and findings much better known both to members of the greater UM community and to the general public beyond Missoula and even Montana. Many of the comments received from readers of earlier issues include such words as: “I didn’t know that…” or “I was surprised and happy to learn that…” These have been followed by references to articles on scientific research, such as some about climate change; to pieces about the history of Glacier National Park; to reviews of recent and important


Dan Dwyer

books about some aspect of the Crown, its natural history or its challenges from fire, floods, or political changes; or important pieces about work being carried out by some of the Initiative’s and the University’s many collaborating partners throughout the region. In this way, the UM Crown E-Magazine has attempted, and, in my mind, succeeded remarkably, in making a wide range of important information about the Crown accessible and available to anyone who has a computer and internet access. And it now has readers from around the world. As this particular issue (#6) illustrates, the UM Crown Initiative and its E-Magazine are, as so many important things that involve the University, its students, faculty, and staff, collaborative efforts that involve people, institutions, and organizations far beyond the main campus. As with all such efforts, the University is very grateful for what those partners and collaborators bring to us as we work to fulfill our mission as a public university. Without the collaboration of individual photographers, scientists both on and off campus, of partners like The Missoulian newspaper or the Miistakis Institute in Calgary, the magazine would be much less exciting, much less informative, much less inspiring. As an avid fisherman, I spend as much time as I can outdoors in Montana and the region, much of it in rivers and streams near or in the Crown. I get to know those places in intimate ways, to be sure, but they also have made me want to know more about how those places link to the rest, what their history is all about, how they have been preserved despite all the threats they have faced, what kinds of research are being carried out in the region, and the ways in which we continue to face wisely the challenges and changes they face. The UM Crown of the Continent EMagazine is a great place to learn about all of that. I hope that you will enjoy this issue and the previous issues as much as I have and that you continue to find inspiration and important information in these pages.




COLLABORATION FOR CONSERVATION No place in America has experienced as much cooperation and grass roots work for conservation as the Crown. We document the work being done in various landscapes from the beginning and describe how so much accomplishment is possible when all participants are heard.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Creating conservation projects that preserve traditional uses of Crown landscapes has shown we can devise economic activities that are in harmony with the ecosystem. We study the results of current successes and initiate discussions on new possibilities.

CLIMATE CHANGE The Crown, especially in Glacier National Park, is perhaps the most expansive outdoor laboratory in the nation to study the many facets of an alteration in our long-term climate. Through the knowledge of what is occurring, we can determine ways in which to live with it, adapt to it, benefit from it, and pass on the results and ideas to folks working in other landscapes.

URBAN WILDLAND INTERFACE CONFLICTS Several areas of the Crown exhibit examples of this issue and present opportunities to create workable solutions.

INDIGENOUS CULTURES No place in North America experienced so much interaction among the Indian nations. The Crown allows us a chance to understand the history behind the culture of the many native peoples who populate several areas of this ecosystem.

RESEARCH Studies that are at once interesting and of value to academia as well as the public are made known through the publishing efforts of the UM Crown Initiative.




of the

Lightening storm, Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park.



ABOVE: Northern Pygmy Owl near the Flathead River. LEFT: Crescent moon among dead Whitebark Pine. FAR LEFT: Photographer Steven Gnam said of his own photo, “One of my favorite grizzly shots. Although grizzlies occupy so many kinds of habitat, I like to think of them as being in the rugged mountains, like this.�



TOP LEFT: “the dancer” TOP RIGHT: View of approaching storm from a high peak in the Crown. BOTTOM LEFT: Muley joy. BOTTOM RIGHT: Mountain goat kid scratching its ear on mom.



TOP: Double rainbow and summer storm. BOTTOM LEFT: First snow of the autumn, almost time to den for this griz. BOTTOM CENTER: Bald eagle along the North Fork of the Flathead. BOTTOM RIGHT: Mountain Goat navigating steep terrain.







teven Gabriel Gnam has been photographing wildlife, landscapes, and people in adventure across the western United States and Canada for the past 12 years. Most of

his work focuses on the wildlands of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. Steven lives with his wife Alyson in the Pacific Northwest. He is currently working in the Crown of

the Continent to ensure it remains wild and beautiful for generations to come. To see more of his work visit:

TOP LEFT: A Yellowheaded Blackbird in a Swan Valley wetland. TOP RIGHT: Steven Gnam photographing in British Columbia. BOTTOM RIGHT: Wildflowers along the Rocky Mountain Front. BOTTOM LEFT: Arrowleaf Balsamroot on the Flathead Indian Reservation.



AKAMINAKISHINENA Advocates push for Glacier’s neighbor to be added to

international peace park story and photos by ROB CHANEY A single mud puddle sums up the wonder and weirdness of this

place. Barely two miles over the hump from Waterton National Park’s busy Cameron Lake Road, a soggy spot in the trail bore the prints of a grizzly bear, an all-terrain vehicle, a wolf, hiking boots and a bicycle wheel. Elk scat lay nearby in the grass. So did a horseshoe.


ritish Columbia’s bit of the border above Glacier National Park defies easy understanding. While it shares the same chain of spectacular mountains as the International Peace Park, it has been a Canadian provincial park just 16 years. While Glacier and Waterton have extensive staffs of rangers and concessionaires, the AkaminaKishinena park headquarters is an unoccupied 12-by-20-foot cabin. “We haven’t had staff permanently on site for about four years,” said Alex Green of the British Columbia


Parks Department. “The area receives quite a bit of use, but it disappears in the background of Waterton.” That background vibrates with change. U.S. and Canadian leaders announced plans to protect the Flathead River Basin from mining and energy development last year, but the details remain unfinished. Waterton and Glacier just celebrated their centennial birthdays, but calls to boost AkaminaRIGHT: A 700-foot-tall nunatuk remains where an ice-age glacier split as it carved a major valley in British Columbia’s Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park.


The British Columbia Flathead is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth for biodiversity. It’s a dream worth pursuing.

Harvey Locke, senior adviser to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society


Rob Chaney has reported news in Montana for 23 years, serving at the Hungry Horse News, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Montana Magazine and currently the Missoulian. Chaney earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. He was a fellow at Columbia University Teacher’s College for work on Montana’s Tribal History Project, and last year received a University of Montana Matthew Hansen Endowment fellowship for coverage of Superfund restoration of the upper Clark Fork River drainage. He currently covers outdoors, environment and science issues for the Missoulian in Missoula, Montana.

BELOW: Stalks of Devonian coral roughly 400 million years old snake through a chunk of rock found in the North Kintla Creek Valley in Akamina-Kishenina Provincal Park. The same basin also contains billionyear-old stromatolite fossils, among the oldest life forms on the planet.

Kishinena to federal status went unfulfilled. “We continue to pursue the dream of Kootenay Brown (Waterton’s first superintendent) 100 years ago to put the missing piece of the Peace Park in place,” said Harvey Locke, former president and now senior adviser to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. “The British Columbia Flathead is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth for biodiversity. It’s an essential part of the long-term future of Glacier and Waterton parks. It’s a dream worth pursuing.” This 27,000-acre park runs from the Alberta border west above Glacier Park’s Upper and Lower Kintla Lakes, with a big cherry-stem of provincial national forest poking into its middle. The corridor includes old logging roads where some motorized travel is allowed, although it’s prohibited in the provincial park. Big-game hunters regularly use the area, and do much of the trail maintenance into remote camps. “There’s not much of a question if that should be a part of the Peace Park and World Heritage site,” said Casey Brennan of the Canadian conservation group Wildsight. “Making it a national park would get at least a half-dozen park rangers in there, plus education and interpretation for the schools. And there’d be science, more than the once-a-year fly-over that provincial ministry officials make to be sure there’s still goats in there.” It’s not because of a combination of Canadian historical development and contemporary land management issues. Both those things could be changing. First the Canadian history. In the 19th century, what’s now Alberta was part of the Northwest Territories, owned by the federal government. British Columbia was a separate province that joined the Canadian federation in 1870. So while the Canadian central government could designate Waterton as a national park after creating Alberta in 1905, British Columbia retained provincial control over virtually all its public land. And British Columbia’s southeastern corner has rich underground wealth. The Elk River drainage north of Eureka supports major coal mines. The Flathead River drainage just to the east (which forms Akamina-Kishinena’s western border) has shown equal promise. Locke recalled major efforts to expand Waterton when American and Canadian

ABOVE: Michael Jamison of National Parks Conservation Association looks through Grizzly Wide Pass into the North Kintla Creek Valley of Akamina-Kishenina Provincial Park in British Columbia.

Rotary Clubs pushed for the International Peace Park designation in 1934, in the 1970s when nature writer Andy Russell led a campaign, and again in the 1990s when former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien proposed expanding the country’s national park system. It was only in that last push that British Columbia decided to make Akamina-Kishinena a provincial park in 1995, Locke said. And in doing so, it created a boomerang-shaped space with all its low-elevation timberland excluded from protection. Much of the Elk River area was a British Columbia wildlife refuge until 10 years ago, when British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell ordered it changed to

a mining zone. The Akamina-Kishinena was simply provincial forest. In 2010, Campbell reversed course and signed a similar order making the Flathead off limits to mining and energy exploration. The deal was part of a memorandum of understanding with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, backed by the state’s senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester. That’s put new wind in the sails of park supporters. But the memorandum of understanding remains unfunded on the American side and unlegislated on the Canadian side. Baucus has a bill moving through the Senate to buy out the mining interests, but the British Columbia Parliament hasn’t yet produced a measure to make Campbell’s order

permanent.”It’s written in pencil,” said National Parks Conservation Association Crown of the Continent program manager Michael Jamison. “We’d like to see it written in pen.” Two of Akamina-Kishinena’s features do draw regular attention. Forum and Wall lakes lie just across the British Columbia border of Akamina Pass. They rival Glacier Park’s Avalanche Lake for accessibility and beauty. Beyond there, park visitors are on their own. The park’s webpage warns it is a “wilderness area, without supplies or equipment of any kind. All arrangements for supplies and transportation must be made beforehand.” See next page


“I don’t think four Americans have ever done this,” said Will Hammerquist as he led the way through a cliff notch between the Starvation Creek and North Kintla Creek drainages. “Hardly any Canadians ever get here.” Below was a U-shaped valley punctuated by a 700-foot-tall nunatuk - a Devil’s Tower-like pillar that defied the glacier that carved the rest of the drainage. Fossil algae swirls called stromatolites, 1.5 billion years old, littered the basin. The trunk of a dead whitebark pine tree 36 feet around had a chunk of stromatolite tangled in its roots. Hammerquist peeked over the valley’s southern lip, searching for the concrete obelisk signifying the U.S.-Canadian border. While he could see Glacier’s Upper Kintla Lake 3,000 feet below, the fourfoot-high marker was buried in snow. For Hammerquist, Akamina-Kishinena’s provincial status causes both social and environmental problems. Compared to Waterton, it has virtually no personnel to explain its wonders, enforce its rules or explore its scientific treasures. That results in little control of the noxious weeds visitors track in, a hunting zone shoehorned between two high-protection wildlife parks, and a stalled effort to unify the whole area as a world heritage site. “The whole notion of combining Waterton and Akamina has the weight of history behind it,” Hammerquist said. “It’s been there for 100 years. It’s not some idea we just came up with.” In 2009, a Canadian opinion poll found 77 percent of the East Kootenay (including Cranbrook, Fernie and Sparwood) residents supported creating wildlife sanctuaries in southeastern B.C., where hunting and mining would be prohibited. But the 2010 international agreement on the Flathead specifically included hunting and trapping as permitted uses. “It has global significance,” said Sarah Cox, spokeswoman for Sierra Club B.C., which advocates protecting a 100,000-acre swath of southeast British Columbia, including the AkaminaKishinena. “It’s the largest, longest wildlife corridor left in North America. “The Akamina is only a few hundred meters wide in some places,” Cox said. “You can hunt a grizzly there. A bear that’s fully protected in Waterton and Glacier can step across the border and be shot in B.C.”

An unnamed massif on the border of Montana’s Glacier National Park and British Columbia’s Akamina-Kishenina Provincial Park dominates the North Kintla Creek Valley. The provincial park has no permanent staff and few developed visitor facilities.

Published by permission from the Missoulian




photo courtesy Dave Hadden Members of the Flathead Wild team on Mt. Hefty in the Whitefish Range.


By DAVE HADDEN The following piece, reprinted in a slightly edited form, was recently written by Dave Hadden, Director of Headwaters Montana upon the retirement of Jack Potter from Glacier National Park. Everyone who has worked with Jack over the past four decades, including those of us involved with the UM Crown of the Continent Initiative, have found a great friend and collaborator in him, and have relied heavily on his experience, insights, vast knowledge, and wisdom about all things related to GNP and beyond in the Crown. And even though he is now officially retired, and will have more personal time to pursue some additional interests, we continue to rely on him and look forward to continuing to work with him for many years to come. And thanks to Dave Hadden for allowing us to reprint his reflections on Jack below. For readers interested in learning more about the Headwaters Montana organization, its website is On May 2 of this year, Jack Potter retired after 41 years with Glacier National Park, one of the few National Park Service employees to spend his entire professional career in one place.  To many of us on the ‘outside’ of Glacier’s internal operations, Jack has been the conscience of the bureaucracy for Glacier’s safekeeping.  The future challenges and threats facing Glacier are many and Jack’s vigilance and integrity will be hard to replace.  It is fair to ask, “Who will be the next Jack Potter for Glacier?”  Jack ended his career as chief of Science and Resource Management.  He started as a seasonal trail crew worker and worked his way up, learning the park from the inside out.  As he said in an interview with the NPS Park Science Magazine, “I have been very fortunate to be able to broaden my working experience and move upward in the ranks, especially in Glacier.”  This exceptional GNP employee has received several honors for his outstanding work at Glacier.  Jack was winner of the 2003 Intermountain “Regional Director’s Award for Resource Management”, as well as the 2007 Department of the Interior “Superior Service Award.” Among other accomplishments, he is credited with strengthening the park’s management team with his “in-depth knowledge” of Glacier and the National Park Service mission and objectives, and is recognized as being committed to the “highest principles of leadership and integrity.”   Jack can’t place his fondest memory of his time in Glacier.  “There are so many days and nights in Glacier’s backcountry, and every one was memorable.”  He recently recounted one funny incident when he was packing a trail crew out of No Name Lake.  Jack was having a problem with his pack string, and instead of tying his horse up after dismounting, he let the reins drop.  When he approached the problem mule, the mule stepped on his foot.  He let out a pained yell, and half the pack string took off down the trail without him.  Later, walking out and leading the remainder of the string, he encountered a woman who slyly asked, “Are you the one missing a horse and three mules? They seemed to be in an awfully big hurry.”  Jack Potter was part of many important Park decisions and decision-making processes.  He said the drafting and finishing of the Glacier General Management Plan was one of the more challenging and rewarding efforts for him.  The 1999 Plan basically “told the story of where the Park was headed for the next twenty years”. See next page


photo courtesy Dave Hadden ABOVE: Jack Potter

To honor Jack Potter’s legacy of stewardship at Glacier National Park, Headwaters Montana established in 2011 an annual award in his name. “The Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award” recognizes an individual who demonstrates courageous and above average commitment to the stewardship and protection of the natural resources of Glacier National Park.   Nominations for the award may be made by contacting HeadwatersMontana at


But perhaps just as important as the guiding documents he helped author, Jack was vital to keeping everyday decisions from damaging Glacier’s amazing wildlife, fisheries and water.  He helped reduce the impact of chalet reconstruction and ongoing management on Glacier’s fragile subalpine ecosystem.  He also made hundreds of daily management decisions to keep bulldozers out of creeks, pavement areas smaller, and Park, contractor or concessionaire activities quieter or more in keeping with the Park’s preservation mandate.  More recently, Jack used his position to help prevent mountaintop removal coal mining in the British Columbia headwaters of the North Fork Flathead River.  By helping guide the 2009 IUCN/World Heritage site “in danger” review, initiated because of BC mining and other threats, Jack contributed significantly to the progress of these efforts.  Headwaters Montana was one of the petitioners of that issue.  Jack said of that overall effort, “We were able to demonstrate the incompatibility of mining in this area with the world heritage site.”   Underscoring the importance of these complex and multi-faceted efforts, Jack also called the recent agreement between BC and Montana to ban mining and energy development in the North Fork Flathead “the biggest thing in my career,” some 36-years in the making.  Yet, mining development in BC is just one of many threats to Glacier, but Jack lists development pressure on Glacier’s perimeter and climate change as the two biggest. He includes among those threats the perennial issue of paving the North Fork Road, oil and gas development on the Blackfeet Reservation, as well as the pressures that the sheer volume of human visitors puts on wildlife and park resources that the public generally remains unaware of. The primary challenge, Jack asserts, will be keeping the Park from becoming an island surrounded by incompatible land uses.  That challenge will be keeping Glacier “intact and connected to adjoining wildlife habitat, particularly as the threat of climate change looms in the future.”   What does Jack see as his legacy to Glacier National Park?  Park Science Magazine asked him that question.  He responded as follows: “Resource protection has been a constant effort, with some problems that came and went and others that persist. I would say at least for the relatively short term, the General Management Plan, the Commercial Services Plan, and the Backcountry and Wilderness Plan and wilderness proposal have put some ideas into policy. There are many other efforts relating to fire and other issues that may also add up. Our Resource Management Plan was good for the time [i.e., 1994, updated in 1998], but it needs to be updated into a Resource Stewardship Plan.”  Stewardship.  That word seems to sum up Jack’s time and commitment to Glacier National Park.  Jack’s shoes will be very hard to fill, but surely his successors can strive for and build on his exceptional record.  Glacier deserves no less.  To read the Park Science Magazine article referenced in this article, go to: cfm?ArticleID=326&page=1


Headwaters Montana works to conserve the water, wildlife and traditional outdoor heritage in the Crown of the Continent. We focus on the west side of the Continental Divide and, more specifically, the Flathead Valley, with a pin-point focus on beating back the threat of mountaintop removal coal mining in the Canadian reach of the North Fork Flathead River. In 2010 we registered a historic breakthrough that ended 35 years of disagreement between Montana and British Columbia. In February 2010, Montana and B.C. signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that committed both governments to not develop energy or mining resources in that transnational watershed. As with most agreements, the devil is in the details. Headwaters Montana and its “Flathead Wild” ( team members have a nine-point conservation plan for the North Fork, including: Banning mining and energy development in the entire watershed; Doubling the size of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada;

Dave Hadden

Establishing a Wildlife Management Area between the border and Banff National Park; and Legislating a high quality conservation plan for national forest lands south of the border. Agreements like the MOU came into being only because the governments of Montana and B.C. got the message from citizens like you who expressed their concern. The North Fork Flathead issue still needs your voice. Please sign up with Headwaters Montana and lend your support for one of the most biologically important places in the Crown of the Continent. Visit us at www. Thank You!

Headwaters Montana PO Box 3410 Whitefish, MT 59937 406-837-0783


THE LONESOME LIFE Kishenehn Ranger Station 1910–1940 by MARK HUFSTETLER

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ven by Montana standards, the North Fork of the Flathead River traverses a remote landscape, one that still evokes a sense of the frontier. Today, the long, forested valley remains inaccessible by paved road, lacks commercial electric service, and is home to only a handful of year-round residents. Although the North Fork marks the northwestern boundary of ­Glacier National Park, only a tiny fraction of the park’s v ­ isitors venture into the area. The sense of “frontier” that characterizes the North Fork country is an enduring legacy of the early years of Euro-American settlement in the area

George Grant, photographer, Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, HPF 4148 LEFT: Nearly forty miles from park headquarters at West Glacier as the crow flies, Kishenehn Ranger Station’s territory included some of Glacier’s most remote and little-visited country. Across the foothills to the east, Kintla Lake (above, August 6, 1932) was the only attraction frequented by travelers.

and a reminder of the isolation and need for selfsufficiency that has always been inherent to life on the fringe of wilderness. Along the North Fork, those challenges were faced by homesteaders, loggers, and prospectors who entered the region beginning in the 1890s as well as a handful of forest and park rangers charged with ­managing the land and its resources in a valley that was (and is) largely federal property, protected as part of the Flathead National Forest or Glacier Park. With duty stations that were very remote, even by North Fork standards, the area’s early rangers existed in an often-solitary world, their daily lives characterized by a unique combination of wil-

derness self-reliance and bureaucratic responsibility.1 The North Fork country first received designated federal protection in 1897 with the establishment of the Flathead Forest Reserve. While the Department of Agriculture exerted a thin administrative control over the reserve in the years that followed, it was not until the 1910 creation of Glacier Park that the ­valley saw a significant federal presence. Glacier’s establishment effectively split the valley between two federal ­agencies—and more importantly, between two contrasting land management philosophies. West of the North Fork, the national forest land continued to sustain multiple uses, with homesteading, ­logging, and

hunting all taking place. The land east of the river, though, was now part of a national park with land and wildlife protection as a primary goal. In the eyes of Glacier’s early managers, this dichotomy was a potential threat to the park’s management goals. To prevent hunting, timber-cutting, and other p ­ otentially ­damaging activities from filtering into Glacier, an active official presence along the park boundary seemed essential.2 Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, enforcement of the park boundary was a major focus of Glacier’s administrative efforts and a major duty of the park’s small ranger force. It was accomplished primarily by

the establishment of a string of log-cabin ranger stations along most of the park’s borders and a newly built boundary trail intended primarily for administrative patrol. Most of Glacier’s rangers were based at these remote outposts, one man per station yearround, each a human presence to help distinguish the line between protected and open land. Three of these stations were in the North Fork country: Logging Creek, a former Forest Service facility; Polebridge, near the center of North Fork homestead activity; and Kishenehn, an isolated spot just south of See next page



the Canadian border. The Kishenehn facility was fairly typical of Glacier’s early ranger outposts. Constructed near the spot where Kishenehn Creek entered the North Fork, Kishenehn served as the park’s most northwesterly administrative site. From there, rangers could ­ theoretically monitor the Canadian border just to the north as well as the park’s western boundary along the river. Though the area’s isolation meant that it was removed from most North Fork activity and settlement, a small number of homesteads lay across the river a few miles to the west, forming a rural community known as Trail Creek; these were Kishenehn’s nearest neighbors, and perhaps a source of enough concern to park administrators to warrant a ranger’s presence.4 The Kishenehn district ranger oversaw a small, roughly triangular domain that included some of ­Glacier’s most remote and little-visited ­country. The s­outhern end of the Kishenehn district included ­patented homestead entries that predated the park, but otherwise the land was virtually undisturbed. Kintla Lake, across the foothills to the east, was the only location even occasionally frequented by tourists; a small camping area existed there, reached by a rough automobile road that predated the park. For most of the ranger station’s history, road access to Kishenehn itself was problematic at best. Early maps show an unimproved fork of the Kintla road following the east bank of the North Fork

past Kishenehn all the way to the Canadian border, but early park documents mention travel to Kishenehn only on foot and horseback, suggesting that this pioneer route may have been impassible to wheeled vehicles. A rough truck road to Kishenehn was finally punched through from the Kintla road by the late 1920s, but its use was limited to the summer months. Dave Cannavina, an early Kishenehn ranger, recalled once attempting to make the drive in April; his truck became hopelessly stuck north of Polebridge, and a North Fork rancher used a team of horses to pull the vehicle the remaining fifteen-odd miles to Kishenehn. The vagaries of the park road meant that the most reliable access to Kishenehn was usually the hike in from Trail Creek, crossing the North Fork either in a boat or a primitive cable “bucket crossing” installed by the park. This remote geography and limited infra­ structure meant that, administratively, the Kishenehn ranger was largely on his own. Except under the best of conditions, the next-nearest ranger station (at Polebridge) was a full day’s ride away. Despite this isolation, though, Kishenehn was the hub of a substantial network of trails, including the boundary route along the river; a route up Kishenehn Creek to British Columbia; and another heading over the ridge to Kintla Lake. Small “patrol cabins” existed at both ends of Kintla Lake and at Ford Creek, providing overnight shelter for extended ranger patrols. Single-strand telephone

lines, strung through the trees, connected Kishenehn with Polebridge and ultimately with park headquarters in far-away West Glacier. The phone lines were notoriously unreliable, frequently broken by deadfall and largely unusable during the winter months. The Kishenehn station itself began with the construction of a small log cabin in 1913, a building that was destroyed by fire six years later. The replacement structure, completed in 1921, provided two small rooms and a covered front porch and served both as office and living quarters for the Kishenehn ranger. A small, rustic horse barn stood nearby, and in later years the park added a “fire cache” building, where equipment for fighting forest fires was stored. A woodshed and an outhouse completed the outpost. This collection of buildings was characteristic of nearly all of Glacier’s earlytwentieth-century ranger stations. For the first quarter-century of Glacier’s ­existence, the little cluster of buildings at Kishenehn was deemed a sufficiently strategic location that a ­member of Glacier’s small ranger force was stationed there year-round. In the North Fork and elsewhere, most of Glacier’s early rangers were local residents and area homesteaders, who already knew the See next page

George Grant, photographer, Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, Grant185x This August 7, 1932, photograph shows ranger Andy Fleutsch in front of the Kishenehn station. The two-room cabin in the foreground served as both the station office and Fleutsch’s living quarters. Built in 1921, it replaced an earlier building destroyed by fire two years earler. The smaller building in the background was a fire cache, storing equipment used in fighting forest fires. A barn, a woodshed, and an outhouse completed the Kishenehn building ensemble.




outdoor skills that were mandatory for a wilderness life. All were male, and most were single, often drawn to park service work for the promise of steady wages as much as the lure of the outdoors. A Glacier ranger in the early 1920s might earn one hundred dollars per month, housing included—a respectable sum in an area where much blue-collar work was seasonal and homesteads often could generate only a subsistence lifestyle. During those years, the total Glacier ranger force typically consisted of fifteen to twenty men, most stationed alone at places such as Kishenehn. In the summer of 1921, a typical year, ­Glacier’s ranger staff consisted of a chief park ranger, three assistant chief park rangers, a “Carpenter and Park Ranger,” and twelve park rangers, four of whom held temporary positions.8 Some served for only a season or two, while a few made careers of the ranger life. Though park records are incomplete, most Kishenehn r­angers apparently remained there only a short time before either ­leaving the service or moving on to less-­inaccessible duty ­stations.9 Though most of the men who served at Kishenehn were Montanans and seasoned outdoorsmen, adapting to the daily life of a Glacier ranger still required a significant change of focus. A ranger’s primary responsibility—monitoring the park’s borders and protecting its natural resources—placed him in direct contrast to the North Fork’s homesteaders, many

of whom subsisted through the logging and hunting activities that Glacier prohibited. The early North Fork homestead community included both a growing number of settlers claiming National Forest land west of the river, as well as a handful of settlers within the park itself, who lived on grandfathered land claims filed prior to Glacier’s 1910 establishment. This complicated the issue still further, since logging—and, for a time, hunting—could still take place on those private inholdings. The dichotomy between resource policy and settlement lifestyle set the stage for fundamental conflict between the Kishenehn ranger and the people who were his only neighbors, a difficult situation that wasn’t always successfully managed. The homestead land nearest Kishenehn was long owned by a man named Matt Brill, who operated the “Kintla Guest Ranch” on the property. Over the years, the Brill ­family became the good friends of some North Fork rangers and the adversaries of others; Kishenehn rangers could alternate socializing at the Brill place with days spent chasing Brill’s trespassing livestock off of park lands. Persistent but unconfirmed North Fork rumors suggest that Brill and his dude-ranch guests, who had some political connections, finally had the last laugh by arranging for the transfer of one difficult North Fork ranger to Mount McKinley National Park in Alaska.

Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, GLAC 11549 BOTTOM LEFT: In the 1930s, with the completion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the park reduced the number of year-round ranger stations, shifting focus to areas that received more visitors. By the end of the decade, Glacier staffed Kishenehn only in the summer, and in later years the station stood empty except for the occasional ranger patrol. Here North Forkers Charlie Boyer (left) and Matt Brill cross an unidentified creek with their catch, enjoying the frontier lifestyle that characterized the world of Kishenehn and the North Fork country. CENTER: By the 1930s, more of Glacier’s rangers were married, and the presence of family members at the ranger station helped strengthen social connections between the rangers and the North Fork community. Glenn and Mary Ellen Miller marked their first wedding anniversary while Glenn was stationed at Kishenehn in the winter of 1935–36. This photo shows Mary Ellen with the pelt of a coyote Glenn shot that winter. Mary Ellen later recalled that Glenn gave her the bounty he received for the coyote kill, so she could treat herself to a permanent wave. Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, HPF 3720 BELOW: Kishenehn’s remoteness left its rangers largely self-reliant, connected to Polebridge and park headquarters only by notoriously undependable single-strand telephone lines. Strung through the trees, the North Fork telephone lines were often broken by deadfall and rendered unusable for extended periods. This 1938 view shows Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees transporting new telephone cable across Logan Pass, a modernization project that never reached Glacier’s North Fork country.

Chasing Matt Brill’s horses was an obvious and time-honored duty of the Kishenehn district ranger, one of many tasks that fell under the broad heading of resource protection. Beyond that overall goal, though, most new rangers arrived at Kishenehn with relatively ­little idea of the specific tasks expected of them. Dave Cannavina, who served at Kishenehn in the 1930s, recalled: In those days you were sent out to a station and you were left on your own; you were on your own to figure out what you were supposed to do. I read the diary and


saw what the other rangers had done, and kind of guided myself accordingly. And I knew that there were trails to open up in the early spring, and equipment to get into shape for firefighting; and maintenance of the station. I had two horses. In those days each ranger had to have his own saddle horse and pack horse and had to take care of the horses, feed them, mend corrals and pasture fences, and get food and supplies in. Cannavina remembered most of his See next page



Kishenehn days as being focused on movement, traveling the ­district’s trail network to observe wildlife, ­searching for poachers or other violations, and simply asserting an official presence in the area. Rangers were reportedly expected to complete three hundred miles of patrol per month, and the Kishenehn logbooks list an endless, repeating cycle of daily patrols, ­traveling each of the district’s trails in sequence. Summer patrols were on foot or horseback, while winter ­journeys typically required the use of snowshoes. Round trips along the river and up Kishenehn Creek could be accomplished in a single day; the longest regular patrol circuit was a three-day loop that included overnight stays at Kintla Lake and Ford Creek. The patrol days were interspersed by twiceweekly trips to Trail Creek for mail, days spent repairing and maintain-

ing equipment, and rare expeditions to Polebridge or West Glacier. The surviving Kishenehn ranger station logs are uniformly dry and laconic, but they suggest that nearly all of the patrols from the station were ­thoroughly uneventful affairs. Reports of ­poachers, illicit border crossings, or other potential rule violations are almost wholly absent, casting doubt (at least in retrospect) on the necessity of Kishenehn’s ­boundary protection mission. In contrast, the rangers at Polebridge and Logging Creek, both more accessible locations, reported occasional encounters with poachers, moonshiners, and other lawbreakers. The Kishenehn work routine remained remarkably consistent, from season to season and from year to year. Weekends were nonexistent, and rare interruptions to the daily schedule usually took place only on

major holidays and at the change of seasons. Late autumn generally meant a multiday trip to West Glacier or Kalispell to purchase winter supplies, provisioning trips to the outlying patrol cabins, and extra time spent preparing and maintaining ­equipment. Fall also saw the station’s horses shipped out to their winter pasture. In the spring, reopening the trails and repairing telephone lines consumed considerable attention. Trail clearing was pain­stakingly accomplished with axes and saws, and ­rangers often spent days tracing remote telephone wires ­looking for breaks. Kishenehn’s rare v ­ isitors—nearly always ­fellow rangers—typically came during the ­summer months, and some summers a seasonal fire guard would live at the ­station, doubling its ­official ­population. The seven-day workweek of a back-country ranger left little time for

leisure activity, though Kishenehn’s isolation made socializing difficult at best. Most of Kishenehn’s rangers were unmarried men, and their logbook entries made little ­mention of social events. Thanksgiving and Christmas were usually the only holidays noted in the diaries, though holiday ­celebrations at the station were ­uncommon. (Thanksgiving 1933 was a rare exception, when most of Glacier’s west-side ranger force met at Kishenehn to celebrate the holiday.) Over the years, a few Kishenehn rangers routinely traveled to the Polebridge or Logging Creek stations to spend holidays with ­fellow rangers, while others stayed at Kishenehn alone, sometimes preparing solitary holiday meals, sometimes apparently not marking the day at all. The anonymous station logbook entry for ­December 25, 1930, is typical: “At station all day—taking care of Mr. Turkey. Weather is fine, clear; AM zero, PM 10.” Another unsigned entry for Christmas 1934, though, was less satisfying: “Went to Trail Creek for food for Xmas dinner. Bad trip. Did not get back until 7:15 p.m. in the dark. A poor day.” The ranger uncharacteristically took the twenty-sixth off as well to finally prepare his holiday dinner. By the 1930s, more of Glacier’s rangers were married, and some even had children; this changed the atmosphere of the back-country ranger stations considerably. Social activities took on a more visible role, with the North Fork community often embracing the Park Service employees more fully. A Depression-era Kishenehn ranger named Glen Miller brought his wife, Mary Ellen, to Kishenehn for the better part of a winter, and though her days were largely solitary, she reminisced about the time fondly: “I liked it up there. Because you would be snowshoeing and everything was so calm and so ­peaceful, the snow was so white. I loved it, and I still do. . . . [W]e were living up there at Kishenehn for our first anniversary. We were just sitting and talking and had the radio going, and pretty soon we heard bells. And here comes Matt and Meta Brill. She had made a cake, and she had gotten flowers from her plants in the house, and some of the greenery and brought a bouquet. That was our first anniversary. I thought that was neat.” Single or married, many of Kishenehn’s rangers clearly took to the life, in spite of the long periods of isolation, daily physical labor, and a largely mundane routine. ­Others tolerated the situation less well, and at Kishenehn this ultimately resulted in a tragedy. In the winter of 1925–26, Kishenehn’s ranger was a young man named William McAfee, a Texan who had relocated to Montana and settled on a homestead near Trail Creek. The winter isolation took its toll on McAfee, as did a failed relationship with someone he described only as “the kid.” Things grew worse when the Park Service laid him off due to a lack of funds while still asking him to remain at the station for the winter until he could be recalled to duty. On January 13, 1926, McAfee wrote to a friend in Kalispell: “You know, take it See next page

Glacier National Park Archives, West Glacier, HPF 9592 A small collection of early twentieth-century log buildings marked the Kishenehn Ranger Station on the northwest edge of Glacier National Park. The ranger stationed at this isolated outpost monitored the park’s western boundary as well as the international border to the north, and patrolled a network of remote trails while working to protect the park’s natural resources. In a rare break from their usually solitary lives, park rangers from several locations shared Thanksgiving at Kishenehn in 1933. Gathered on the porch, below, are (left to right): Elmer Fladmark, park headquarters; Channing Howell, Fish Creek; Joe Heimes, a long-time Glacier ranger; Ray Newbury, Lake McDonald; Andy Fleutsch, Kishenehn; Hugh Buchanan, Polebridge; Ben Miller, Walton; Hugh Peyton, Logging Creek. The boy is unidentified.






all in all, there are many disadvantages to a job of this kind. You know what I mean. A fellow is shut out from the outside world too much and at times the lonesomeness is almost maddening. So I am thinking very much of quitting the Park Service for good.”16 McAfee’s depression apparently worsened in the weeks that followed, and on February 7 he stepped outside the Kishenehn station and shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Local ranchers discovered the suicide soon after and telephoned the news to park headquarters. The tragedy was met with considerable consternation by park staff, who concocted a long press release stating that the thirty-five-year-old McAfee had died “probably from heart failure.” Informed of McAfee’s death, Park Service director Stephen Mather announced that he could be buried in the park, though McAfee’s remains ­ultimately went to the Montana Veterans Cemetery in ­Columbia Falls. The other North Fork–area ­rangers traveled to the funeral, and they were given use of the park super­intendent’s new home the evening of the service. The McAfee story was the only great tragedy in nearly three decades of year-round life at Kishenehn, a history largely defined by solitary days spent in the cause of protecting a remote corner of a grand national park. That legacy continued to play out into the 1930s, when the park rearranged its administrative structure to reduce the number of ranger districts and eliminate some year-round back-country positions. The change, a response to increased visitation caused by completion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, marked an increased focus towards visitor service and, perhaps, a realization that guarding Glacier’s borders was now less necessary. By the end of the decade, Kishenehn was staffed only during the summer months, and eventually even that ceased, ­leaving the station abandoned except for the occasional ranger on patrol.19 Today, the old Kishenehn district remains as remote and little visited as ever. Perhaps surprisingly, the buildings, patrol cabins, and trails all remain, though the old road to the ranger station—washed out in a 1964 flood—is now a primitive trail. The ­cabins still receive infrequent visits from park staff, now based in Polebridge, and, rarely, a ranger will still traverse some of the old patrol trails. One of Glacier’s quietest places, ­Kishenehn exists today as a reminder of Glacier’s early, ­formative years. Mark Hufstetler first arrived in Montana in 1978 to begin a seasonal job in Glacier Park. Now a professional historian based in Bozeman, he specializes in the architectural and engineering history of the northern plains and Rockies, including Glacier.

Across busy Highway 3



ragmentation of wildlife habitat is a significant factor limiting the health of wildlife populations in many regions. Infrastructure such as roads makes it difficult for animals to move across the landscape. The Highway 3 transportation corridor has been identified as a major challenge to maintaining wildlife connectivity at the northern edge of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem. Maintaining connectivity- the ability of animals to move through the landscape to find suitable habitat, food and mates- is vital as the Crown of the Continent is one of the last places in North America that still hosts all of its native carnivores alongside an unbelievable diversity of plants and animals. Highway 3 is a two-lane, east–west highway supporting 6,000 to 9,000 vehicles per day traveling over the Continental Divide at Crowsnest Pass in the southern Canadian Rockies. The current rate of wildlife–vehicle collisions involving large mammals along Highway 3 has raised concerns among agencies and the public regarding motorist safety. Although highway segments experiencing a high number of these collisions are predominantly found to involve deer, collisions also occur with less common species such as elk, moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, wolf, lynx, bobcat and cougar. Further, there is pressure to twin sections of the Highway 3 transportation corridor on the Alberta side of the Highway 3 transportation corridor. Ensuring healthy wildlife populations often requires conservation strategies that are collaborative in nature and build on the best available science- an approach that has been applied to the Highway 3 transportation corridor. Through a partnership between the Western Transportation Institute photos by the Mistakis Institute

(WTI), the Miistakis Institute, and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, solutions to maintaining wildlife connectivity across Highway 3 are being considered. The partners brought together scientists, government agency representatives, Roadwatch (a citizen science program for reporting wildlife and wildlife vehicle collisions on Highway 3 - http://www.rockies. ca/roadwatch/) and other experts to identify key ungulate and carnivore movement areas across Highway 3. The result of this workshop was the identification of important crossing sites for wildlife; this information was made accessible to transportation planners working on the Highway 3 corridor. In addition highway mitigation experts visited Highway 3 to recommend a suite of options to improve wildlife movement opportunities and human safety. A summary of this information was presented as a report entitled Highway 3: Transportation Mitigation for Wildlife and Connectivity (http:// Final%20Report%2007_01_10_FINAL%20 SHORT%20VERSION.pdf). This report was generously supported by the Galvin Family Fund, the Kayak Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and Woodcock Foundation. In addition to the identification of key sites for mitigation, WTI ran an economic model, developed by Marcel Huijser, to compare the cost of mitigation against the costs to society of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Highway 3 was the first local highway where wildlife vehicle collision data was used to understand the costs associated with collisions versus costs of mitigation. The model determined that for many sites along the Highway 3 transportation cor-

ridor it made sense from an economic perspective to implement mitigation as there would be a costs savings to society. Great progress is being made on the Alberta side of the Highway 3 transportation corridor. Project partners are working with Alberta Transportation to identify two mitigation sites: Crowsnest Lakes and Rock Creek. Crowsnest Lakes is a mitigation site proposed to protect bighorn sheep, mitigation measures recommended fencing bighorn sheep off the highway at key collision hotspots. The sheep would be monitored to determine if shifting their crossing to safer locations on the highway (straight open sections) helps to reduce the number of collisions. The Rock Creek mitigation site represents the highest collision zone within the study area for ungulates and is also an important movement area for carnivores. Mitigation recommendations for this site include; development of a single span underpass with fencing to encourage wildlife to use the new structure. Implementation of these mitigation measures will go a long way to reducing wildlife vehicle collisions and improving human and wildlife safety wildlife along the Highway 3 Transportation Corridor. Affiliated with the University of Calgary, the Miistakis Institute is a non-profit organization that undertakes and supports both pure and applied research respecting the ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains and surrounding regions. It also assists in the development and implementation of collaborative ecosystem management. To learn more about the Institute and its activities, check out its website at www.





As we did a couple of issues ago, when we focused our “Towns of the Crown” feature on Fernie B.C., we are merging again this issue’s “Town” feature and our regular “Book Recommendation” by writing about the wonderful and interesting small town of Waterton and the impressive book, Waterton Chronicles. People and their National Park, written by Chris Morrison and edited by Ray Djuff (Waterton Park & Calgary, Goathaunt Publishing: 2008--$34.95 Canadian). We would like to thank the author and publisher at the outset for permission to use here the cover photo from the book as well as the black-and-white photos included with this piece.

W 38

aterton Lakes is known virtually to everyone as the Canadian portion of the Glacier and Waterton Lakes

International Peace Park and the home of the Prince of Wales Hotel, one of the legendary, grand hotels in this unique, trans-boundary park. Those who have visited the park also know Waterton as the name of a quaint and welcoming village that is nestled between glorious mountains and the grand “Waterton Lakes,” a village that offers numerous shops, restaurants, motels and accommodations, as well as a long list of tourist services. Yet, perhaps not as well-known is the fact that Watertown is not just a seasonal, but a year-round town, home to a small but vigorous number of citizens whose ancestors founded the town and negotiated for the past hundred years the challenges of weather, history, politics, changing visitor wishes, and the fact that it is located in a Canadian

National Park as they somehow made their hybrid town work. This handsome, large format, and weighty book, WATERTON CHRONICLES, tells the story (through stories, anecdotes, photos and narrated history) of this “town” that is both home to year round residents and the center of business, services, social and recreational amenities, as well as the administrative offices of the National Park that shares its name. Unlike the other towns that are associated with the Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, this remarkable small town isn’t situated somewhere on an edge of one of those parks, but in one of them. As such it has never been a fully independent municipality, and some of the most interesting stories told in this supremely researched

book have to do with the special challenges of negotiating with both the Park administration and Canada’s National Parks agency, as well as the changing desires and expectations of seasonal, mostly summer, visitors to be a regular, functioning town and home to that small and hardy citizenry made up of families, business people, artists and scientists, park officials and workers. WATERTON CHRONICLES boasts some 250 pages, including a very useful index and a fascinating final section that includes photos and brief texts about dozens of the individual houses, cabins, business buildings, and visitor accommodation buildings that have given the town its special man-made physical character for over one-hundred years. I suspect that readers will look at that

section many times, as I have, with great interest, and will gain a visual sense of the history of the town told through its buildings. But most of the information and insights one gets from the book are packed into the first six chapters (of seven) that take up the initial one-hundred-thirty pages. Organized into focused discussions of various aspects of the town’s and the Park’s intertwined prehistory and history, such as Chapter One, “With Posterity’s Blessing,” these chapters offer detailed narratives of the town’s history, enhanced by textual anecdotes of some of its most colorful and important citizens, or, as in “Camps: the Memory Makers,” the story of the importance of variously sponsored camps for youth and adults over time See next page


and how those experiences transformed many campers into lifelong, loyal supporters of both town and Park and, sometimes, inspired them years later to return and make Waterton their home, usually for the summer season, but sometimes year-round. Chapter Two, “Accommodations: A Roof Overhead,” relates not only the major story of the most famous of them all, the Prince of Wales Hotel, which every visitor to Waterton will want to read, but the varied story of the many smaller hotels, motels, guest cabins, tent and camper parks, and B & B’s as well. Through these stories of physical facilities, readers will learn a lot about how the realities of the external world --two World Wars, prohibition, political and social changes—, as well as local floods and fires and changing administrative rules and priorities, affected directly and indirectly the course of the town’s and Park’s history. Chapters Three (“Entrepeneurs: Like Nobody’s Business”), Four (“Golf Course: Grounds for Play”), and Five (“Booze: Prohibition to Privatization”) follow the


lead of Chapter Two and offer narratives, sketches, and photos that tell that same history, but with different details and through additional and very informative perspectives. Regardless of whether one is reading about the lives of the various businesses and their owners, or the building, maintaining, and then expanding the initial nine-hole course into eighteen holes, or about how bar, tavern and restaurant owners, as well as their thirsty customers, dealt with prohibition, bootlegging, and administrative regulation, one learns through the details and differing lenses a great deal about Waterton, its visitors, and, most importantly, perhaps, its colorful and inventive people. The first five chapters, covering pages 4 to 131, can be read as one narrative with several intertwining stories, told from different vantage points, or one can read a chapter or even parts of a chapter separately and still gain great insight into the history of this remarkable place, its people, and its visitors. What the book does not offer, or pretend to offer, is the more spacious story of

Waterton Lakes National Park as a wonder of nature that has grown and expanded and shrunk several times since its inception in 1895 as “Kootenay Lakes Forest Reserve” to its current size, adjusted most recently in 2000. That is an enticing and fascinating story that any one of several other books tells well. What this marvelous book does is tell the story of the town of Waterton. And it is local history at its best, that is, local history that tells of a particular place not in a vacuum, but a place whose history both reflects the reality of the world beyond and is imbedded in it. Available from virtually any of Glacier or Waterton Lakes National Parks’ bookshops or directly from Goathunt Publishing in Waterton Park, this book makes a wonderful gift for anyone interested in the Crown and one of its special places and will provide even very knowledgeable Crown fans with new information and insights about a very special place and its people.

CROWN ROUNDTABLE In te g ra ti o n o f C u l t u re, C o m m u n i t y a n d C o n s e r va ti o n by Kim Davitt

When Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation shared the Ktunaxa’s Creation Story with a group of government agency representatives, tribal members, conservationists, local business people, and local politicians at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent last month, people listened. They listened with all their attention, with their heads and their hearts, and they really heard her message: whether embedded in culture and tradition, or informed by science and reason, there is an inextricable link between people and nature in the Crown of the Continent – a link that provides a sense of place and purpose and compels stewardship of the region’s landscapes and communities. This connection between people and nature – characterized as the integration of culture, community, and conservation by the conference hosts, the Confederated Sal-

ish and Kootenai Tribal Council – served as the centerpiece of discussions at the conference. Over the course of the program, participants examined the unique cultural elements that define what it means to live and work in the Crown of the Continent. They explored how the region is adapting to changes across the landscape, in local and regional economies, and to our cultures and traditions. They also informed and invigorated their ideas and work by learning about national and regional initiatives in the United States and Canada. Students from throughout the region helped capture these conversations and ideas and compiled a list of best practices for integrating cultural, economic, and conservation dimensions into decisions being made across this remarkable region. It was a great opportunity for people who care about the Crown of the Continent to build relationships, exchange information and foster a sense of regional

identity and purpose. “The Crown of the Continent has many meanings for many people,” said Gary Tabor of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, “One of the accomplishments of the Roundtable is that it brings different perspectives together to create some cohesion: a community of people working to protect its unique features and identity.” Building from the discussions at the conference, the Roundtable Leadership Team, comprised of practitioners from all corners of the Crown of the Continent, will work to create a cohesive approach to adaptive management in the region. This group will work with communities, tribes, local governments, businesses, agencies and non-governmental organizations to identify and coordinate existing efforts and to develop a portfolio of projects that will help sustain and enhance the region’s communities, landscapes, and culture.


The bea uty o f a

burned forest

The only thing that’s constant in the Crown is change.


story and photos by RICHARD HUTTO

n the Northern Rockies, forests that have escaped fire are rare. In the Crown, fire is just as important as rainfall and sunlight are to plants and animals. For the vast majority of forest types within the region, the predominant fire regime is one of infrequent, intense, stand-replacement fires—not one of frequent, low-intensity, understory burns. With ever-present fire in the system, we might expect that plants and animals have, over evolutionary time, not only come to survive severe fire, but to depend on severe fire for their persistence and success. That is the story I want to tell here. Despite widespread death associated with fire, severely burned forest systems are neither “destroyed” nor “lifeless.” As an ecologist and teacher who frequently speaks to public audiences, I have become more and more sensitive to the fact that most people have never heard that there are some plant and animal species that are hard to find anywhere outside a forest that was severely burned fewer than 10 years before. Indeed, the biological magic associated with severe disturbance events is apparently one of nature’s best-kept secrets! Following the widespread fires of 1988, I was curious to see whether the forests of Yellowstone, Glacier and elsewhere between the two parks had become transformed into lifeless biological deserts, as implied by press reports at the time See nex t page



(and as implied still by similar reports that follow major fire events even today), or whether the actual story is something different. During the two summer seasons immediately following the 1988 fires, a number of field assistants and I visited 34 different burned-forest sites in western Montana and northern Wyoming and we recorded the bird community composition in each. Contrary to what one might expect to find immediately following a major disturbance event like wildfire, we detected a surprisingly large number of species in forests that had undergone stand-replacement fires. More specifically, we detected an average of 45 species per site, and a total of 87 species in the sites combined. Some of the most commonly detected species included the Hairy Woodpecker, American Robin, Mountain Bluebird, and Dark-eyed Junco (Figure 1, blue bird photo on right). Further analysis showed that 15 of the 87 bird species were more abundant in the early post-fire communities than they were reported to be in any other major vegetation type within the northern Rockies. Thus, birds were not only present, but the bird communities in recently burned forests were interestingly different in composition from those that characterize other Rocky Mountain cover types (including early-successional clearcuts, which are not at all similar in bird community composition). The most amazing finding was that one bird species, the Black-backed Woodpecker, Picoides arcticus, seemed to be nearly restricted in its habitat distribution to forests that had been burned in the recent past. How did I determine that Black-backs were relatively restricted to recently burned forests? I compiled bird survey data that were available from published studies associated with a dozen different vegetation types. The Black-backed Woodpecker was detected less than 10% of the time in unburned vegetation types, but was detected about 80% of the time in studies conducted in burned forests (Figure 2, photo on left). Because these data were derived from a literature-based metaanalysis of studies that differed in duration and survey methodology and were drawn from a relatively small number of vegetation types, I encountered some skepticism—the pattern could have been an artifact of the incomplete range of vegetation types surveyed, or an artifact of combining results from studies that used different methods used to survey birds. At about the same time, I began working with the USFS Northern Region to develop a bird monitoring program that would involve use of the identical field methods across


as large a range of vegetation types as possible. Now, 20 years later, the USFS Northern Region Landbird Monitoring Program stands as one of the largest bird point-count databases of its kind in the world, with sample locations drawn from a wide range of vegetation types across northern Idaho and western Montana. By combining those data with data collected from locations distributed within more than 50 fires that had burned in western Montana during the past 20 years, I am now able to ask, once and for all, whether the Black-backed Woodpecker is relatively restricted to burned forest conditions. After summarizing information from more than 50,000 survey locations distributed across nearly every vegetation type occurring in the northern Rockies, it is clear that the restricted distribution pattern is not an artifact of problems associated with my earlier metaanalysis. The Black-backed Woodpecker is, as my earSee next page


lier study suggested, nearly restricted in its habitat distribution to burned forest conditions. Just take the time to look carefully at a Black-backed Woodpecker—everything about it, including its jet-black coloration, seems to reflect a long evolutionary history with burned forests. As I like to point out, the black coloration against a blackened tree is no less impressive than the white coloration of a ptarmigan against snow—both coloration patterns have undoubtedly evolved over long time periods in association with their respective environmental backdrops! The Black-backed Woodpecker capitalizes on the population explosion of wood-boring beetle larvae in burned forests, as do several other woodpecker species. Because many burned trees die, they can no longer defend themselves against beetles by swamping the eggs and larvae with pitch exuded into their burrows. Consequently, the adult beetles have evolved to fly in immediately after fire to lay their eggs on now-defenseless trees that still have plenty of good wood beneath that scorched bark. Some beetle species are so specialized to live in fire-dominated systems like those here in the Crown, that they have evolved infrared sensors that allow them to detect heat from miles and miles away so that they can colonize recently burned forests as rapidly as possible. Although the Black-backed Woodpecker is the most extreme species in terms of its restriction to, and evolutionary history with, burned forests, many additional bird species reach their greatest abundance in burned forests (15 of 87 species detected in burned forests, as I noted above). These include the Three-toed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow, and Red Crossbill. All the woodpeckers feed on the abundant beetle larvae beneath


the bark of standing, fire-killed trees, while flycatchers and bluebirds take advantage of the open conditions for pouncing on or sallying after flying insects, and seedeaters capitalize on the increased availability of seeds from both cone-bearing trees, some of which wait for more than 150 years for fire to heat and open their cones, thereby releasing their seeds.


he story doesn’t end with birds, of course. I have barely scratched the surface of the amazing biological story behind severe fire. In addition to the specialized beetles, there are cone-bearing tree species that require severe fire for the heat needed to open their cones, and there’s the fire morel, which is also relatively restricted to severely burned forests. It’s no wonder that we enjoy a boom year for morel mushrooms at the local farmer’s market following a severe forest fire season in western Montana. The seeds

of Bicknell’s geranium can wait in the soil for more than 100 years until a severe fire allows them to break from that dormancy, germinate, and complete their life cycle. By definition, fire specialists such as the Black-backed Woodpecker or the lodgepole pine depend heavily on very specific conditions to realize their own success. Therefore, if we study the patterns of distribution and success of these fire-dependent species across the variety of burn severities within burned-forSee next page


It’s no

wonder that we enjoy a boom year for morel mushrooms at the local farmer’s market following a severe forest fire season in western Montana. The seeds of Bicknell’s geranium can wait in the soil for more than 100 years until a severe fire allows them to break from that dormancy, germinate, and complete their life cycle.

Richard Hutto, professor and director of the Avian Science Center University of Montana

est perimeters, we can gain insight into the kinds of fires that constitute the naturally occurring fire regime in areas that were historically occupied by the specialists. Very specific kinds of fires must have provided the environmental backdrop against which these specialized native species evolved; so what kinds of historical fires were they? Amazingly, within burned forest perimeters, Black-backed Woodpeckers are almost entirely absent from unburned patches within those fire perimeters, and they become more common as fire severity increases! The same pattern is true of a number of other species, including the American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, and Tree Swallow. As I expressed in a recent publication—some like it hot! These results are profound because they imply that the very fires often regarded as “unnatural” and “destructive” are the very fires that provide the best conditions for the most fire-dependent plant and animal species. Land managers can’t create the magic through severe cutting—fire is critical. One could argue that any loss of burned forest acreage due to past fire suppression activity has been compensated for, at least in part, by timber harvesting activities. As evidenced by letters submitted to the editors of local newspapers after any major fire event, many people believe that the conditions present after a clearcut or following one of the newer green-tree retention or forest restoration cuts are basically the same as those present after a severe fire. They are wrong. Conditions created by a stand-replacement forest fire are biologically unique at the very least in terms of the biomass of standing dead trees that remain, and to a much greater extent, in terms of ecosystem structure and function. While timber harvesting is a form of ecological disturbance, it is a poor substitute for firebased disturbance because it does not result in numerous, burned, standing-dead trees. Such trees are the most critical component of a biologically diverse postfire ecosystem and that single component contributes significantly to the production of unique successional pathways and unique wildlife communities that we see after fire.


People have slowly come to accept the fact that lowseverity fires burned historically, but they still view severe events as “unnatural” events. How often have you read the following? “Dry, ponderosa pine-dominated forests of the western United States are widely


believed to have experienced a buildup of fuels in the past century due to a combination of over-aggressive fire suppression efforts, overgrazing, and overharvesting. As a result, those western forests suffer from more extreme fire behavior because they burn with unnatural or unprecedented intensity.” Unfortunately, we may be inappropriately extrapolating results from ponderosa pine systems that are quite common the Southwest, to the more mesic ponderosa pine systems and the mixed-conifer forest types that make up the vast majority (about 85%) of forested area in the Crown. Indeed, severe fires are routinely referred to as “catastrophic” events in the popular press regardless of forest type, and such terminology even appears in proposed congressional legislation drafted to deal with severe fire’s aftermath. Given the current rate at which land managers are implementing forest restoration projects specifically designed to prevent severe fire sometimes well outside the dry, ponderosa pine system, one would hope that generalizations about the state of our forests are broadly applicable. The ecology and life history adaptations of living organisms are greatly underused as sources of reliable information in the debate about what constitutes “natural” forest conditions and fire regimes in any forest type. This is surprising, given that the goal of forest restoration is to return forests to conditions that reflect their evolutionary past. Through their precise selection of suitable habitat, plant and animal species carry an abundance of historical information about the environments within which they evolved. Moreover, that evolutionary history is valuable because it runs much deeper than the 100- to 500-year reach of most historical (e.g., fire-scarred tree-ring) studies. The plants and animals featured here are talking through their adaptations about the importance of severe fire on our landscapes; are we listening? Because most have not heard this story, there is considerable public pressure to “salvage” what little remains after severe fire One of the most common management activities following forest fires is salvage logging (Figure 8). Perhaps we need to change our thinking when it comes to logging after forest fires. With respect to birds, no species that is relatively restricted to burned-forest conditions has ever been shown to benefit from salvage harvesting. In fact, most timber-drilling and timbergleaning bird species disappear altogether if a forest

is salvage-logged. Therefore, if we want our land-use decisions to be based, at least in part, on whether a proposed activity affects the ecological integrity of our forest systems, burned forests should be the LAST, rather than the first places we should be going for our wood. For birds, standing dead trees are one of the most special biological attributes of burned forests. They house equally unique beetle larvae that become abundant because they feast on the wood beneath the bark of trees that have died and are, therefore, defenseless against attack. If we value and want to maintain the full variety of organisms with which we share this Earth, we must not only recognize that burned forests are quite “healthy,” but must also begin to recognize that post-fire logging removes the very element — standing dead trees — upon which each of those special bird species depend for nest sites and food resources.


The biological facts are unambiguous and readily apparent to anyone who wants to venture out and look for him or herself, so why do we so often fail to embrace the early successional stages—burned trees and all—that follow stand-replacement fires? There are a number of reasons, but the most important is that the public continues to be told that all fires are bad, which, as I have outlined here, is patently false. Even if the public were to become convinced that severe fires are natural and necessary for ecosystem health, we now have a problem because humans have settled nearly everywhere. That human presence requires fire suppression to be a priority nearly everywhere. Wilderness, parks, and roadless areas are really our primary hope for the maintenance of naturally severe fire regimes, and we are lucky in the Crown of the Continent to have an abundance of such areas along with an abundance of non-wilderness areas far enough removed from the urban interface to allow severe fire to burn naturally.

after fire because the only thing they can see is wastefulness. But there is no waste in nature. Burned forests, even severely burned forests, are forests that have been “restored” in the eyes of numerous plant and animal species and in the eyes of an informed public. The burned trees are essential for maintaining an important part of the biological diversity we value today, and are the foundation for the forests of the future. Fire (and its aftermath) should be seen for what it is: a natural process that creates and maintains much of the variety and biological diversity that we see in the Northern Rockies. The next time you are lucky enough to walk through an intact, severely burned forest, I hope you can now properly recognize it as a beauty mark rather than a scar on our magnificent Crown of the Continent landscape.

Dr. Richard L. Hutto is Professor and Director of the Avian Science Center at the University of Montana in Missoula. Hutto has conducted research on migratory landbirds in Mexico in winter, the Southwest during spring and fall, and in the Northern Rockies in summer for more than 30 years. He developed and continues to supervise the USFS Northern Region Landbird Monitoring Program, which is now in its 20th year of operation, and he has been studying the ecological effects of fire on bird communities for 20 years as well. Dr. Hutto was host of “Birdwatch,” a nationally televised PBS series that ran from 1999-2001. Because he is moved by what birds have to teach us about land stewardship, Hutto established the Avian Science Center on the University of Montana campus to promote ecological awareness and informed decision making through the synthesis and dissemination of science-based information on western birds (


Burned forest habitat is one of nature’s best-kept secrets because the public really hasn’t been told about the magical transformation a forest undergoes after severe fire. And I barely touched on some of the more fascinating stories about plants and animals that are restricted to burned-forest conditions. Being unaware of these stories, people naturally want to harvest trees


Bui l din g a university f or the story by WILL KLACZYNSKI


s important as it is to know the history of the University of Montana in Missoula and the accomplishments that have made this institution what it is today, it is perhaps even more important to know where we are going and how we will get there. Although it is impossible to see into the future, we now have a clear picture of the directions that the university is headed in over the next decade. Outlining these directions in five issues is UM’s Strategic Plan, entitled “UM 2020: Building a University for the Global Century,” which covers every aspect of the university from facilities management to international research. Central to the plan is the concept of the “Global Century,” referring to the fact that we live in a much smaller world where technology has overcome the traditional barriers of geographic and political boundaries that once impeded communication and cooperation across the globe. Now, breakthroughs and discoveries made at places such as UM can impact the world in a way that was once unheard of. This interconnectivity also brings global issues and challenges to light and gives students and faculty at UM the chance to address them head on. Yet, in this global community where the sharing of information and cooperation are so important, there still exists the need to remain competitive and stay ahead of the curve. See next page


UM 2020


photo by Rick & Susie Graetz On the campus of The University of Montana in Missoula – Main Hall



n this sense, UM’s Strategic Plan ensures that UM will be a leading generator of highly-educated scholars and professionals capable of solving complex problems in a way that will benefit communities at the local, national, and global scales. At the heart of the strategic plan is the University of Montana’s mission:

In this global community where the sharing of information and cooperation are so important, there still exists the need to remain competitive and stay ahead of the curve. In this sense, UM’s Strategic Plan ensures that UM will be a leading producer of highlyeducated scholars and professionals...

Will Klaczynski, University of Montana student

The University of Montana pursues academic excellence as demonstrated by the quality of curriculum and instruction, student performance, and faculty professional accomplishments. The University accomplishes this mission, in part, by providing unique educational experiences through the integration of the liberal arts, graduate study, and professional training with international and interdisciplinary emphases. The University also educates competent and humane professionals and informed, ethical, and engaged citizens of local and global communities; and provides basic and applied research, technology transfer, cultural outreach, and service benefiting the local community, region, State, nation and the world. To fulfill this mission and to guide the plan as part of a greater vision for UM, four core values have been emphasized – leadership, engagement, diversity, and sustainability. Leadership refers to the fact that faculty are expected to be leaders in their fields of expertise and graduates are expected to exit the university with the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders at the local, state, regional, national, and international levels. Engagement speaks to the passion students and faculty share regarding discovery, learning, and service and how it can lead to societal and cultural contributions. Diversity involves promoting and embracing the varied social make up of the university community and how it makes UM such a unique place. Sustainability refers to achieving economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability at the university and to showing students how ecological, social, and economic issues are all connected. These four values are what the administration, faculty, and staff members at the university considered when drafting the plan and outlining the five strategic issues that are of greatest concern over the next decade. Each strategic issue comes with a set of objectives, approaches to reaching those objectives, and indicators for success. In addition to the long-term goals in each category, biennial priorities are also put forth. The first strategic issue, Partnering for Student Success, addresses a main responsibility of an institution of higher learning – to help its students succeed academically and personally so they graduate well-prepared for their careers or further education. Though mostly geared towards preparing high school seniors for their transition to college and improving freshmen retention rates, this issue is also focused on giving students all the support they need throughout their college careers and encouraging graduation. Ways to reach this goal include addressing incoming students’ preparedness for college-level work, improving their transition to college during orientation, providing an integrated early curriculum, increasing student engagement in campus life, and emphasizing faculty and staff development in terms of promoting graduation. See next page photo by Todd Goodrich Montana Tech students in the field on a research project




ndicators of success include a growing percentage in firstyear retention (83% by 2020 compared to current 74%), 100% of students declaring a major by their 45th credit hour, and increasing in the availability of need-based financial aid. The second strategic issue, Education for the Global Century, addresses what is being taught at the university and how it is taught to prepare students for the world we live in. This means that two-year programs will provide students with hands-on, practical experience that will prepare them to meet local, regional, national, and global needs. Four-year baccalaureate programs will encourage students to think about how their individual interests and course of study fit into the world as a whole. This kind of interdisciplinary approach will promote internships, hands-on research opportunities, and study abroad experiences to encourage the development of leadership skills for our global society. At the graduate level, programs will encourage students to take advantage of the intellectual and cultural resources that the campus provides in order to become leaders in their own field and society in general. Examples of indicators of success include 90% of doctoral students publishing their work in a peer-reviewed journal or book and 800 students enrolling in the Global Leadership Initiative, which is a program encouraging students to address global questions by interacting with renowned scholars/ leaders and conducting international research. The third strategic issue, Discovery and Creativity to Serve Montana and the World, addresses the amount and relevance of innovative research and creative scholarship that students and faculty produce at the university. The overall objective is to create an atmosphere where discoveries through research and scholarship and creativity through the arts lead to future applications, products and services, inno-


vations, jobs, and business opportunities that will benefit the economy and culture of our state and the rest of the world. Indicators of success include more than doubling external grant funding from $68 million to $140 million by 2020 and an increase in international recognition and awards. The fourth strategic issue, that of a Dynamic Learning Environment, involves enhancing the character of UM as a place that fosters learning, discovery, and growth. This includes recruiting, retaining, and developing the highest quality of students and faculty possible, highlighting the successes of athletic, cultural, and entertainment programs, building and maintaining a sustainable infrastructure that showcases the very best technology and learning facilities, and creating an environment conducive to engagement and positive experiences. Adding to this environment is UM’s campus itself, which is consistently recognized as one of the most attractive in the nation and has as its backdrop one of the most historically, ecologically, and geologically interesting natural settings the country. Indicators of success include having 100% of classrooms and laboratories outfitted with the most up-to-date technology, 100% of students having participated in experiential learning at one point of enrollment, and the campus reaching 100% climate neutrality by 2020. The final strategic issue, the Planning-Assessment Continuum, deals with the plan’s budget, implementation, and assessment. The executive leadership of the university provides the overall mission-driven goals, parameters, and accountability at one end of the continuum, while faculty, staff, and students offer their own ideas, improvements, and action on behalf of the plan and the university. To ensure transparency and that the university is making the best use of its resources, plans and budgets are made

public, and broad-based participation is encouraged through various advisory committees, implementation teams, task forces, focus groups, and town hall style discussions. The strategic plan is constantly being revisited and is evaluated yearly to identify whether or not the university is on track to meet its goals. Indicators of success include having the strategic plan available to the public in its entirety and allocating 70% of the university’s General Funds budget to instruction, academic support, and student services. The dual benefits of this plan, providing students with a world-class education and providing the state of Montana with a highly educated and creative workforce, cannot be understated. By sticking to this strategic plan and incorporating the values of leadership, engagement, diversity, and sustainability that have been repeatedly highlighted through the individual issues, the University of Montana is on track to fulfill its vision and become the driver of economic, cultural, and social development in Montana and the Northern Rockies. For more detailed information or to view UM’s Strategic Plan in its entirety, please visit: Will Klaczynski is a second-year master’s student in the geography program at the University of Montana. Originally from Maryland, he came to Montana in 2005 and graduated four years later with a B.A. in Geography with German as a minor. Over the last six years, he has crisscrossed the country numerous times and made it to all the Lower 48. In addition, he participated in UM’s faculty-led study abroad experience in Vienna, Austria, giving him the opportunity to travel across Western Europe. As an avid hiker and photographer, Will has made it his mission to get out and explore the Crown of the Continent as much as possible and is excited to be part of the university’s effort to enhance the knowledge about this unique region of North America.

photo by Todd Goodrich At The University of Montana Western in Dillon




Marias Pass

n a 250-mile stretch of the Crown of the Continent, from Canada’s Crow’s Nest Pass south to Rogers Pass in Montana, Marias Pass is the only year round crossing of the Continental Divide. And at just 5,213’ above the sea, it is the lowest crossing of the divide in Montana and one of the lowest in the Rocky Mountains. On its north side the fast

rising rock walls of Glacier National Park’s Lewis Range tower above the wide gap of Marias’s east flank. Looking south, lower timbered hills climb slowly towards the higher peaks of the wilderness of the Bob Marshall Country. And pointing in that direction, no other roads are encountered for more than 100 miles. The Marias summit is a

perfect break in the mountain barrier that separates wet warmer Pacific weather of the west from the drier and colder continental climate that the topography east of the divide experiences. When systems are strong, high, warm, dry winds flowing from the west descend through the pass, creating Chinook winds on the Rocky Mountain Front. In win-

ter when frigid arctic outbreaks flow south from the polar regions and submerge the Montana prairie in temperatures well below zero, if the dome of cold air is deep enough, Marias Pass will serve as a conduit for icy winds to carry the cold into Montana west of the Continental Divide. Also in winter northerly See next page


photo by Will Klaczynski LEFT: Looking south from GNP towards the lower hills of the Great bear Wilderness. photo courtesy Dale Jones ABOVER: Clearing the tracks




n a 250-mile stretch of the Crown of the Continent, from Canada’s Crow’s Nest Pass south to Rogers Pass in Montana, Marias Pass is the only year round crossing of the Continental Divide. And at just 5,213’ above the sea, it is the lowest crossing of the divide in Montana and one of the lowest in the Rocky Mountains. On its north side the fast rising rock walls of Glacier National Park’s Lewis Range tower above the wide gap of Maria’s east flank. Looking south, lower timbered hills climb slowly towards the higher peaks of the wilderness of the Bob Marshall Country. And pointing in that direction, no other roads are encountered for more than 100 miles. The Marias summit is a perfect break in the mountain barrier that separates wet warmer Pacific weather of the west from the drier and colder continental climate that the topography east of the divide experiences. When systems are strong, high warm dry winds flowing from the west descend through the pass, creating Chinook winds on the Rocky Mountain Front. In winter when frigid arctic outbreaks flow south from the polar regions and submerge the Montana prairie in temperatures well below zero, if the dome of cold air is deep enough, Marias Pass will serve as a conduit for icy winds to carry the cold into Montana west of the Continental Divide. Also in winter northerly and northeast winds blowing towards the mountains create an upslope condition that, when they are carrying significant moisture, will deposit considerable amounts of snow in the lower elevations but less at the higher altitudes. Marias Pass in these situations can pile up substantial snowfall. The pass holds the Montana record for a single storm, when in January 1972 seventy-seven inches of snow fell. A total of 131 inches was deposited on the pass that month. Long before the European invasion of these parts, indigenous people – the great Native American Nations – knew of this passage across the mountains, and tribes from the west used it frequently to “go to buffalo” on the prairie. Some of the white immigrants who came to Montana heard of this route but knew little about it. Fur traders and others stayed away from the area, fearing the Blackfeet who jealously guarded the lands flowing east of the heights, considering them as their hunting grounds. This area was mapped as early as 1840, and one map produced by historian Robert Greenhow, had noted in the proper place what would become Marias Pass, labeling it “Route across the Mts”. No record exists, however, of him ever traversing the gap; the thought was that Indians and trappers who occasionally ventured there told him of its existence. Finding a way to ascend the pass from the east would have been easy to ascertain in the early 19th photo by Rick & Susie Graetz A BNSF train heads into Marias Pass from the east.



century, but recognizing the trail from the Flathead Valley on the west was another matter. A narrow canyon pointing directly east from Columbia Falls carries the Flathead River’s Middle Fork, and the way up river is precipitous and twisting with several wide side canyons encountered on the way. Travelers then, with no paved road to guide them, could just have easily continued following the Middle Fork well into what is today’s Great Bear Wilderness, getting lost in the process. When thoughts of a transcontinental railroad entered the nation’s plans in the mid 1850’s, attempts were made to find this “mysterious “ pass to establish a northern route. Wrong trails, worries over the Blackfeet and the passage of too much time led to an abandoning of the effort, and tracks for the nation’s first transcontinental railroad eventually met in northern Utah. It wasn’t until 1889 when James Hill, a railroad man from Minnesota, reached Havre, Montana, that serious efforts were made to find a corridor across the Northern Rockies. To accomplish this, Hill hired engineer John F. Stevens. After traveling over 160 miles from Fort Assiniboine to the Blackfeet Agency, Stevens enlisted the services of a Salish man named Coonsah, who had been living with the Blackfeet, to help him locate the elusive pass. On December 11, trudging through heavy snow and braving below-zero temperatures, Stevens walked through a wide gap in the mountains and spent a night west of the Divide. The pass’s exact location, which had been sought for so many decades by various parties, was finally recorded. Just two years later, the first locomotive steamed through Marias Pass, and the history of the Crown of the Continent was forever changed. Today, there is a monument to Stevens on the Divide at Marias Pass along with an interpretive display detailing the geology and history of the area. With the Great Northern Railroad having become history, through mergers and buyouts, the engines of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe now climb through this path that in the not-too-distant past witnessed only native use. And because the geography flanking this historic pass is protected by federal designation, the setting has changed little with time. Will Klaczynski is a University of Montana Masters student and a research assistant with the UM Crown of the Continent Initiative. Rick Graetz is a UM Geography professor and Co-Director of the Crown initiative

photos by Dale Jones BELOW: A freight train begins the descent on the west side of the Continental Divide. RIGHT: A freight train climbs up the west side of Marias Pass.

... the way up river is precipitous and twisting with several wide side canyons encountered on the way. Travelers then, with no paved road to guide them, could just have easily continued following the Middle Fork well into what is today’s Great Bear Wilderness, getting lost in the process.

Rick Graetz

For more photos by Dale Jones, a railroad enthusiast, visit his Website www.railroads-of-montana. com for photos and good information for all who love railroading.



The Rocky Mountain Front

HERITAGE ACT Editor’s Note: In the following section of this issue we want to introduce our readers to some background for and then an outline of what has become known as the proposed “Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act” that Senator Max Baucus introduce in Congress recently. As one will read below, this proposed Act exemplifies the process of hard work, collaboration across different points of view and interests, and the willingness to listen to other perspectives and to compromise when necessary for the sake of

T 62

he Rocky Mountain Front! Here where the tide of the Montana prairie heading towards the sunset collides with the soaring reefs of the Northern Rocky Mountains is a legendary landscape of colossal geography and a wildlife population to match any on the planet! It is legendary because in this sprawling space, almost 100 years ago, folks from every political persuasion and interest joined hands for the sake

moving forward. As case study after case study shows in land disputes in Montana, across the country, and elsewhere, without such collaboration and compromise, contentious disputes and issues of great (or even lesser) importance rarely if ever get resolved. The process that was followed in developing this proposed Act seems to reflect best practices in the kinds of “Conflict Resolution” that students in many disciplines at the University of Montana are exposed to in their courses and special projects.

of conservation to restore wildlife to the Rocky Mountain Front and to what would become the eastern frontier of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. By 1904 the native, wild population had virtually disappeared. What played out here in those earliest years of the 20th century became part of Montana’s proud heritage of placing conservation and the preservation of wildlife amongst our highest priorities. Today, because people have toiled

together for so many years, the RMF has the second largest migratory elk herd in the nation as well as one of the biggest native bighorn sheep and goat populations. Forty-three mammals and at least 100 types of birds call this meeting of the mountains and plains home. It can be said, with the exception of bison, that every species that was here when the Corps of Discovery came up the Missouri in 1805 is still or once again in residence here! And the good work of those years

progresses today. In these times, threats have dictated that more assurances were needed so that wildlife would continue to have the room it needs to thrive. At the same time, if plans were to be considered to expand habitat and wild lands, then the sustainable economic activity of this spectacular topography, as well as other user concerns, needed addressing also. In keeping with the old tradition of collaboration and compromise for the sake of preservation, it

was once more time to roll up sleeves and craft a workable plan. So, as they have done so many times in the past, Montanans from both political parties and many vocations and interests joined to collaborate and design legislation that has become known as The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. What makes it work and supportable is that the planners avoided trying to reach consensus, a process that too often results in little more than gridlock. There are

those on both ends of the political spectrum who don’t support it, to be sure, but it is the kind of well-thoughtout agreement of the majority that is likely to make it succeed and be effective. This kind of collaborative agreement is also one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy. To make the proposal a reality, Montana’s Senior Senator, Max Baucus, a long-time champion of Montana’s outdoor and wildlife traditions, has put his shoulders to the wheel and

agreed to commemorate these efforts and nearly 100 years of cooperation for conservation by introducing legislation, Senate Bill 1774, in the U.S. Congress to create the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Rick Graetz The University of Montana Crown of the Continent Initiative Co-Director




Conservation Management Area

SECTION 1 The title of the Act.

Forest Boundary

Wilderness Addition

Section-by-Section Summary

State Government

T e t o n

Fo rk



M a r s h a l l

Fla th ead Na ti on a l Forest



Standard language that states that maps of the Conservation Management Area and Wilderness additions will be prepared and made publicly available. Requires development within one year’s time of a comprehensive noxious weed management strategy for all Forest Service lands addressed in Sections 3 and 4 plus the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark NF. Consultation with local and tribal government and the interested public is required.

v e r R i

S u n r ve Ri


Deep Creek Addition

Lew i s & C la rk Na ti on a l F orest




Riv er

B o b



Designates wilderness additions to the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness areas totaling approximately 67,112 acres on the Lewis and Clark National Forest. This section includes management language that reiterates Congressional intent that: A Livestock grazing and the maintenance of existing facilities relating to grazing shall continue where this was an established use at the time of designation. B The Forest Service may take any measure needed in Wilderness to control fire, insect and diseases. C No buffer zones are to be created and non wilderness (including overflights) can continue over/adjacent to wilderness areas.



Other Federal Agency



Gibson Reservoir

ON C O. IS & C C O. L A R K





W i l d e r n e s s Fo rk



r R i v e



VEGETATION MANAGEMENT – Vegetation management projects permitted within the Conservation Management Area if allowed by current regulation and policy and consistent with stated purposes for the Conservation Management Area.

Other Ownership


GRAZING – makes clear that grazing will continue where currently established, subject to applicable regulations and policies, and in manner consistent with stated purposes for the Conservation Management Area.

Our Lake Addition






Fla t


ROAD BUILDING – construction of temporary roads for motorized vehicles is permitted to carry out vegetation management projects within ¼ mile of the Teton, South Teton, Sun River, Benchmark or Beaver Willow roads. Temporary roads must be obliterated within three years of project completion.

Local Government



MOTORIZED USE – motorized vehicles shall be permitted where currently designated for use (as of the date of enactment of the Heritage Act). Land management agencies retain discretion to reroute or close a road or trail because of natural resource damage.


National Forest System Lands


MANAGEMENT – makes clear that the Conservation Management Area will be managed consistent with all current laws and regulations and in a manner that furthers the purposes stated for the Conservation Management Area.

Surface Ownership




Existing Wilderness Boundary



PURPOSES – explains that the Conservation Management Area is designed to protect now and for future generations this area’s recreational, scenic, historical, cultural, fish, wildlife, roadless and ecological values. “Recreational” is a broad term that includes hunting, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, bicycling, rock climbing, and many other activities.

West Fork of the Teton Addition

County Boundary

SECTION 2 Defines terms used throughout the legislation. SECTION 3 Establishes the “Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area,” a layer of protection and management direction for 208,160 acres on the Lewis and Clark National Forest and BLM lands on the Front. Developed in collaboration with local ranchers, private landowners, and others, this customized designation is intended to ensure: 1) people can continue to make their livelihood from the land; 2) keep the Front the ‘way it is’ -- allow recreational uses as currently exist but address the threat of future expansion in motorized uses; 3) safeguard the public process. The main parts of Section 3:


t Sou


Patricks Basin Addition Silver King / Falls Creek Addition

Vicinity Map

C o m p l e x

Area of Interest Great Falls Missoula






Lol o Na ti on a l F orest



Billings Cody







Helen a Na ti on a l Forest

This act will establish approximately 208,160 acres of Federal land managed by the USFS and the BLM as the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area, and designate approximately 67,112 acres of land in the Lewis and Clark National Forest as additions to existing components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. All lands are within Lewis and Clark and Teton Counties, Montana References

Map prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, Region 1 Automated Lands Program (ALP) staff, at the request of Senator Baucus, Montana. For more information about this map contact U.S. Forest Service Region 1 ALP Staff. The boundaries of the proposed Conservation Management Area and Wilderness Additions were created by American Wildlands. For more information about the creation of these boundaries please contact American Wildlands. Surface ownership and boundary data within USFS Forest boundaries are from the Region 1 ALP database. Other surface ownership data are from the Montana Cadastral Mapping Project.


Requires the Lewis and Clark National Forest to develop a study, in consultation with mountain bicyclists, within two years, to provide for improved cycling opportunities on the Front.


Clarifies that the State of Montana retains jurisdiction over managing hunting and fishing on the Front.

Sheet 1 of 1 Map Creation Date - 10/19/2011 Map Revision Date - 10/27/2011 Rev. 3


Standard language that authorizes money to be appropriated as necessary to implement this Act.

Author: Will Pedde Path: C:\alp\Projects\LegislativeMaps\RockyMtnFront\RockyMtnFront2011_8x11.mxd


Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Legislative Map, 2011 Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act U.S. Forest Service - Northern Region Lewis and Clark National Forest USDI Bureau of Land Management - Lewistown Field Office Montana At-Large U.S. Congressional District Copies of this map are available for public inspection in the Office of the Regional Forester, Northern Region, Missoula, MT.

20 Miles

DISCLAIMER: The USDA Forest Service makes no warranty, expressed or implied regarding the data displayed on this map, and reserves the right to correct, update, modify, or replace this information without notification.


The Montana Historical Society has recently become an affiliate of The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent Initiative and, as such, will share articles from its highly acclaimed “Montana, The Magazine of Western History” with our Crown E Magazines and other relevant publications. We are very pleased to welcome the MHS as a partner and look forward to what we all anticipate will be a productive and exciting collaboration. Membership in the Society brings a subscription to its magazine as well as other benefits, The MHS Museum in Helena, Montana, is considered one of the finest state historical museums in the nation. If you haven’t had a chance to visit it, it is worth every mile of a trip to Helena to do so. Montana’s history is an exceedingly colorful and tells us a lot about both our past and our present. What you read in the Historical Society’s magazine or see on display in the museum shows, among other things, how closely the state’s history is connected to its geography and diverse landscapes, large pieces of which we also highlight in this “UM Crown E Magazine.”

To become a member of the Montana Historical Society view their website or call 1 800-243 9900



Missoula Montana’s daily newspaper, “The Missoulian,” has permitted us to re-print a number of wonderful articles that originally appeared in the newspaper. We have recently “formalized” our partnership, and “The Missoulian” has become an affiliate of The University of Montana’s Crown of the Continent Initiative. Several of its reporters frequently write feature stories on all of western Montana as well as pieces detailing landscapes, people and issues of the Crown that we are certain are, and will be of interest to our readers. So we are pleased to be able to re-print some of them, as we have in this issue with an article by Rob Chaney, and thereby make them available beyond the newspaper’s usual readership. The “Missoulian’s” on-line edition is excellent and available to anyone who has an internet connection. Here is the website address The editor of the paper is Sherry Devlin. 523-5250.

As we continue this work, we ask for YOUR HELP. We bring this E-Magazine and other publications to you FREE OF CHARGE. Yet, we certainly won’t reject any DONATIONS as large or small as you might consider sending our way to SUPPORT THIS IMPORTANT INITIATIVE. $5, $10, $25 or whatever amount you find you can afford will be put to good use as WE SEEK TO EXPAND our collaborative efforts. You may SEND DONATIONS to University of Montana Foundation Brantley Hall, Missoula, MT 59812, USA, with a notion of “CROWN OF THE CONTINENT INITIATIVE” on your checks.

Crown of the Continent Fall 2011  

An e-magazine produced quarterly by the geography department at the University of Montana about the history, politics, sights and sounds, an...

Crown of the Continent Fall 2011  

An e-magazine produced quarterly by the geography department at the University of Montana about the history, politics, sights and sounds, an...