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MOUNTAIN CAN

COWBOY ETHICS

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FEATURES SECTION: SUBHEAD

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FACING THE WEST WIND By Alex Sakariassen As America’s chasm widens between “us” and “them,” and technology ensures we get more screen time than face time, the country yearns for better connection, better community, better communication. Alex Sakariassen scours Montana and finds that, by Facing the West Wind, we can learn how to better accept one another.

Fall in Grand Teton National Park is a magical time, but often I find myself standing in a line with hundreds of other photographers. One morning, after I finished shooting sunrise at Schwabacher’s Landing, I realized the clouds had parted and it was a crystal-clear day. That, combined with a new moon, meant a sea of stars was upon me. I called a friend to race down from Bozeman to photograph the stars, and once we started we couldn’t stop. This image was taken at around 5 a.m., and we had the whole park to ourselves. PHOTO BY ANDY AUSTIN

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THE PEOPLE OF MARYSVILLE By Jessianne Castle When you toss a dart at the state of Montana, there’s a good chance you’ll discover a trove of secrets in towns comprising the Treasure State. As Jessianne Castle discovers in The People of Marysville, this boomtown glimmers with riches of a different kind.


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THE LITTLE BIG TOWN By Todd Wilkinson Cody, Wyoming, holds fewer than 10,000 people. But the town, founded by “Buffalo Bill” Cody in 1896, stands as a cultural giant with five of the country’s highest-caliber museums, known simply as the “Smithsonians of the West.” Looking into its history, Todd Wilkinson explores the fortune within The Little Big Town.

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OUR UNSEEN OCEANS By Bay Stephens Trace groundwater back to its source and you’ll find an eternal cycle, one where we all play a crucial role. Bay Stephens investigates how Our Unseen Oceans are affected by every move we make—agriculture, development, recreation—and reveals how the cycle begins and ends with us.

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DEPARTMENTS TRAILHEAD

22 Event: The 2019 Tour of Champions Indian Relay Races 23 Visit: Bannack, Montana, is one of 11 visitor-ready ghost towns in Montana 24 Cause: Camp Bullwheel in Ennis, Montana, serves disabled guests, veterans and their families, celebrating the joys of outdoor sporting 24 Record: Hayes Carll’s new album What It Is puts political discourse in sharp relief 25 Reel: Bozeman-based Jordan Albertson’s documentary, Boom: A film about The Sonics, examines the cultural influence of 1960s Seattle rock band The Sonics 24 Read: Myths and Legends of Yellowstone by Mountain Outlaw contributor Ednor Therriault

OUTBOUND GALLERY 28 The intimate connection between Native Americans and grizzly bears

NOW 38 The art of getting along, as cowboys see it 48 Big bulls, bigger bucks 54 Dart Toss: Marysville, Montana

REPORTS 60 Philipsburg Brewing Co.’s quest to cut plastic 64 Maverick Murdock: A 24-year-old, self-taught bladesmith 68 The massive public lands bill that united Congress

GREATER YELLOWSTONE 72 Cody, Wyoming: The little town with big-city culture 80 Yellowstone’s epic battle against lake trout 84 Drink up: Classic Western bars

LAND 90 Groundwater, the unseen treasure we need to pay attention to 100 Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard predicts food can save us all

CULTURE 107 112 116 123

Growing up in Montana #vanlife, aka “rubber tramping” An American icon: the Idaho potato Recipes: Crafted in tradition

GEAR 128 Made in the West: the gear you need for a backyard barbecue

ADVENTURE 135 The Father of Modern Fly Fishing and his quest for redemption

FEATURED OUTLAW 142 Brandi Carlile sets the pace.

It isn’t often that you get lucky enough to find a bald eagle quite as accommodating as this one was. A bonus on our way home from a trip to Yellowstone, there she was, with the Crazy Mountains in the background, looking at me as if to say, “Well it’s about time you arrived. It’s past time for my photo shoot!”  For a good five minutes or so, she posed in every direction, watching me intently all the time, making sure I got each angle and captured her “best side.”   Then, with a last wave of her beautiful wings, she took off on whatever mission she had in mind. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH MOORE


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MOUNTAIN Owned and published in Big Sky, Montana.

Montana at your fingertips Download the new EBS App Culture • Local News • Events

PUBLISHER Eric Ladd EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VP MEDIA Joseph T. O’Connor ASSOCIATE EDITOR Bay Stephens STAFF WRITER, DIGITAL EDITOR Michael Somerby STAFF WRITER, DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR Doug Hare CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Kelsey Dzintars

SALES AND OPERATIONS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Megan Paulson EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SALES AND MARKETING E.J. Daws MEDIA AND EVENTS DIRECTOR Ersin Ozer MEDIA SALES ASSOCIATE Sam Brooks CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER Blythe Beaubien CONTROLLER Becca Burkenpas

LEAD DESIGNER - MEDIA Carie Birkmeier LEAD DESIGNER - MARKETING Marisa Specht SENIOR VIDEO EDITOR Ryan Weaver LEAD VIDEOGRAPHER Jennings Barmore CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bella Butler, Jessianne Castle, Jodi Hausen, Anthony Pavkovich, Rain Bear Stands Last, Alex Sakariassen, Ednor Therriault, Sophie Tsairis, Christine Gianas Weinheimer, Todd Wilkinson, Emily Stifler Wolfe CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS/ARTISTS Andy Austin, Tim Davis, Charles C. Ebbets, Jay Fleming, Michael Gallacher, Bryan Gregson, Jodi Hausen, Neal Herbert, Jeff Johnson, Todd Klassy, Thomas D. Mangelsen, Bill McClure, Wade McMillin, Elizabeth Moore, Dakota Murdock, Annie Marie Musselman, Pete Sales, Dave Shepard, Ann Skelton, Pete Souza, Kene Sperry, Diana Volk, Andy Watson Subscribe now at mtoutlaw.com/subscriptions.

Mountain Outlaw magazine is distributed to subscribers in all 50 states, including contracted placement in resorts across the West, and core distribution in the Northern Rockies including Big Sky and Bozeman, Montana, as well as Jackson, Wyoming, and the four corners of Yellowstone National Park. To advertise, contact Ersin Ozer at ersin@outlaw.partners or Sam Brooks at sam@outlaw.partners OUTLAW PARTNERS & MOUNTAIN OUTLAW P.O. Box 160250, Big Sky, MT 59716 (406) 995-2055 • media@outlaw.partners © 2019 Mountain Outlaw Unauthorized reproduction prohibited CHECK OUT THESE OTHER OUTLAW PUBLICATIONS:

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On the cover: Brandi Carlile, photographed at her home in Maple Valley, Washington on Jan. 2, 2019. PHOTO BY ANNIE MARIE MUSSELMAN

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C O N T E N T B Y L O C AT I O N

HARLEM p. 146

CHOTEAU p. 38 GREAT FALLS p. 129 MISSOULA p. 131

MARYSVILLE p. 54

M O N TA N A

PHILIPSBURG p. 60 BUTTE p. 131

BANNACK p. 23

ENNIS p. 24

BOZEMAN p. 64, 84, 90, 125, 131 LIVINGSTON p. 84,130,135

BIG SKY p. 24,107, 123,124

ISLAND PARK p. 85

CODY p. 72, 86 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

IDAHO

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

p. 8

F E AT U R E D CONTRIBUTORS

JACKSON p. 85, 130

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ANDY AUSTIN (p. 8 and 68) is a Bozeman-based adventurer and travel photographer who grew up in the mountains and plains of Montana. After attending Montana State University, where he played football and earned a degree in psychology, he traded his football helmet for a camera and now spends much of his time traveling the world.

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p. 28, 68, 80

WYOMING CASPER p. 130

With camera in hand since childhood, Belt, Montana-based, ELIZABETH MOORE has developed her craft over a lifetime. Her focus is wildlife, and recognizing that every creature has a personality, she does her best to capture it. When she’s not running the gift shop or fundraising for the Lewis & Clark Foundation, most of the time you’ll find her somewhere with the critters, camera in hand. (p. 10)


F RO M T H E E D I T O R

On the Road In 1967, journalist Charles Kuralt set out to discover America, driving an old motor home along the country’s backroads and drawing inspiration from John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Convinced that you could close your eyes, place a finger on the map of America and find a compelling narrative, Kuralt regularly unearthed small towns inhabited by ordinary people—but often with extraordinary stories to tell. “The reality of any place is what its people remember of it,” he once quipped. CBS aired the first episode of “On the Road” that year. I returned to Montana this winter after a two-year hiatus in Boston, Massachusetts, and on the drive with my dog Covey, U-Haul in tow, I reread Travels with Charley, excited to be heading back to this magazine, this team, this state. When I first glimpsed the craggy peaks of the Absaroka Range, I felt at home. “Montana is a great splash of grandeur,” Steinbeck wrote. “The mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were put on my agenda.” In putting this issue of Mountain Outlaw together, the team sought a fresh connection with readers and decided to make this the “community” edition. We planned features about museums and small Montana towns where people still smile at each other and shake hands; to answer questions about why we’re at odds with each other in this country and why screen time has effectively sidelined the crucial one-on-one conversations that were once commonplace and ubiquitous. We wanted to highlight, too, family roots, children and heritage; to connect with readers over our shared values and

Legendary nature photographer THOMAS D. MANGELSEN (Outbound Gallery, p. 28) has traveled throughout the natural world for more than 40 years, observing and photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. Mangelsen, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has been photographing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for 30 years.

pastimes—economics and agriculture and recreation— writ large across the Intermountain West and the country. Our plan also included a tradition, one tracing back to Kuralt and his quest for the American story. Tossing a dart at a map of Montana, the third dart toss we’ve now featured in Mountain Outlaw, writer Jessianne Castle pinned Marysville, a town with a population just shy of 80. She found a fascinating history of a boomtown-gone-bust, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We knew with certainty then: a community is only as strong as its people and their stories. In these pages, we celebrate the ordinary and extraordinary folks who make up American communities. We focus on those in the Greater Yellowstone, but know that in this country today, we all must look beyond the chasm dividing our beliefs for our countless commonalities. This fissure has two sides and one cannot exist without the other along with deliberate measures of empathy and cooperation. This edition is dedicated to those differences and to a mutual appreciation shared between neighbors.

Joseph T. O’Connor Editor-in-Chief joe@theoutlawpartners.com

Freelance writer ALEX SAKARIASSEN (Facing the West Wind, p. 38) has spent the past decade penning long-form narrative stories that spotlight the people, the politics and the wilds of Montana. A North Dakota native, he splits his time between Missoula’s ski slopes and the quiet trout waters of the Rocky Mountain Front.

A student of journalism and environmental studies at the University of Montana, BELLA BUTLER (Know Your Roots, p. 107) was raised in Big Sky where she spent much of her time in the high country, whether on a snowboard, ropes, or on foot. She hopes one day to build a career out of her love for the outdoors and her passion for writing.

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TRAILHEAD EVENT

2019 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS INDIAN RELAY RACES Carrying a legacy of supreme horsemanship, which invokes tremendous pride and spirituality among Native American peoples, the sport of Indian Relay consists of bareback horse racing at breakneck speeds. And some events require a footrace before leaping onto the back of an awaiting steed. An electrifying combination of athleticism, courage and tradition, the Indian Relay attracts teams from seven different tribal nations from the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, and from the western provinces of Canada. “The Indian Relay takes youth and gives them something to do off reservations, making a tremendous difference for the tribes,” said Diana Volks, official Horse Nations Indian Relay Council board member and photographer. “It has become a life for them, keeping them away from drugs and alcohol through a focus on the sport. … The little ones look up to the racers.” The 2019 season is comprised of 15 separate events held in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Washington and Oregon. – Michael Somerby

PHOTOS BY DIANA VOLK

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PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

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VISIT BANNACK: A MONTANA GHOST TOWN Bannack, Montana, is one of 12 tourist-ready ghost towns around the state, primed for an eerie stroll through history. The Montana Territory’s first capital and named after neighboring Native Americans, Bannack was a mining boomtown following a major gold discovery in nearby Grasshopper Creek in 1862. At its peak, Bannack was home to about 3,000 residents and had a reputation as a town of outlaws, vigilantes and violence. Its sheriff, one Henry Plummer, was allegedly responsible for more

than 100 murders and was eventually hanged from his own gallows. Like many a boomtown, the dwindling supply of gold that once spurred Bannack’s rapid growth contributed to its ultimate demise. By the 1970s, the town was empty, save the occasional passing tumbleweed. Today, you can visit Bannack State Park and explore the more than 50 buildings lining Main Street, frozen in time. Ghost walks near Halloween offer a chance to visit with spirits of yesteryear. – M.S.

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CAUSE RECORD

CAMP BULLWHEEL Frank Bell and Peter Pauwels had a vision: Bring the wonders of Montana’s outdoor activities to the disabled, with a focus on float fishing. The dream took form in September of 2017, when the two men assembled a group of 11 like-minded individuals, each bringing a specific set of skills and expertise, to devise a plan of action. Following the speedy retrofit of Bell’s Ennis, Montana, rental house, the inaugural Camp Bullwheel launched in June 2018, hosting the first disabled guests and their families. The initiative was a resounding success, spanning 12 weeks over the summer. Serving paraplegics and quadriplegics, along with participants with a range of other disabilities, and veterans, the Camp Bullwheel team brings the joy of the outdoors to their guests using specially rigged equipment and adaptive casting devices. While some were born with a disability, the majority suffered injuries later in life; the program gives these individuals a second chance at a relationship with outdoor sports. “Most of our guests … were already sportsmen, but had a bad shot at life,” Bell says. “So much of this is due to my friend Peter [Pauwels].” For more than 25 years, Pauwels has volunteered at Denver’s Craig Hospital, which specializes in spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. “He’s truly one of the most selfless people I know,” Bell says. Along with Bell and Pauwells, Camp Bullwheel’s core team includes Chris Clasby, who was left a quadriplegic at 18 after suffering a broken neck in a car accident; Jackie Kirtley, an Ennis-native born with cerebral palsy; and Tom Riggs, an Ennis transplant with a mission to give back. – M.S.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMP BULLWHEEL

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RECORD HAYES CARLL: WHAT IT IS Texas-native Hayes Carll’s approach to political discourse, one marked by an unassuming, shouldershrugging easiness, lends itself well to the creeping impact of the singer-songwriter’s sixth album, What It Is. In a time rife with unrest and hate, Carll wryly unpacks several of the preeminent social woes of American culture, including an unwillingness to accept differences and change through the song “Wild Pointy Finger”; a backlash to the perception of eroding white relevance in “Fragile Men”; and a sense that our stability is spiraling out of control under abusive power figures on the track “Times Like These.” The meaning behind the album’s name slowly reveals itself with each new song, through a mounting force of sarcasm and deadpan delivery that ultimately leaves the listener feeling empowered and refreshed. The 2016 Grammy Award nominee will take the stage at this year’s Music In the Mountains event in Big Sky, Montana, on July 25. – M.S.

PHOTO BY DAVID MCCLISTER

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REEL BOOM: A FILM ABOUT THE SONICS (2018) Produced and directed by Jordan Albertsen, BOOM: A film about The Sonics dissects a critical moment in the Seattle-area rock ‘n’ roll scene: when producer Buck Ormsby of The Fabulous Wailers discovered and cultivated The Sonics, a band whose sound Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready once affectionately called, “dangerous.” The Sonics formed in Tacoma, Washington, in 1963, releasing three albums over the decade before ultimately parting ways. By then leading “normal” lives, the band was making a splash across the globe, deeply influencing the punk, garage and metal genres. BOOM has pocketed several awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Lone Star Film Festival and 2019 Silk Road Film Festival in Dublin, Ireland. “I spent 10 years of my life making this,” said Albertsen, who also wrote and edited the film. “I don’t even know what my life would be like if I hadn’t.” BOOM is currently touring on the film festival circuit, and a worldwide release is slotted for early 2020. Visit facebook.com/ sonicsfilm for a full list of festival appearances. – M.S.

READ MYTHS & LEGENDS OF YELLOWSTONE: THE TRUE STORIES BEHIND HISTORY’S MYSTERIES Missoula-based author Ednor Therriault has written about the oddities and quirks in his home state from Alzada to the Yaak Valley. His latest book combines his talents as an historian, journalist and humorist to reexamine the lore behind America’s first national park. Yellowstone’s exotic landscapes— the whimsical geological formations, effervescent geysers and spellbinding hot springs—provide fertile ground for legends about the events that took place within its borders. After debunking the Campfire Origin Myth from 1870, the book picks up steam. What is the mysterious music emanating from Yellowstone Lake? Does

Bigfoot live in the park? Why have so many visitors reported seeing the ghosts at Old Faithful Inn? Did the Sheepeater people discover Obsidian Cliff 12,000 years ago? The mysteries of Yellowstone, from rogue bears to scofflaws and opportunists, illuminate the role that our imaginations play in the narratives we tell ourselves. Therriault’s short episodes are eminently readable, filled with an appreciation of mythology despite dispelling some of the most far-fetched tales from America’s “Wonderland.” Myths & Legends is intriguing and witty, informative and fascinating for even the biggest Yellowstone aficionado. – Doug Hare

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A NATI VE With a small blade of grass in the corner of her mouth, this young grizzly, nicknamed “Blondie” because of her light guard hairs, takes a break from grazing to survey the meadow along Pilgrim Creek. Though grizzlies’ eyes are small relative to their body size and somewhat secondary to their sense of smell and hearing, this young bear, recently on her own, will have to rely on all her senses and remember lessons learned from her mother to survive. When you look into the eyes of this bruin, one can’t help feeling the intelligence, spirit, wonder and wildness in her eyes. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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Cassie Weed of the Eastern Shoshone based in Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation, was featured in the short film, Not in Our Name, directed by Rain and produced by Alter-Native. PHOTO BY RAIN/ALTER-NATIVE MEDIA

C O NNE C T I O N “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” – Jane Goodall Nearly all Native American tribes in the U.S. and Canada consider the grizzly bear a sacred healer and spiritual guide. They have celebrated grizzlies in art, jewelry, in ceremonial bear dances and in prayer for hundreds of generations. In 2016, more than 200 U.S. and Canadian tribes signed a grizzly bear treaty to protect the species, the first of its kind in more than 150 years. The following year, the federal government delisted the grizzly from the Endangered Species List and several tribes sued over the decision.

Now, on the heels of a 2018 federal ruling that relisted the grizzly bear, some state agencies are pushing for grizzlies to be removed yet again in favor of a bear hunt. For the Outbound Gallery, Mountain Outlaw teamed with renowned wildlife photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen and tribal leaders to honor the sacred connection between the native peoples and the iconic grizzly bear. – The Editors M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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GOAL Chairman Dr. David Bearbow Bearshield of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes stands tall at sacred Bear Butte in South Dakota. PHOTO BY RAIN/ALTER-NATIVE MEDIA

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The grizzly is the first two-legged placed upon the earth. The grizzly is considered to be an ancestor, a grandparent, a teacher of healing and curing. The grizzly is integral to creation narratives, ceremonies and practices. These narratives to traditional tribal people are the equivalent of scripture.” - Dr. David Bearbow Bearshield, Chairman - GOAL Tribal Coalition

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OUTBOUND

G A L L E RY Upon closer observation, a sage-covered hillside along Dunraven Pass reveals every visitor’s dream sighting in Yellowstone National Park: a mother grizzly bear with newborn cubs. While nursing sustains the new additions, the mother bear’s attention is captured by a herd of elk moving across the landscape. In spring, this land is alive with new life, from wildflowers, rosy finches and white-crowned sparrows to wolf and coyote pups, elk calves and the flight of a pair of sandhill cranes breaking the horizon as they return to nest on nearby beaver ponds. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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G A L L E RY Famed grizzly bear 399 and her cub complete a high-water crossing in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. PHOTO BY THOMAS D. MANGELSEN

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Wildness, intelligence, sentience and their importance to a healthy ecosystem are the things I think about when I observe and photograph these magnificent animals. My experience of grizzlies returning to the Tetons after decades of persecution is one of the highlights of my life. - Photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen

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The grizzly bear is sacred to our people, and has been since time immemorial. -Crawford White Eagle

Crawford White Eagle, Northern Arapaho Elders Society Spiritual Leader, stands in full headdress below the Wind River Mountains. PHOTO BY RAIN/ ALTER-NATIVE MEDIA

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Laura Grizzlypaws is a Grizzly Bear dancer of St’át’imc descent. The creative metaphorical relationship of the spirit of the bear to Laura Grizzlypaws expresses the art of walking in two worlds and balancing the physical with the spiritual. PHOTO BY MAGGI WOO

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I walked where the grizzly bear dances. I feel his pleasure, excitement and freedom on the earth and in the wind that carries his messages from the past. I dance where the grizzly bear danced, his steps leaving an ancestral footprint on the land like a cellular memory in my blood. -Laura Grizzlypaws


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Three cowboys head out to round up cattle near Cleveland, Montana. PHOTO BY TODD KLASSY

FACING THE FACING THE

W H AT M O N T A N A’ S C O W B OY C O U N T RY C A N TEACH US ABOUT GETTING ALONG BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

S N OW D R I F T S S T I LL DOT T HE HI LLS and gullies along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front in early April, their ends tapering off to the southeast in a lingering nod to the fierce west wind that’s scoured the region for months. A herd of black cows drifts over the landscape like a hopeful nation awaiting greener pastures. Mud season’s relentless rains hover around the corner, and beyond them, a dry summer that farmers and ranchers hope will strike a balance. This is the kind of country that breeds tough people, tough families whose surnames blew in generations ago and held fast like tumbleweeds on a barbed wire fence. Hard work is as deeply coded in their genes as the land beneath their feet. And while outsiders might see a raw and gritty living, folks on the Front simply call it life. >>

PHOTO BY KIRSTIE LAMBERT


REPORTS / P. 00 BUSINESS OF BULLS / P. 48 DART TOSS / P. 54

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R E A LITY CAN B E unrelenting here, but there’s warmth enough to thaw the soul. People linger in grocery store aisles or at gas station counters chatting with old friends. Passing motorists on the highway raise a hand from pickup truck steering wheels in a friendly wave. Strangers nod and smile to one another, occasionally going the extra mile to voice a cordial greeting. That such open affability exists anywhere today is just shy of a miracle. Devices designed to increase our connectivity command more and more of our attention as we check our phones, on average, almost 50 times a day. Those who do succeed in keeping their eyes from drifting screenward at the bar or coffee shop face a world where the chasm between political parties has widened by the day, leaving communities and families riven. A changing world gives little quarter, even in ranch country. Yet this is where James P. Owen, a lifelong denizen of Wall Street, turned for answers when he stepped down from the national stage. He explained his rationale in the 2015 book Cowboy Ethics, that there’s much to learn from how cowboys carry themselves in everyday life. They do so, Owen wrote, with genuine humility, quiet confidence and authenticity — traits that seem all but lost in an era of curated social media accounts and career politics. Owen may not have lived the cowboy life himself, but spend a little time around those closest to the land and you’ll find the point bears out. With our nation looking about as battered and windswept as a Montana winter, perhaps it’s time we learn from those who have survived a couple. ---

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Choteau rancher and outfitter Dusty Crary still works the land his great-grandparents settled on in the mid-1920s. While his hometown hasn’t wholly evaded the troubles plaguing the nation it pervades, Crary says, “because it’s still in us.” PHOTOS BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

T HI CK, HE AVY M U D

mixed with crumbled cow pies tugs at Dusty Crary’s muck boots as he strolls through the corral near his front yard west of Choteau. The rancher jerks open the door of an old wooden barn and enters to check on a heifer yet to calve. She lows in greeting, but one look tells Crary she’s not quite ready to yield. The Crarys have worked this ranch since the mid-1920s, when Dusty’s great-grandparents blew into Choteau from Iowa by way of North Dakota. They weren’t full-time cattlepunchers, though. His great-grandfather, E.J., had a dental practice in town. Emily, his great-grandmother, realized a dream by opening the town’s first movie theater, the Royal. For them, the ranch was more an excuse to stay close to the mountains where the hunting and fishing were good and you could drink whiskey at the Empty Jug cabin during Prohibition. The place was mostly run by hired men until Dusty’s father, Doug, took up the reins in the 1950s. Dusty’s the first male Crary actually born and raised on the ranch, which generation-wise, he quips, makes him “kinda fourth and first.” “I should’ve got a business degree or finance degree. Would’ve been more helpful,” Crary says. “I might have been able to excel at some other trade or craft, but I just never thought about doing anything else.” Crary emits a kind of humility that’s in short supply these days — the kind that James P. Owen contends makes real cowboys. He’s affable, talkative, with a calming drawl and no apparent capacity for bragging. He feels deeply connected to the mountains on his western horizon, where he spends the bulk of his summers guiding pack trips through his outfitting business, the 7 Lazy P. When a coalition of locals took shape in the early 2000s to safeguard the status quo along this chunk of the Front, Crary fought for grazing rights and environmental protections alike. It was an eclectic mix of ranchers, farmers, outfitters and wildland advocates, and together they drafted a plan that Sen. Jon Tester later introduced to Congress as the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Passed in late 2014, the agreement added more than 67,000 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness while maintaining long-standing grazing practices along the edge of the Rockies. Some outside the coalition balked at blocking mineral exploration. Others criticized the deal for not including more big “W” wilderness. To this day, Crary says, there are still folks in Choteau who won’t hardly speak to him over his involvement. But he never saw the hard-liners on the Heritage Act as bad people. Crary’s just not an “I’m right and he’s wrong” kind of guy, and the volume of his voice rises when he talks about how much people, nationally, treat ideology as gospel.

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“The hatred and the vitriol is just amazing to me,” he says. “And none of those power brokers right or left deserve that kind of loyalty and blind subservience from any of us. They owe that to us.” Choteau is a red seat in a red county; President Trump carried Teton County by 1,362 votes in 2016, compared to the 212-vote lead commanded by incumbent George H. W. Bush in 1992. Yet, despite going so hard for a man who has divided so many, people here still treat outsiders and each other with a quiet, polite respect. Choteau’s a small town, Crary says, noting that the population hasn’t budged much since his family first arrived. He doubts the safe and friendly vibe that persists in Choteau results from any special sauce beyond that; certainly not from any unique brand of humanity, he adds, wrapping his hometown in a cloak of modesty. Cruise an hour up the Front on Highway 89, dog right past the Kingsbury Hutterite Colony, and you’ll find that not much has changed in Valier, Montana, either. Not at least since farmer and rancher Gene Curry’s father hitchhiked north from the Musselshell in the late ’30s to help on his brother-in-law’s farm. The family name still hangs on the side of the grocery store, which Curry’s parents bought from the local co-op in the early ’50s, which Curry’s sister bought from them, and which Curry’s daughter now owns. On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, Curry grinds away with an excavator lifting a pair of rusted cattle guards and digging away the dirt and frost beneath with surgical precision. He’s got a narrow window for the work. He shares a driveway with the town dump, and the town dump is closed on Tuesdays. “I always thought I’d rather outthink ’em,” Curry says with a playful grin, his long Carhartt-clad legs dangling from his truck’s tailgate. “That’s been my challenge to myself whenever there’s a confrontational situation, because emotions get

“FOLKS HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WORKING WITH FOLKS IN RURAL COMMUNITIES ... REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A BIND, YOU NEED YOUR NEIGHBORS.”

ahead of your brain most of the time. If you can control your emotions, you can keep your brain functioning fairly well.” Emotion too often wins out in political discourse today. It’s sparked violent scenes at campaign events and in social media fights too numerous to count. Republicans chastised Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., for a fiery outburst over the government shutdown earlier this year. And when one of Trump’s own supporters mailed pipe bombs to Trump critics in 2018, the president laid the blame on journalists via a Twitter feed followed by nearly 60 million people. Like Crary, Curry’s grounded by a humble, live-and-let-live nature. He was raised to treat others as he’d like to be treated, and no one likes to be yelled at or degraded or belittled, he says. He grew up tough, got his hands caught in the belt of a hay baler west of Browning at age nine but not so bad he can’t still use them. He’s known tough times, too, like when the stock market crash of ’73 dragged beef prices into the ditch and he entered the trucking business to keep his family afloat. But while he’s always kept a cool head, he’s had plenty of opportunities not to. During the 2015 Montana Legislature, as president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Curry noted the animosity toward the state Department of Livestock stemming from a host of administrative and fiscal problems. He worked hard post-session with a bipartisan group of leaders from various ag organizations to craft recommendations for the Montana livestock board. Curry presented them and by 2017 they managed to get the

Gene Curry’s father hitchhiked to Valier in the 1930s to lend a hand on his brother-in-law’s farm. Today, Curry carries on his family’s farmand-ranch tradition, and leans on the old credo of treating others as he’d like to be treated. PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

department’s budget through in good shape. “I try to offer solutions,” Curry says, trying not to take too much of the credit. “When I was going to those board of livestock meetings, I had no vote. I had no reason to be there other than trying to help, for myself and for the Montana stockgrowers and livestock producers in general.” As much stock as some people put in political allegiance these days, Curry’s not sure he could tell you who anyone in Valier voted for, besides his close friends. He doesn’t really care. He could walk into the local Panther Cafe and, with few exceptions, sit down next to anyone and gab for half an hour over coffee. Like Crary, he chalks it up in large part to size. Folks have to think about working with folks in rural communities, he says. Republican or Democrat, if you find yourself in a bind, you need your neighbors. >>

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waters of the Clark Fork heave against a grassy bank west of Frenchtown, fed by yet another spring squall that’s two-parts rain, one-part snow. A fence crew wades through the gumbo outside Joe Boyer’s log cabin before calling it quits around noon. Inside, Boyer nurses a busted-up ankle amid dozens of mounted deer racks, stuffed waterfowl and the soft white pelt of a wolf shot in northern Canada. He laughs with a deep, wet rattle as he talks about the old days out here. The days before Smurfit Stone’s pulp mill went up in 1957, before the subdivisions that followed. The days when he’d work the farm with his old man, when he’d trap

style confidence, the byproduct of deep roots in the Missoula Valley. His great-grandparents came to Frenchtown from Quebec in 1863 and, after two years working a local sawmill, bought a ranch west of town. They continued ranching the same spread through the generations, doing whatever they could to scratch out a living. Boyer’s father would sell milk on contract to the community creamery, and head south into the mountains to mine gold. All the money got poured back into the ranch. Boyer’s father and mother, who are both buried on their spread, reared him to take care of the land, own up to mistakes and not ask why in the face of hard work. When it came time to pick up the family torch, Boyer didn’t know anything else. “YOU DON’T REALLY OWN THE LAND. YOU’RE JUST HERE TAKING CARE OF IT.”

Roots run deep for Joe Boyer’s family, and he’s fought to safeguard the ranch west of Frenchtown that his great-grandparents established in the 1860s. Boyer’s secret to keeping a civil tongue? Just don’t talk religion or politics. PHOTO BY MICHAEL GALLACHER

mink and muskrats for his money, when he worked a grader on the Ninemile for $1.99 a day under the foremanship of a young Dennis Washington. You want to talk change? Boyer will talk change. “In that stretch from Mill Creek to Six Mile, there was maybe half a dozen people, and they were farmers,” he says. “You could always get along, work something out. There was no big problems. But when the people moved in: bang. That was the end.” Boyer’s friendly, no-nonsense manner bubbles up from a wellspring of cowboy-

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The Boyer Ranch, at more than 1,200 acres, is one of the largest remaining family ranches in the Missoula area. These days Boyer leases the operation out, but his familiarity with the land and its wildlife still nourishes a quiet confidence in the way things work. Boyer’s fought tooth and nail to protect it, too, despite a population increase that’s already altered his corner of the world. With the help of Five Valleys Land Trust and others, Boyer put more than 800 of the ranch’s acres under conservation easement between 2009 and 2012. He did so, he says, knowing that his death could have led to a cherished place getting cut up at the expense of wildlife. “You don’t really own the land. You’re just here taking care of it,” Boyer says. “I don’t think I could stand to see houses all over them ranches over there. I wouldn’t want to see it.” When it comes to confrontation, Boyer sees little to gain from engaging. He recalls one night at Charlie B’s, the longtime watering hole in downtown Missoula,

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when two University of Montana students working on a thesis about wolves approached the seasoned rancher. The way he figures, they were looking to set a trap for him, saying he must hate wolves for the threat they pose to cattle. Boyer “outfoxed ’em,” turning the talk to wolves driving out the coyotes and foxes that kept his gopher woes in check. Most of the time, however, Boyer adheres to a rule of not discussing religion or politics. Better to focus on what unites us than run the risk of arguing. “You ever known anyone that’s won a battle talking about that?” he says. “It’s a waste of time … That’s the way I look at it.” A CLUSTER OF LOW

log cabins sprouts from the earth above the Big Blackfoot River, not far from where the colder rushes of the Clearwater empty out on either side of a tall crag of rock. The cabins surround a two-story log lodge with wings that end in half-hipped roofs. The lodge went up during the Depression, Juanita Vero explains, to replace the one that burned. Vero grew up on the E Bar L Ranch, a dude ranch that didn’t exactly start out as such. Her great-grandfather first came through the area in the early 1900s as an MIT-bred engineer and surveyor for the Northern Pacific Railroad. After meeting and marrying in Seattle, he gave Vero’s great-grandmother a choice: settle in western Montana, or travel to the Middle East on another rail job. They chose Montana. Through two world wars, one Great Depression and numerous decades since, Vero’s family has catered to outsiders thirsty for a taste of Western life. They still don’t advertise, Vero says. They don’t even have a website, instead letting their guest lists fill up with personal referrals and families who have been coming to the E Bar L for generations. “There’s something about the place that holds us all together,” Vero says. “We definitely don’t all agree on things and have widely divergent political views. But man, we’re all here for this one mission.” Vero is vibrant, funny, her soft eyes and dark complexion a reflection to her Filipino father Louie Vero, who was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame last


NOW: WEST WIND

year. She’s connected to this place, resting in her great-grandmother’s old cabin as she tells tales of riding her horse to the oneroom schoolhouse in Greenough or getting picked up by her mother by way of dogsled. The tone and cadence of her speech radiate self-assurance, and her words testify to an open-mindedness that stems from her lifelong exposure to people from around the globe. Here on the E Bar L, the days are too short, too busy for petty ideological squabbles to take root. Guests are up at dawn for breakfast, on horseback for hours, whisked away on a Blackfoot float and hurried back to dinner. Ranch hands have more work to do than daylight hours. But Vero realizes that the outside world is a nation divided and distracted. In discussing those ills, she cuts to the heart of Montana-ness with a single word: authenticity. “You’ve gotta be real,” she says, “because then you’re trustworthy. If you’re not who you are and you don’t trust yourself, then how can other people trust you?”

Technology may very well be eroding our sense of self. Psychologists now posit that, beyond mere social distraction, smartphones constitute a real threat to our capacity for empathy. In 2017, researchers with Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group focused on children and technology, found that kids under 8 years “YOU’VE GOTTA BE REAL,” SHE SAYS, “BECAUSE THEN YOU’RE TRUSTWORTHY. IF YOU’RE NOT WHO YOU ARE AND YOU DON’T TRUST YOURSELF, THEN HOW CAN OTHER PEOPLE TRUST YOU?”

old spend on average 48 minutes a day on mobile devices. Four years prior, that number was 15 minutes. The outdoors can be a balm. A 2014 study published in the academic journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that after five days camping without phones or laptops, several dozen sixthgraders were more adept at identifying emotions and reading facial expressions.

Turns out a few days of quiet reflection in the woods makes us far better at connecting with others. If ranch kids have any leg up in the authenticity department, Vero gives all the credit to horses. To truly get along with these animals, you can’t bluff your way around them. As Western horse clinician Ray Hunt wrote in his book Think Harmony With Horses — a copy of which floats on Vero’s bookshelf — “… there’s a way to communicate. We can learn to understand one another if we listen to one another, if we respect one another’s thoughts.” You have to be true with a horse, and you can’t read deceit into a horse’s actions because that doesn’t exist. “Horses are a fantastic mirror,” Vero says. “We see it all the time here on the ranch when we have people who don’t get to spend time with horses. They come here and spend a week with us, it’s like you’re watching someone on the therapist’s couch. We spend four hours a day riding with them and they learn a lot about themselves; you learn a lot about them.”>>

Vero’s morning routine in the corral, the start of a long, busy day. PHOTO BY BILL MCCLURE


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Despite the rigors of Congress, Sen. Jon Tester continues to work the Big Sandy farm his grandparents homesteaded in the 1910s. PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

FA M I LY FOR A M A N W HO R E V IL E S dysfunction as much as he says, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has made a go at applying Montana horse sense in the halls of Congress. In some cases he’s found handshakes that were worth a damn, like the one he exchanged with Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Republican who has chaired opposite him on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 2017. They agreed not to blast each other, to have each other’s backs, to “disagree without being disagreeable.” “That ended up in one of the most productive sessions ever for [that committee],” Tester says, “and it’s because we sat down in the same room, eyeball to eyeball, shook hands going in and shook hands going out.” That Trump trumpeted those bills during Montana junkets in 2018 while trashing Tester still doesn’t sit well with the Farmer From Big Sandy. But a lifetime of hot-andgritty farmwork builds a thick hide, and Tester still relies on his rural roots to keep himself grounded. “I bump my head on the frame of the tractor, the tractor don’t give a damn if I’m a U.S. Senator.” It’s tempting to fetishize the West’s rural communities as some final stronghold of geniality and downhome decency. We forget that the political faults plaguing our nation, as well as the foot-out-the-door nature of modern conversation, runs downstream with the inevitability of spring runoff. As Crary puts it, Choteau isn’t Mayberry. Kids still walk around with two thumbs on their phones. There is, however, a frankness in Montana, in the West, a lingering if unspoken desire to connect with one another. Some may opt to do so only within a zone of comfort. Others may lay themselves bare and find compromise where they can. If the Treasure State’s rural roots stand to teach us anything, it’s that identity is the byproduct of place and hands-on experience. The West wind can shift our collective mindset. We just need to be brave and vulnerable enough to let it blow over us.

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The Life of Bucking Bulls BY DOUG HARE

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NOW

Left: Jose Vitor Leme rides Dakota Rodeo/ Julie Rosen/Clay Struve/Chad Berger’s Smooth Operator for 92.5 during the 15/15 Bucking Battle round of the 2019 Columbus PBR Unleash the Beast. PHOTO BY ANDY WATSON

Right: Eight-time PBR Contractor of the Year Chad Berger in his element as he tends to his bulls before the PBR Billings Invitational. PHOTO BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

ome bulls are bred to buck, that is, to drop, kick and spin in an erratic manner that makes it hard as hell to ride them for eight seconds. The cowboys who attempt to ride them are still being bred the old-fashioned way. North Dakota-native Chad Berger would know. After a storied rodeo career, Berger says he “found his passion” raising bucking bulls and has since gone on to become the eight-time PBR Stock Contractor of the Year. In our conversations over a three-day bull riding event in Billings, Montana last April, Berger is laconic and soft-spoken, but candid about what goes into raising a successful bucking bull. Former-PBR-athlete-turned-contractor Cord McCoy would know a thing or two as well. While he considers Chad Berger Bucking Bulls to be like the Yankees and his own operation to be more like a farm team, he is already producing bulls like 51 Viper, whose bucking ability as a three-year-old could command a sixfigure price if he sold to the highest bidder. Berger, whose father was a rancher who raised bulls himself, has about 350 crossbred Brahman bulls split between his ranches in Mandan, North Dakota and Henrietta, Oklahoma, where the milder climate makes for easier calving and a better locale to winter his cattle. Between 150 and 200 of them are mature enough to compete in top-tier events nationwide. Like McCoy, in his younger days Berger competed in every rodeo event there is. When asked about the difference between bull riding and saddle bronc riding, he cracks a wry smile and says he should have concentrated more on saddle bronc riding because he could have had a longer career. “Bronc riding is more about figuring out the timing. Bull riding is different; it’s harder on the body.”>>

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“Some of the best bucking bulls have the calmest demeanor, It’s not about how agitated they get, it’s really about if they can perform under pressure, just like the cowboys.” - Cord McCoy

n 1992, 20 bull riders ponied up $1,000 each in order to split from the traditional rodeo circuit and form the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. as a standalone circuit. Ever since then, the most extreme Western sport has been gaining more attention and more fans—both for its cowboys and for its bovine athletes. Today the most dominant bulls in the PBR have their own fan clubs. At PBR events you can buy stuffed animals, trinkets and tokens of your favorite bull. One of those infamous bulls, nine-year-old Smooth Operator, is one of Berger’s rankest and is a contender to win a World Champion title even in his relatively old age. Most bulls come into their prime bucking conditions during their fourth and fifth years, Smooth Operator being twice that age. Before the first night of competition, PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen, unprompted, tells me the bull he most wants to see buck is Smooth Operator. “I think he caught a second wind if you look at his career, and he seems like the older guy now so I’m rooting for him this year.” The last time Smooth Operator was ridden for the full eight seconds was in 2018 at the Atlantic City Invitational, when former World Champion Cooper Davis rode him for 93.75 points (out of a possible 100) in what Berger considers the greatest ride in PBR history. PBR arena announcer Brandon Bates agrees: “It should have been a 97 point ride. The judges missed that one. That’s what makes [Smooth Operator] so fun to watch; if anyone can figure him out, you might be seeing one of the highest scores ever in our sport.” Bulls are only getting ranker. With the introduction of enhanced breeding techniques like artificial insemination, egg collection, in vitro fertilization and using sperm that only produces bull calves, the quality of bucking bulls has increased dramatically in the last 25 years. In 1995, the first year PBR kept records, cowboys finished their rides 46 percent of the time; in the past three years, the qualifying ride rate has hovered around 29 percent.

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“If you watch the World Finals Events from the beginning days of PBR, well, I’d say 90 percent of those bulls wouldn’t even be able to make the cut here in the Billings event,” said Berger on an early April morning in the stockyard where his bulls had rested overnight. Berger seems at ease in the yard. He strolls the corral pointing out his bulls and describing their unique personalities, and then Beaver Creek Beau, son of the legendary Bodacious, jaunts over for a pat on the head like a one-ton golden retriever. In 2003, PBR and a group of stock contractors acquired a DNA registry formerly known as Rodeo Stock Registry, a database that would become the foundation of American Bucking Bull Inc. In just over a decade, a genetic registry of 20,000 has grown to nearly 200,000 cows and sires. The semen of champion bucking bulls can sell for thousands of dollars per straw—about one-tenth of a teaspoon—making them valuable even past their competition days. But Berger and most other livestock contractors believe the cow’s DNA, temperament and nurturing methods could be more important than the role of the sire’s genetics, not so much based on hard science but on personal observation. ABBI also developed stand-alone events in which young bulls, yearlings to 3-year-olds, are judged on their bucking with just a flank strip or 23-pound dummy attached that releases after a few seconds. The combination of the database and events for younger bovine athletes lead to bigger paydays and the explosion of bucking bull breeding programs across the country. In the old days of bull riding, the biggest payday a bull could hope to earn was $20,000 for being selected World Champion Bucking Bull. Nowadays the bulls, as much athletes today as the riders themselves, can earn up to $500,000 between the ages of 2 and 4, competing at ABBI events—before they even hit their prime and start competing in PBR sanctioned events. Watch a behind-the-scenes video of this story at mtoutlaw.com/bulls


NOW: BUCKING BULLS

erger isn’t much a fan of letting his younger bulls buck at these events, preferring to let his bulls mature and develop without too much additional stress, slowly introducing them to the lights, pyrotechnics, and loud music of PBR events that resemble monster truck rallies more so than traditional rodeo. Even without extensive practice from an early age, Berger can spot the ones with the most potential.“You can tell the ones that are more alert than the others—always keeping their eye on ya’, always wondering what’s going on, them ones that really pay attention to ya’—those are the ones that usually end up being the best bucking bulls,” he said. Two recurring themes arise when the cowboys most familiar with bull riding try to dispel the myths behind the chute gates. The first one is that mistreated bulls will become mean and that the meanest bulls will be the hardest to ride. “Everybody knows you can’t take a horse out of a pasture and do something to him that will make him win the Kentucky Derby,” said Rasmussen before heading off to apply his iconic face paint as the world’s most recognizable rodeo clown. “But somehow people seem to think you can take any bull and do something to them that will make them perform at the PBR level.” Cord McCoy, another storied bull rider who raises bulls on his ranch in Lane, Oklahoma, agrees. “Some of the best bucking bulls have the calmest demeanor,” McCoy said. “It’s not about how agitated they get, it’s really about if they can perform under pressure, just like the cowboys.” The other misconception comes from the detractors who see riding bulls as form of animal cruelty: “There is no animal that I know that’s treated that gets treated better than a bucking bull. They get the best diet, best exercise routines, and they get taken

to the vet at the first sign something is wrong,” Berger said. When I ask him about the unexpected death of his prize bull Pearl Harbor, he chokes up a little and clears his throat before explaining how an autopsy revealed a blood clot from a neck injury had gone to his brain, killing him instantly. Seeing the raw emotion from a stoic cowboy, it’s easier to see that the best bucking bull contractors treat their cattle like their own children, not because they are major investments, but because they develop emotional attachments to their overgrown pets. “If you think the flank strap is wrapped around their testicles, I suggest trying that on yourself, pull it tight, and see how high you can jump,” Berger said with a quick laugh. “You’d be lying on the ground and so would they. It’s just a cotton rope tied tight enough so it won’t fall off, a foreign object on their hindside that gets them to kick a little higher and buck a little harder.” Will the selective breeding of bulls continue to breed superbulls that are ever-increasingly hard to ride? While that is a possibility, Berger thinks we’ve reached a plateau. “If the bulls got any bigger and stronger, they might just buck themselves right in two.” Despite the future of these bovine beasts, one thing will remain the same—they will continue to be afforded the reverence and affection that world-class athletes deserve. Left: Raising bulls is a family affair. Cord McCoy, his wife Sara and daughter Tulsa all help out with the daily chores on their ranch outside Tupelo, Oklahoma. PHOTO COURTESY OF SARA BEST-MCCOY

Right: Lachlan Richardson gets a re-ride on Cord McCoy/Big Sky Bulls LLC’s Viper during the first round of the Las Vegas PBR 25th Anniversary Unleash the Beast World Finals. PHOTO BY ANDY WATSON

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D A RT TO S S : F I N D I N G T H E S O U L O F M O N TA N A

THE PEOPLE OF

MARYSVILLE BY JESSIANNE CASTLE

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t must have been a cold and dark night in the late 1800s when Martha Jane Canary stepped into the Marysville opera house, nestled in the mountains of central Montana. She was en route to her mother’s house in Blackfoot City, on the other side of the Continental Divide from Marysville, and she didn’t want to walk. Boasting a reputation for the daredevil ways that would give her the nickname Calamity Jane, the tall, blue-eyed brunette stepped onto the opera stage. Drawing both guns, she incited such commotion that she was promptly placed in the local jail for the night, saving her from walking home to her mother’s in the dark. “She was up there [in Marysville] quite often,” said 85-year-old Earl Fred as his blue eyes gleamed and a small smile spread across his face, warm from telling stories of the past. I was seated next to Fred in his Helena workshop, where he spends his time crafting beautiful works of art using a technique known as intarsia, which features dozens of pieces of naturally colored, inlayed wood. A former 40-year resident of Marysville and the author of Marysville, Montana: Its History and Its People, Fred came highly recommended by the Lewis and Clark County Preservation Office and was first on my list during my quest to explore the story of Marysville, Montana.

The walls of the Marysville House restaurant are carved over after over 40 years of visitors left their names on the wooden walls.

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ack at Mountain Outlaw headquarters in Big Sky weeks before, I’d hit Marysville with a dart after being blindfolded, spun around and told to take aim. It was to be the third installment of this magazine’s dart-toss series. Miraculously, I hit the map. Marysville is an old mining town, and like so many other small villes in Big Sky Country, it embodies the boom-andbust cycle of the Gold Rush days. Silver and gold were found embedded in the mountains northwest of Helena, along small streams that converge to form Prickly Pear and Little Prickly Pear creeks. It’s said that during the last decades of the 19th century, the Drumlummon mine became one of Montana’s richest gold mines, and the district produced an estimated $31 million, of which $15 million is credited to the Drumlummon. At its peak, Marysville was a hub for all the smaller mining locales, with two railroad lines, 26 bars, at least seven hotels and a brewery. Fred estimates 5,500 people called the town home, with 10,000 living in the greater area, but beginning in the ’20s it was thought that the gold had run out, and those seeking a fortune moved on to greener pastures——or richer mountains. Mining activity continued in fits and starts well beyond the 1920s, though it ceased in 2013 due to the plummeting price of gold. Today, approximately 72 people make up the small community and many houses have been torn down for their reclaimed, rustic wood. As much as the mines and their riches attracted people to Marysville, those very individuals created the Marysville of today. Polish, Swedish, Italian and Chinese immigrants flocked to the mountains around Marysville. Fred’s grandfather and his brothers were among those who came to get rich, working on a wage of $2.50 an hour. “It’s pretty hard to get rich on that,” Fred said. “They didn’t make any money and they were all in the same boat.” While the outlying mining encampments attracted men, the city of Marysville, with its grandiose train trestle and rail line, three newspapers and bustling business center, attracted families. Marysville was named for its first female resident, Mary Ralston, who Fred says donated much of her time to helping others within the community.

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Earl Fred, now 85, moved to Marysville at the age of 3 and with the publication of his book, Marysville, Montana: Its History and Its People, he’s considered by many as the authority on the history of the old town.

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s a young boy, Earl Fred visited the mines with his father, who worked as a muleskinner and was responsible for handling the mules that hauled ore within the mines. With carbide lamps on their helmets, they traveled through a tunnel in the mine, and Fred experienced the dirty, wet and dark environment. But after workdays in the mine, he recognized the town had its upsides, too. “Marysville was a lot of fun growing up in. It really was,” mused Fred, who moved with his family to Marysville at the ripe age of 3 in 1936 and recalls how active the community was. He learned to ski beneath the power lines and had to hike back up before Great Divide Ski Area was developed in the 1940s just up the road. The kids loved sledding down a 5-mile run that went right through town and required hitchhiking to get back to the top. The Marysville Miners baseball team was good; in 1899, Fred says they defeated every team they played throughout the Pacific Coast. John L. Sullivan came for a boxing expedition and the Ringling Brothers circus brought elephants and camels to town. Fred laughed when he told the story of two of his friends who were hired to water the Ringlings’ animals while they were in town. “They decided to have some fun with the camel,” he said, regaling me with details of how they hitched the camel to their wagon and had it pull them all over Marysville. Traditional transportation, however, was somewhat of a challenge when Fred was growing up. The 20 miles from Helena were littered with potholes and rough roads. “If you had a good socket set you’d be OK because you could tighten everything up when you got home,” he said, though he added that it also depended on the gas sold from the local candy store. “Usually you didn’t go very far because the gas was full of water.” >>

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Watch a behind-the-scenes video of this story at mtoutlaw.com/marysville

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ust a couple blocks from where the candy store still stands, the two-room schoolhouse opened its doors in 1883. A second story was built in 1891, making room for a three-year high school while allowing for growth in the other eight grades and bringing attendance up to 200 students. I climbed several steps leading to the schoolhouse and, once inside, was met by an incredible array of exhibits. Tucked into nooks along the walls were photographs and relics that included the school’s original desk and teaching material, a whiskey barrel used to haul ore, and assay equipment for measuring the presence of gold. The Marysville Museum and Gallery opened in 2014 after renovations were made to the schoolhouse, and is maintained by members of the Marysville Pioneers Association. Tammy Bridges, a volunteer at the museum and a 12-year, part-time resident who spends the rest of her time in the town of Birdseye 15 minutes away, walked me from exhibit to exhibit explaining how the Pioneers historical society has collected items for display over the years. Grasping a photo taken in 1917, Bridges oriented me to existing buildings, new and old. “I’ve taken this out a zillion times,” she said, pointing out the old candy store, Cotton Club Bar, and Methodist and Catholic churches. She traced the path of the old railroad with her finger, stopping at the center of town where there once sat a massive turntable that spun the train engines around. Bridges’ eyes lit up as she delved into stories of the past. To start, she told me of the extreme hardship, noise, filth and disease in the early days of Marysville. “The suicide rates up here and the deaths; it was astronomical for the population size,” she said. “The smell in the town was horrific, I can’t even imagine it, because you’d throw all your waste out there [on the road]. There was no sewer.” Dr. Mollie Babcock was one advocate who saw to the improvement of the filthy streets. Known as the Pioneer Doctor, Babcock traveled the Rocky Mountain West at the turn of the 19th century, practicing in the mining towns around Marysville at a time when women doctors were unheard of. “Men and women weren’t even sure of going to a female doctor because, ‘How could they be smart enough to be a doctor?’” Bridges said. “That was their thought process back in the day. They found out though, when you’re hurting, you’ll see anybody. [Babcock] was groundbreaking for sure.” Bridges has fallen in love with the area and while originally from Missoula, she hinted at finding her true roots in Marysville. That passion drives her to continue preservation work there. “It’s so interesting to see how much we’ve grown. When I look at the medicine that they had, the care that they had, how they lived — the dirt floors, just the basic stuff — the things that they ate, the hardship that they had, I guess I have a better appreciation for what we do have,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to me to show people how hard it was. People can see where we come from.”

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Tammy Bridges, a part-time resident of Marysville and volunteer with the Marysville Pioneers Association, makes it a point to preserve the town’s history through her work at the Marysville Museum.


NOW: DART TOSS

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Above: City Market was one hile the of many businesses that took museum up shop during the good old days of Marysville. Bustling is open with numerous bars, boarding seasonally, houses and restaurants, the town attracted men, women the only local eatery, and families. Marysville House, is open year-round. Executive Chef and General Manager Brian Hammerschmidt was opening the bar when I unlatched the door. The interior of the Marysville House is one-part lodge, two-parts Western steakhouse, with skis displayed on the walls and the unmistakable smell of wood smoke lingering from generations of woodstove fires. The walls are carved over with names of past visitors, and Willie Nelson is just one who is said to have left his mark here. Hammerschmidt welcomed me inside and offered a grand tour of the building, which, he told me, was actually built as a railroad station more than 100 years ago in a small town several miles down the road. “It was down in Silver City, but 40 years ago they moved it up here and turned it into a bar and restaurant,” he said. “There’s a lot of history up here.” When the Marysville House first opened in 1975, and back when drunk driving laws were lax, Hammerschmidt says they averaged 250 dinners a night, with 40 seats inside and 40 outside. Now, and since Hammerschmidt began managing five years ago, their busiest night saw 178 meals. “This place used to be really wild,” he said, directing my attention to a divot in the floor. At some point, someone had decided to burn out their Harley inside the restaurant next to the bar. “It’s not as crazy as it used to be,” he laughed. “We focus more on the food.” he Marysville House is known for its steak and lobster and Hammerschmidt says they used to be the number

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Above: To hear the one lobster seller in stories of Marysville, the state. A steaming Jessianne Castle traveled with the Outlaw bowl of sautéed cremini crew to sites in mushrooms he served me video Helena and Marysville. Pictured, she reflects on attested to his 25 years of culinary Fred’s accounts in his experience. woodworking shop in Hammerschmidt moved to Helena. Marysville 12 years ago, joining other friends from Missouri eager to enjoy the abundance of mountain activities. “It’s a great community,” he said. “Everyone’s friendly with each other.” As I thought about his words, Bridges walked through the door accompanied by her friend Kathy Orsello. Earlier, Orsello had told me her dad worked as a Helena cop in the ’40s, and he was frequently called to come “clean out the bars” in Marysville. “It was pretty rough up here still,” she said, casting a glance across the quiet landscape now a mix of dilapidated homes, renovated buildings and a scattering of newly built structures. Looking around the room in the Marysville House and seeing all the names carved into the walls, my mind was alive with the stories I’d heard. As Orsello and Bridges chattered in the background, I could picture the camel pulling the wagon down the street, and Calamity Jane drawing her guns, stage left. I could hear the din of the stamp mill crushing rocks across the way, and was reminded just how much individual stories — people’s lives — create the history of a town. As much as a place may attract people, it’s people that truly make the place.

Jessianne Castle is a freelance writer and contributing editor for Outlaw Partners and is based in Montana’s Shields Valley.

As a salute to the past, the Marysville Pioneers will host their 51st annual picnic on July 13, held at various venues in town. Visit the Marysville Pioneers’ Facebook page for more information.

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PIONEER SPIRIT How a Montana brewery is eliminating a quarter-million plastic bottles from Yellowstone BY SOPHIE TSAIRIS

The 19th century mining town of Philipsburg, Montana, about halfway between Butte and Missoula, is a place of exploration and ingenuity. Its pioneer spirit, reminiscent of the Old West and silver discovery in nearby Granite, still abounds, and entrepreneurs are adapting their businesses to create new and sustainable jobs that support the community. Nestled on a hill above P-burg, as locals call this town of just over 900 people, sits the Montana Silver Springs bottling facility. From the approaching dirt road the building looks like an unassuming warehouse, but beyond the garage doors a taproom and bottling line for both beer and water displays an atmosphere in vibrant contrast. Inside, NSYNC blasts on the radio, the type of music that one of the brewers claims “helps the yeast grow.” The place is animated with the smell of hops, the bustle of water bottling and the occasional rancher picking up spent grain to feed his cattle. Two stacks of aluminum bottles on pallets reach toward the high ceilings, one branded for Logjam Presents, the other for Yellowstone National Park. Just seven years ago, Nolan and Cathy Smith didn’t imagine themselves selling their product in the world’s first national park. The Smiths have been brewing and bottling beer in aluminum resealable bottles since they opened Philipsburg Brewing Co. in 2012. Now, at their Montana Silver Springs facility, they’re bottling a more precious commodity: sustainably packaged and locally 60

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sourced water. And they’re distributing in Yellowstone, where plastic bottles of water are consumed in alarming quantities. “We knew everybody wanted to do away with plastic, but we didn’t know if there would be a market for this here,” Cathy said. “When the National Park Service tried to eliminate plastic water bottles in the parks, we knew we were on to something.” In 2011, NPS established a policy encouraging national parks to end the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. Of 417 national park sites, 23 participated, preventing up to 2 million plastic bottles from being used and discarded every year, and avoiding up to 141 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. The Trump administration rescinded the “ban” in August of 2017, but many parks continue to seek out sustainable product alternatives. Yellowstone National Park Lodges, part of Xanterra Travel Collection and the main concessionaire in Yellowstone, is shifting to reusable and recyclable aluminum bottles. In doing so, it says it will eliminate approximately 250,000 plastic bottles from the park each year. Cathy and Nolan are bottling and distributing the spring water in the same recyclable aluminum bottles they use for beer. So far, they have contracts with Xanterra, Montanabased promoter Logjam Presents, and the Co-op in Bozeman, with plenty more prospective clients on the horizon. In 2016, Yellowstone National Park Lodges signed a contract with NPS, which included a commitment to stop


Left: When the weather warms, the Smiths open the amphitheater outside Montana Silver Springs, which comes alive with gardens, music and beer. Bands play each weekend and the amphitheater is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Right: Cathy and Nolan Smith accept the People’s Choice Award for Best Brewery at Butte-toberfest in 2014. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOLAN SMITH

Below: Nolan and Cathy Smith hope to produce 175,000 aluminum bottles of water in their Montana Silver Springs facility this year. PHOTO BY SOPHIE TSAIRIS

selling single-use water bottles. They tried replacing plastic water bottles with Boxed Water is Better but ran into trouble recycling the cartons and soon switched to Canned Water 4 Kids, a company based in Wisconsin. When Nolan Smith approached Xanterra last year with the idea of providing local, Yellowstone-branded, resealable aluminum-bottled water, it was a no-brainer. Each minute at Montana Silver Springs, 11 different underground springs produce 300 gallons of high-alkaline (7.8pH), mineral-rich water, a resource that would otherwise run into creeks. The bottles, produced by Ball Corporation in Colorado, contain no plastic and can be efficiently and effectively recycled, qualities that caught the attention of Dylan Hoffman, Yellowstone National Park Lodges’ director of sustainability, who was actively searching to replace plastic water bottles in the park. “At its core this is just water in an aluminum can, but the story behind it is much more powerful,” Hoffman said. “The messaging, packaging, local production, and support for Yellowstone Forever make this a high-value product.” The Montana Silver Springs bottles bear logos of Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone Forever, the park’s official nonprofit partner, which works to preserve the park and create educational opportunities for visitors and the community. Philipsburg Brewing already distributes beer in the park, so adding water to the shipment was simple and mitigates the impact of transportation. Xanterra received its first shipment of bottled water in late March of 2019.

Two years earlier, in 2017, Logjam Presents announced its “Going Green” initiative and started comprehensive recycling and composting programs across all of its venues. Chase Bjornson, the green initiative coordinator at Logjam Presents, says that the company is replacing upward of 100,000 plastic water bottles a year with Montana Silver Spring’s recyclable aluminum bottles. The impacts are staggering. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry, making new aluminum bottles from old bottles takes 95 percent less energy than using virgin materials, and recycling 10 tons of aluminum helps avoid 71.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. “Aluminum is the only closed-loop recycling process. It is infinitely recyclable,” says Bjornson. “When you recycle plastic, it’s downcycled into things like carpet fibers or liners for landfills. A recycled can will become a new can over and over and over again.” No market currently exists for recycled plastic, and most is thrown away or incinerated, leading to an explosion in what are called microplastics, or fragments of plastic that are 5 millimeters or smaller. A study conducted by scientists at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Fredonia found microplastics in many common water brands including Nestle, Pure Life, Evian and Dasani. Ninety-three percent of them contained microplastics. Conversely, aluminum is a more sustainable material that can be recycled throughout the U.S. “When a Montana Silver Springs bottle is thrown in a recycling bin in Yellowstone National Park, it only takes approximately 40 days for that same material to be back on the shelf as another can or bottle,” Nolan said. Cathy attributes the success of both the brewery and now the spring-water production company in part to luck, but also the unequivocal support from the Philipsburg community. “The pioneer spirit is about supporting your community whole-heartedly, whether it is businesses, charitable causes, local events or fraternal organizations,” said Cathy, adding that this camaraderie creates a tremendous sense of pride. “In Philipsburg, we all work together to make the community strong and help each other whenever we can.” Sophie Tsairis is a freelance journalist specializing in outdoor adventure, conservation and the environment. Committed to giving a voice to all things wild, she writes to inform readers through stories of the natural world. 

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Blazing the Trail The building of a Maverik bladesmith BY JESSIANNE CASTLE

At 15, Maverik Murdock was in disbelief. He’d just watched a video illustrating the strength of a knife’s blade — an ancestral tool borne of spark and fire — and from somewhere within he felt a burning to make one himself.

Pouring over books and scrolling through websites and videos, a young Maverik set out to build a knife in his family’s small garage in Bozeman. He made the blade with a hacksaw and files, but that first knife led to the next one and the one after that, as he tested his ability to transform raw material into beautiful and utilitarian art. “You could call it a calling,” Murdock said in early April, leaning over his workbench and clasping broad, calloused hands around a knife blank he recently forged. “Ever since I was young, I’ve always been very hands-on.” The second oldest in a family of six children, Murdock remembers playing with a crescent wrench and screwdriver as a young child. He took apart the lawnmower and busted his baby brother out of his crib. “I’ve always been one to jump in when something needed fixed,” he said, a Cheshire smile washing over his lean face. The entire Murdock family bears the mark of creativity, crafting spray-paint art, drawings or woodworking projects. Maverik Murdock is well-versed in the art of tinkering, whether building stick bows and stone hatchets or creating 64

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Twenty-four-year-old Maverick Murdock estimates he’s made about 150 hand-forged knives over his still budding career as a bladesmith, and every one captures an element of his own creativity. PHOTO BY DAKOTA MURDOCK

jewelry, leatherwork and furniture. He just needed the spark. It’s been 10 years since the first blade, and the now24-year-old estimates he’s built 150 knives, each by hand, each with an artisan’s care. In the spring of 2017, Murdock completed the first half of his journeyman smith testing offered by the American Bladesmith Society and he has high hopes of finishing the certification later this year. He bills the business as Maverik Knives, a place where customers can see their imagination come to life. From hunting knives and every-day-carries to kitchen choppers and straight razors, each piece displays Murdock’s expertise in metallurgy and experimentation. Through support from his parents and siblings, the wispy, blue-eyed young man was able to build his passion into a career. “It’s one thing to have the desire,” he said, “but to have your family always encouraging it ... really helped me grow.” Faith, he added, is a pillar in the Murdock home, and his parents prayed when they were naming their children. “They felt Maverik was the right one [for me],” he said. “They must have been right because Maverik traditionally means trailblazer.”


NOW: REPORTS

Murdock explores his own creativity in his work, trying out new shapes, metal combinations and handles. Pictured is one of his carbon steel blades that boasts a bright amboyna burl handle, complete with wrought iron and brass accents. PHOTO BY DAVE SHEPARD

Murdock’s workshop is still in his family’s garage. Recently cleaned from a week’s worth of metal craft, it’s clearly well-used. A scrap pile lies heaped to one side, the walls lined with shelving holding elements that make a perfect blade: metal, wood and antler to test its strength.

Surrounding Murdock’s forge, which sits at the center of it all, sanders and grinders stand at the ready. He points to an odd shape on the table in the corner, saying with a throaty laugh that he’s building yet another sander. Murdock says each knife is an exploration into the art of bladesmithing and by the very stroke of the hammer no two are the same. He leaves a trace of his own inquisitive nature in every piece, experimenting with items like coins for the bolster, or applying concoctions of acids and bases to transform the color of the blade. “To have those little differences, it’s really important to what I do. I like the thought that each knife is its own knife,” he said. “You can forge out 10 knives that are all roughly the same size, but the hammer will leave a different mark, like a fingerprint.” Daniel O’Malley is a bladesmith of 20 years and owner of the online sales site Blade Gallery based in Kirkland, Washington, where some of Murdock’s knives are sold. The uniqueness of Maverik Knives, O’Malley says, is a reflection of his innovative skill and approach to bladesmithing. “He’s a really promising guy,” O’Malley said. “He’s so fantastically creative, and he has pieces that are uniquely him.” O’Malley says Murdock experiments with interesting and adventurous shapes, finding his own expressive voice. “In knife-making, it can be a challenge having a unique artistic vision,” he explained. “Because he didn’t have a master standing over his shoulder saying, ‘You need to do it this way,’ he just tries things. He’s happy to do an experiment to see how it works.” It’s taken years, but he has developed a specific approach and metal-testing protocol after giving prototypes to local businesses such as Seven Sushi, Black Sheep Custom Leather

and The Barber Shop and Shaving Parlor. After numerous iterations of a drawing, he comes up with a design to satisfy a given need. He then proceeds to heat and hammer wide, flat lengths of steel using a forge he built himself. At temperatures just north of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the steel can be progressively molded. Once the blade itself is hammered to shape, Murdock develops the handle, which is fitted to the precise measurement of a customer’s hand. His favorite handles are wooden, and include the knotted formation of California buckeye burl, red afzelia lay burl, and the exotic and colorful curly koa. “I like natural materials. You can’t go wrong with a piece of wood; it’s warm in the hand,” he said. From there he utilizes grinders, polishers and vices in order to complete the shaping and develop an edge. As each knife has beginnings at the mercy of hand and hammer, so too do they culminate with a stroke of the hand: The final stage is to hand-sand the blade, creating a clean, satin finish. “I really want to produce something you’re going to use,” Murdock said, “but also something you’ll be proud to pass down in your family.” While in attendance at the International Custom Cutlery Expo in Kansas last year, Murdock’s mother, Camille, said she was proud to see her son’s product on full display, standing out from many others. “A lot of the time someone learns from a specific knife maker and they develop that person’s style,” she said. “That’s all they know.” But she added that because Murdock is selftaught — there aren’t many apprentice options in Bozeman — he’s had to learn to cultivate a style on his own. “His knives are all original.” From bars of steel, Murdock forges beautiful edges and shapes, creating art in his own way and blades from a spark. Visit maverikknives.com to view Murdock’s work. His knives are available locally at Schnee’s in downtown Bozeman. Jessianne Castle is a freelance writer and editor who calls Montana’s Shields Valley her home. Born and raised in Montana, she enjoys telling the stories of the West.

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The massive public lands bill that saved paradise and united Congress BY ANTHONY PAVKOVICH

There are places more valuable than gold. That was the unifying belief of outfitters, ranchers, hoteliers and residents that call Paradise Valley home. In spring of 2019, they had their faith ratified when Congress passed the largest public lands bill in over a decade. Drawing Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats and Independents together, this sweeping piece of bipartisan legislation included more than 100 separate bills that renewed the Land and Water Conservation Fund, designated 1.3 million acres as wilderness, and withdrew 370,000 acres from mineral development in Montana and Washington state. As a part of this omnibus bill, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act protected more than 30,000 acres of public land on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park from potentially toxic gold mining. While gold has been a driving economic factor since the first settlement in Paradise Valley, modern, large-scale extraction has not had a presence in the area. In 2015, two mining companies sought to explore the mountains above the Montana communities of Emigrant and Gardiner. Mining sulfide ore

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from these areas would put the downstream watershed at risk to acidic mining waste, a biproduct of industrial scale practices and a frequent contaminant resulting from hardrock mining. In response to these proposed mines, neighbors came together weighing the impacts and examining the economic trade-offs, and reached a consensus that water quality and long-term environmental health were more valuable than the short-term economics of a boom-and-bust cycle. Residents of the valley looked for a strong voice to carry their concerns to Washington, D.C. The Yellowstone Business Gateway Coalition, Park County Environmental Council, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition found an ally in Senator Jon Tester, D-Montana, who introduced key legislation in early 2017 to protect the watershed. “Mining has long played an important role in Montana’s history and our economy, but there are some places where it simply isn’t appropriate,” Tester wrote in a statement upon his bill’s introduction. “The doorstep of Yellowstone, which was established as our first national park 144 years ago, is one of those places.”


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A spring storm sunset overlooks the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, Montana. Caption caption caption CREDIT

PHOTO BY ANDY AUSTIN

But the legislative process is long, hard and easily derailed. Colin Davis, owner of Chico Hot Springs just off Highway 89 in Paradise Valley, is one of the founding members of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, a group of nearly 400 land and business owners fighting the mining proposals. During frequent trips to D.C., Davis spoke of the valley’s economic reliance on tourism. As the northern gateway into Yellowstone, Park County visitors spent an estimated $196 million in 2014, and the value of tourism has only increased since then. The area’s pristine landscape draws in business, and local merchants wouldn’t risk the watershed for a gold mine. However, in the District of Columbia, a single senator can’t advance a bill alone, and the coalition needed allies. By the end of 2017, with a strong push from local business owners, Representative Greg Gianforte, R-Montana, introduced a companion bill in the House. It took more hearings, more effort and more energy, but by early 2019 the coalition had Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines cosponsoring Tester’s bill as well. In an age of partisan politics, having the entire Montana delegation agree on a topic, let alone advocate for a bill, was inspiring and helped push the legislation forward. By early 2019, momentum was on the coalition’s side and Tester’s bill swept through Washington. Showing broad national support, the Senate voted 92-8 before moving the bill to the House where it passed with a vote of 363-62. “It took public lands to bring a divided government together,” Daines said. “It’s a testimony to who we are as Americans.” At a time when Congress is often gridlocked along party lines, the YGPA showed what is possible when ideologies are

put aside to protect the shared values of a community. The legislation was one of the biggest conservation packages to pass Congress in over a decade and had sweeping implications across the West as well as Montana. On March 12, President Trump signed the public lands package and the YGPA into law. A few days later, Tester and community members gathered at Chico Hot Springs. “We’re really here to celebrate the future of Paradise Valley and the future of our children,” said Davis, raising a glass that evening. That future continues to include a sustainable tourism economy based on healthy water and pristine lands. “It’s absolutely incredible to see the power of a united community,” said Michelle Uberuaga, the executive director of Park County Environmental Council. “We were able to set aside personal politics, stand shoulder to shoulder and work hard to safeguard the headwaters of the Yellowstone River, our public lands, our wildlife … and our community. It’s just incredible.” Conservation bills often take decades of hard work to become law. The framework of the YGPA, with it’s large coalition of local support, diverse membership and strong economic arguments is a powerful example for future conservation measures. The pace of advancing this bill into law and it’s striking success shows that when communities roll up their sleeves and work together, they still have a voice in American politics. . Anthony Pavkovich is a Montana-based freelance writer focused on crafting narratives about the wild landscape and people who live on it.

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Mosaic tile map of the Greater Yellowstone region at the base of the rotunda, Draper Natural History Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST


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The Little Big Town Cody, Wyoming, the community founded by Buffalo Bill, is home to five world-class museums dubbed “Smithsonians of the West” BY TODD WILKINSON

IN HIS TIME, HE WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF AN INTERNATIONAL ROCK STAR. Sporting long wavy

locks, a goatish chin beard, handlebar mustache and a hustling, dandy-like persona, “Buffalo Bill” Cody created myths about our region that still persevere in the imaginations of millions near and far. Say what you will about the self-described “Indian fighter,” ironic friend of Sitting Bull, pal of Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane; the bison hunter who boasted of shooting thousands of the iconic native beasts to feed railroad workers, and who became legendary as a showman for his choreographed buckskinVaudeville and Battle of the Little Bighorn reenactments. But William F. Cody (1846-1917) accomplished one feat beyond dispute: he demonstrated remarkable vision by staking out the town site that today bears his name.

Travel down Sheridan Avenue in Cody, Wyoming — the street honoring Civil-War-turned-Indian-War General Philip Sheridan — past the art galleries and historic Irma Hotel, named after Cody’s daughter, down this tree-lined boulevard, and eventually you arrive at a landmark curve in the road. There, en route to Yellowstone National Park, quite unexpectedly awaits a quintet of museums dubbed “Smithsonians of the West.” It’s a high-bar comparison repeated by the likes of novelist James Michener, actor Clint Eastwood and even the globally acclaimed African paleoanthropologist-conservationist Richard Leakey. How could this be here, you wonder, in the middle of nowhere, an outpost of fewer than 10,000 permanent residents? >>

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William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in Wild West show tent, circa 1903.

NO OTHER COMMUNITY ITS SIZE IN AMERICA, set in a large state of just 500,000 inhabitants, can claim similar status, boasts former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson, one of Cody’s proudest denizens. During his tenure in Washington, D.C., Simpson and his wife, Ann, got involved with the real Smithsonian Institution, with which the Cody museums are affiliated and share exhibitions. Even Buffalo Bill, Simpson says, would be left awestruck by the five museums today encompassed under the umbrella of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Even if Yellowstone did not exist, he suggests, a pilgrimage to Cody would be warranted.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West now encompasses five museums

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At the Whitney Museum of Western Art, you’ll find a trove of priceless paintings and sculptures depicting the West by masters ranging from Frederic Remington to Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt. The Western Plains Indian Museum is home to thousands of Native American cultural objects, costumes and artifacts. The Buffalo Bill Museum houses a collection chock-full of life effects and memorabilia related to Cody’s flamboyant and sometimes controversial life. And inside the Cody Firearms Museum is the coveted Winchester Arms Collection along with over 7,000 firearms (the largest collection of American guns in the country) and 30,000 firearms-related artifacts. Then there’s the Draper Museum of Natural History, celebrating the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, anchored by Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and several national forests, the oldest in the country being the Shoshone, which begins in the town of Cody’s backyard. None of these cultural meccas would exist save for two facts: the fine topographical and entrepreneurial eye of Cody himself, and an overachieving sense of community pride leveraged by the magnanimity of some powerful families who have adopted Cody as their home in the West. After visiting Yellowstone in the 1890s, Bill Cody followed the North Fork of the Shoshone River eastward until the mountains opened up to the rugged plains encompassed by the Big Horn Basin. He predicted that the riverside location, soon reachable by a spur line of the transcontinental railroad, could


YELLOWSTONE: THE LITTLE BIG TOWN

become an inspiring gateway to America’s first national park. Early skeptics claimed that the Draper, which opened in 2002, could never be pulled off. What they underestimated is the power of civic synergy that exists in Cody, a blend of local pride and affluent people whose families came west to stay at historic dude ranches in the area and remain transgenerationally smitten, according to Simpson. “Here, nobody gives a rip what pedigree you might have. It was evident in the early days of this town and it’s still true today. Bill and Melinda Gates might come to town on vacation, joined by Warren Buffett who makes a trip to the local Dairy Queen because Berkshire-Hathaway has investments in Dairy Queen. There have been Ford Motor Company heirs and Rockefellers and DuPonts and many others,” Simpson said. “There’s a lack of pretentiousness and yet one of the ways people express their gratitude to this place for having given their families so

“Nancy knew that natural history is a powerful educator that can be a tool for finding common ground.” -Dr. Charles Preston

many fond memories is by supporting these fine museums. Individually, each one is marvelous, but taken together it’s something you’d only otherwise find in a major city. And I’ll tell you that a lot of cities envy what we’ve been able to do.” Just as Cody was in its early days, the town is filled with characters whose eccentricities are not only abided but cherished, notes Simpson (and one could count him among them). One such character, Nancy Carroll Draper, who grew up a scion in a wealthy Eastern business family, fell in love with the South Fork of the Shoshone River as a young girl on family vacation. Eventually, she purchased the Slide Mountain Ranch, nicknamed by townsfolk as “Fort Draper.” Draper authored stories and books, served as a legislator, raised cows, and bred and judged Great Danes. From her place up the South Fork, she became a fearsome wildlife advocate and a champion in proclaiming Greater Yellowstone was special. Her lawyer at the time, Senator Simpson speaks of Draper’s tenacity and outspokenness with fondness. “As her attorney, I often get calls from her on various matters,” he says. “One time she told me that a bunch of guys were up there in the valley stressing the mountain sheep. She wanted me to take my gun up there and drive them away. Although she posted ‘No Trespassing’ signs on her property, hunters would sneak on and if she heard a shot, she’d fire one back. It was never done with an intent on killing, just scaring.” Draper adored the four museums at the Buffalo Bill Center but believed a natural history museum in the region was lacking, and if one was to join the pantheon of the other four it couldn’t be rinky-dink, undercapitalized or just filled with stuffed dead animals. To jumpstart her dream and pushing back against initial detractors, she put up $1 million to explore the idea. To sweeten the incentives after it was shown such a

museum could command a global presence, she contributed another $10 million to cover much of the 55,000-square-foot museum’s $17 million construction budget. Upon the Draper’s groundbreaking, she gave $2 million more. Draper realized that a magnificent campus alone wasn’t enough. She wanted an expert to lead the planning, Dr. Charles Preston, a renowned naturalist and expert on birds of prey to serve as chief curator. Preston retired in early 2019, but together with the Draper’s board of advisors and trustees overseeing the Buffalo Bill Center, they made innovation its hallmark. “People said that in this digital age of gadgets, museums were on their way out,” said Preston, who today is the Buffalo Bill Center’s senior scientist and curator emeritus. “Nancy didn’t believe that. To stimulate visitors’ senses, the center borrowed ideas from successful museums around the world, and aimed to take a bold approach.” “When Nancy approached me, she said her dream was to create a different kind of museum,” Preston added, “one that didn’t shy away from issues shaping the environment, and God knows we’ve got a lot of them in Greater Yellowstone, be it wolves, grizzlies or the role of public lands. While those topics can be controversial, Nancy knew that natural history is a powerful educator that can be a tool for finding common ground.” Draper passed away in 2008, but was able to be present for the museum’s opening six years prior. Her legacy lives on through the Draper’s myriad exhibits, an extension of her vision. The Draper features interactive displays that allow visitors to have sensual experiences via the sight, sound, smell and touch of natural phenomena. One permanent offering, “The Raptor Experience,” allows visitors to view live birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. The Draper has several ongoing research projects assessing the biological health of birds of prey in the Northern Rockies and on the high plains. >>

Nancy Carroll Draper in the backhoe on the day of the Draper Museum’s groundbreaking

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BEYOND THE DRAPER The BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM traces its roots to 1917, and is the flagship of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The museum first opened its doors to the public in 1927 in a log cabin in downtown Cody, modeled after Bill Cody’s house at his “TE Ranch.” The collection contains more than three dozen firearms that Cody owned, used, or presented as gifts, including the remnants of “Lucretia Borgia,” the U.S. Springfield Model 1866 .50-caliber, trap-door-type rifle that Cody used in hunting bison during the late 1860s and 1870s, earning for himself the nickname of “Buffalo Bill.”

The WESTERN PLAINS INDIAN MUSEUM, in the words of the late Plains Indian Museum Advisory Board member and Crow tribal historian Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, is “a living, breathing place where more than just Indian objects are on display.” Since 1979 the museum has been a leader in promoting public recognition of the importance of Plains Indian art due to its nationally significant collection. The museum sponsors the spectacular Plains Indian Museum Powwow held each June in the Robbie Powwow Garden at the Center of the West. Dancers from all over North America come to Cody to compete and share this event with visitors. 

The WHITNEY WESTERN ART MUSEUM began with one work of art dedicated in 1924: the monumental sculpture of Buffalo Bill known as “The Scout,” by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Among the priceless works by artists who made Romantic portrayals of the West and the intersection of wildlife, native peoples and cowboys is Edgar Paxson’s famous depiction of Custer’s Last Stand. The Whitney Collection includes original paintings, sculptures, and prints that trace artistic interpretations of the West from the early 19th century to today.

The CODY FIREARMS MUSEUM houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world, including the Winchester Arms Collection. “We seek to provide every visitor — from gun aficionados, to firearms novices, to those without previous firearms experience — with a unique educational opportunity,” a museum spokesperson writes. “This museum is more than just guns; firearms help inform the story of the West, the story of gun cultures, and the story of people.”

Note: Exhibitions at the Buffalo Bill Center in 2019 include a look at the 100th anniversary of the Cody Stampede this summer, and “Women in Wyoming: Portraits and Interviews of Women Who Shape the West,” coming in the fall. The Cody Firearms Museum is having a grand reopening in early July following a renovation. One of the grandest Western art events on this side of the Mississippi, the 38th annual Buffalo Bill Art Sale and Show, attracts collectors and artists from around the world September 20-21. If you missed it in Cody, “Invisible Boundaries” is on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole from July through midSeptember 2019.– TW

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Beyond that, it has provocative exhibits, public theater presentations and a massive floormap centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone region that one can stroll across, speaking to the shared sense of place and identity growing stronger every year among residents of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. “The Draper, as far as I’m concerned, is the best museum of western American natural history that exists in the world,” said geoscientist Leighton Steward, who has served on the Draper advisory board and as a Buffalo Bill Center trustee. “Chuck [Preston] has been a marvel and a visionary. At a time when some museums in the country are struggling for attendance, he insisted on having interpretive exhibits that were fun and interactive.” Preston has a dynamic personality and mousetrap mind for relaying fascinating facts of natural history. Under his leadership, the Draper amassed a collection of 170 wolf skulls being used in studies of how lobos hunt, what they eat and how the wolves that inhabited Greater Yellowstone before they were exterminated compare to wolves transplanted in the 1990s. In addition, the museum has upwards of 1,300 bird and mammal specimens. And the Draper is ambitious, massing a natural-sound library that chronicles the amazing acoustics of the wild. Further, the museum is affiliated with the prestigious $100,000 Camp Monaco Prize awarded by Prince Albert II of Monaco, whose great-greatgrandfather hunted with Buffalo Bill near the site known as Pahaska Tepee located between Cody and Yellowstone’s east entrance. Among the first to come on the Draper’s advisory board is Kathryn Heminway of Bozeman. “I had always grown up with a great appreciation for the Buffalo Bill Center and Whitney Gallery and Plains Indian Museum,” says Heminway who is married to


YELLOWSTONE: THE LITTLE BIG TOWN

“What’s so important to me is the number of children that come through ...They come alive at the Draper and are exposed to the natural sciences in a way that leaves a lasting impression.”

A young visitor viewing the Allosaurus exhibit at the Draper Natural History Museum

acclaimed author and filmmaker John Heminway. “There was so much energy and promotion of the firearms and fine art components of the complex, it required some effort to get people excited about the Draper. Chuck addressed that by really focusing on children’s education. When you hook kids, you’re also going to command the attention of their parents and extended family.” Heminway says the Draper, more than any other, has played a catalytic role in helping people in the region understand the larger landscape-level concepts that hold Greater Yellowstone together. It has been a fulcrum for exhibits and conversations centered around the astonishing wildlife migrations involving elk, pronghorn and mule deer.

Recent Camp Monaco prizewinners include a team putting together a traveling museum exhibit, along with help from the Wyoming Migration Initiative. “People were stunned when they looked at the movies and photographs and maps of migrations prepared by researchers,” said Simpson, adding that the list includes Arthur Middleton, now at UC-Berkeley, and Matthew Kaufmann from the University of Wyoming, artist naturalists like James Prosek, videographergeo Jennie Nichols, and photographer Joe Riis. “[Riis] has worked for National Geographic, which loves the Draper,” Simpson said. Growing out of that relationship was an exhibit called “Invisible Boundaries: Exploring Yellowstone’s Great Wildlife Migrations,” which showed how the massive seasonal wildlife

movements in Greater Yellowstone rank among the greatest on earth — the Draper was center stage for unveiling groundbreaking research. “The Draper has really earned a place on the world map of fine museums,” says Anne Young, another board member and a conservationist. “What’s so important to me is the number of children that come through. I’ve seen it with my own grandchildren taking part in the education programs. They come alive at the Draper and are exposed to the natural sciences in a way that leaves a lasting impression. “People talk about this thing called nature deficit disorder,” Young added. “Well, going to a place like the Draper can be a cure for that.” Todd Wilkinson, who lives in Bozeman, is a western correspondent for National Geographic and The Guardian, and is founder of Mountain Journal (mountainjournal.org), a nonprofit, public-interest journalism site devoted to exploring the intersection of people and nature in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. His column, The New West, also appears weekly in the Explore Big Sky newspaper.

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YELLOWSTONE’S WAR ON LAKE TROUT IS AGGRESSIVE GILLNETTING FINALLY PAYING OFF?

BY CHRISTINE GIANAS WEINHEIMER

An NPS Hammerhead crewmember displays a lake trout caught using a gill net. PHOTO BY NEAL HERBERT/NPS

 

I T ’ S R A R E F O R G I L L N E T T I N G B O AT C R E W S to feel gratified when their nets yield fewer fish. But that’s what happened on Yellowstone Lake last season when crews saw a 25 percent reduction in the number of invasive lake trout they caught over the previous season. It signaled a job well done. Gillnetting boats, staffed by National Park Service and private-sector crews, work the 132 square miles of Yellowstone Lake annually from May to October. They represent the linchpin in a race against time to remove non-native lake trout before they consume the park’s native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. NPS is attempting to solve a problem that dates back more than 100 years. In 1890, the U.S. Fish Commission introduced lake trout into Yellowstone’s Lewis Lake for sportfishing purposes, and eventually the fish found their way to Yellowstone Lake where, a century later, they began wreaking havoc.

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One mature lake trout can eat approximately 41 Yellowstone cutthroat per year, and the large, deep-swimming fish have no natural predators. Further tipping the scales in their favor, lake trout can live more than 40 years, whereas the life span of a cutthroat is typically 10-12 years. Yellowstone Lake’s cutthroat population was once estimated at 3.5-4 million fish. By the mid-- to late--2000s, however, that number had plummeted to roughly 500,000. Fast forward to 2018, when boat crews removed 297,000 lake trout as compared to 400,000 in 2017, a 25-percent decrease over just one year despite an increase of 8 percent in the number of gill-net units deployed. It likely indicates that the lake trout population is declining. The outlook didn’t always look so bright. Gillnetting started in 1995, but in 2012 park officials began fearing it was a losing battle. That’s when Yellowstone Forever — the park’s


GREATER YELLOWSTONE

“Raptors, grizzlies, otters and other species rely on cutthroat as a vital food source. The loss of native trout would be devastating for the ecosystem.”

official nonprofit partner — committed to help Yellowstone double down on its gillnetting efforts. Yellowstone Forever spearheaded a fundraising effort, the Native Fish Conservation Program, with an annual $1 million donation matched dollar for dollar by federal funds. The resources help Yellowstone implement its management plan focused on aggressive lake trout removal, and the investment is paying off. “Since 1994, the boats have removed more than 3 million lake trout, of which roughly 2 million have been removed during the past six seasons since Yellowstone Forever started supporting increased netting,” said Jeff Augustin, senior director of park projects for Yellowstone Forever. The goal of the park’s sustained efforts is to recover Yellowstone cutthroat trout to at least mid-1990s levels, when the prized fly-fishing catch was still abundant in the lake. But, as Augustin emphasizes, it’s not just about the fish. “The size and health of Yellowstone’s native trout population has a direct impact throughout the entire food chain,” Augustin said. “Raptors, grizzlies, otters and other species rely on cutthroat as a vital food source. The loss of native trout would be devastating for the ecosystem.” According to a report published in March by the journal Science Advances, some park predators that have historically fed on Yellowstone cutthroat have been displaced from the ecosystem or switched to alternative prey. Dr. Todd Koel, head of the park’s Native Fish Conservation Program and the report’s lead author, says ospreys, for example, which only eat fish, were nearly displaced from riparian habitats around Yellowstone Lake. And bald eagles, in the absence of cutthroat trout, have shifted to scavenging carcasses and preying on common loon chicks and trumpeter swan cygnets — two waterfowl species that have declined in the park in recent years.

“This study demonstrates Left: Lake trout caught in a gill how the addition of an exotic net lie on the deck of the NPS Hammerhead. Gillnetting started species such as lake trout in 1995 and park officials are beginning to see results. can change ecosystems,” said Koel. “Yellowstone is PHOTO BY ANN SKELTON responding to the stressor of losing a native food source.” Right: Native Yellowstone cutthroat trout spawn in the Lamar Valley. Fortunately, progress has been measured in other PHOTO BY JAY FLEMING/NPS areas. Gillnetting crews are seeing fewer small lake trout, indicating a lower birth rate, while higher numbers of cutthroat trout are being seen within the lake and spawning streams, and netting crews are catching more cutthroat in their hauls. While the data is trending in the right direction, Koel says it’s not time to slow efforts. “We have no intention of letting off on the netting pressure.” Koel says the team will also expand their attack on lake trout eggs. They strategically place dead lake trout on spawning areas to manipulate the water quality, which has proven effective in killing the eggs. Mature lake trout they have implanted with hydro-acoustic telemetry tags lead them to the spawning sites. While Koel says he would like to “put the nail in the coffin” of these lake trout, he admits that may never happen. “Yellowstone plans to continue the program in one manner or another, indefinitely, as we will never capture the last lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.” But he believes that complete annihilation of lake trout won’t be necessary for the native fish to fully recover. “We plan for cutthroat trout to regain their rightful role in the ecosystem.”

Learn more about the Native Fish Conservation Program at Yellowstone.org/native-fish.

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CLASSIC WESTERN BARS PHOTO BY JODI HAUSEN

The Spirit(s) of Greater Yellowstone BY JODI HAUSEN

The greater Yellowstone region plays host to beautiful vistas, abundant wildlife, verdant pasture and blue-ribbon fly fishing. Not only do the deer and antelope play here, so too do anglers, hunters, ranchers, skiers and outdoor enthusiasts of every breed. And when their work or play is finished, it’s time for a little refreshment. From Cody, Wyoming, to Gallatin Gateway, Montana, saloons dot the landscape. Here, history and fish stories run deep and music tends toward a certain twang. They’re taverns trimmed with the taxidermy of bison, moose and bear, murals depicting the Old West, cowboy artifacts, historic photographs and ranch brands. Knotty wood, well-worn leather and rustic lighting underlie it all. It’s where the region’s juiciest steaks and burgers from local ranches or fresh-caught fish from nearby rivers are served along with, of course, some of the West’s finest beer and spirits. Talk of politics or religion is rare in these parts – music, hooch and the day’s adventures are the focus of conversation. And idle chatter can quickly turn to banter or a swagger, swing or twostep on a nearby dance floor. Though each is unique, an overriding tendency pervades each watering hole: All are welcome. Whether you don the threadbare denim jacket of a hardworking cowhand, the age-polished boots of a longtime rancher, the waders of an angler, the wool cap of a skier or the bedazzled jeans of a tourist, you’ll find comfort and a warm spirit in these handpicked Western saloons.

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THE MURRAY BAR Livingston, Montana

On a chilly April evening, the Murray Bar is relatively quiet. Ranch brands adorn one wall while portraits of regulars (anglers with their fish-tale flies) line another. The cowboy-bar icon — a stuffed bison head — watches over the scene. Opened in 1904, the adjoining Murray Hotel offers an elegant stay and is also a museum of Western culture with artifacts from notable guests including Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane and filmmaker Sam Peckinpah. Anthony Bourdain named the Murray one of his favorite hotels in the world. Even on a calm night such as this, the Murray’s friendly atmosphere pervades as locals and visitors sip libations around the large rectangular bar. In its center, bartender Patty Glantz hesitates when singer-songwriter Miss Valeri Lopez tells him she’s touring from L.A. and asks to perform some numbers. But as her rich voice fills the tavern, his reluctance and patrons’ hearts take flight. It’s a scene that plays out on occasion at the Murray, where old friends meet over beers after work but there’s always room to chat with new ones. “The people are what makes the [Murray],” says Joshua “Jed” Edwards, a resident fishing guide since 2009. “This is a big place, but you’re only as good as the person standing next to you.”


THE MILLION DOLLAR COWBOY BAR

GREATER YELLOWSTONE

Jackson, Wyoming

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is more than a Jackson landmark. Established in 1937, it’s the oldest surviving business on the town square. New proprietors took ownership of the bar early last year and aim to preserve the Western heritage that has made it a favored watering hole. The classic honky-tonk saloon has undergone major restoration, from its scenic Western murals over the bar to the mounted wildlife and cobbled pine accents inside and out. The Cowboy’s neon sign was also repaired so it again rotates, which it hadn’t for over 50 years. Even the barstools have been refurbished – but these aren’t your average four-legged affairs. Bellying up to the wooden bar embedded with silver dollars means mounting authentic saddletopped stools. Known for presenting world-class musicians including Hank Williams Jr., Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson and Tanya Tucker, the Cowboy Bar also offers free Western swing dance lessons on Thursday nights. The music will always be of a certain genre, says General Manager Jim Waldrop. PHOTO BY BRYAN GREGSON

LAST CHANCE BAR AND GRILL AT TROUTHUNTER

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MILLION DOLLAR COWBOY BAR

Island Park, Idaho

“We want to continue the tradition of good music – more on the rowdy side than a little mellow, but good fun.” Overlooking the blue-ribbon trout waters of the Henrys Fork in Island Park sits the Last Chance Bar and Grill. Its high-ceilinged, timber-framed dining room is part of the fly-fishing enterprise that is TroutHunter. The lodge, with its guide service, fly shop and restaurant, is a premiere gathering place for anglers and travelers from around the world. “You can sit in the bar and hear three or four foreign languages being spoken,” says René Harrop, one of TroutHunter’s founders. “You have that opportunity to interact with people from far-off places.” Harrop, in his 70s, retired from the business several years ago but is still active in the community, tying and selling flies and occasionally penning a blog post for TroutHunter. It’s not just visitors who frequent the place, though. The establishment has been a fixture in the local community of fishing aficionados for more than 20 years. For those seeking the banter of an it-was-this-big fish story, some natter about obscure fly patterns, tasty food and drink in a warm atmosphere, Last Chance is just 15 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. >>

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GREATER YELLOWSTONE: CLASSIC WESTERN BARS

CASSIE’S SUPPER CLUB Cody, Wyoming

PHOTO BY WA DE MC MIL LIN

Vince Gill, winner of more than 20 Grammy awards for country music, visited Cassie’s Supper Club about six years ago. As far as he’s concerned, steak is the star at Cassie’s. “He just stopped in, ate a lobster and a steak and played for an hour and a half,” says owner Melody Singer. It happened again a year later. Founded as a brothel in 1922 by young widow Cassie Waters, the ladies of the night turned to serving steaks when prostitution was no longer tolerated. In 1992, Melody’s husband, Steve Singer, purchased and renovated the steakhouse, which now boasts 20,000 square feet, three floors, three bars and a large dance floor. Parts of the original building, its décor and relics still remain. Its proximity to Yellowstone National Park and the Beartooth Highway makes Cassie’s a gathering place for locals and tourists from all backgrounds. “We have people who come in [wearing] a tie and people will come in [wearing] their hiking boots and shorts,” Melody says, adding that they pride themselves “on treating all people like family here.”

STACEY’S OLD FAITHFUL BAR Gallatin Gateway, Montana

Since 1937, Stacey’s Old Faithful Bar has been keeping regulars and newcomers happy as they sip from bottled beer and dig into mouthwatering steaks. On any given night here, dusty cowboys and vested ranchers with pocket watches mix easily with fleece-clad skiers in baseball caps. Adorning the walls are classic images of cowboys and rodeos. Gary Ward, a fourth-generation rancher, has been coming to Stacey’s since he was 7 years old. On a recent weeknight, Ward joined friends Ray Vail and Ken, who goes simply by K.R. Each around 70, the men reminisce about the history of the small saloon tucked off the highway between Bozeman and Big Sky. In the mid-1900s, they say, thousands of head of cattle were calved in pastures close enough that, on breaks, cowboys sought refreshment at Stacey’s. The joint means a lot to area folks and the visitors they share it with. “I call it the center of the world,” Ward says. “A lot of problems get solved here,” agrees K.R. Stacey Crosby bought the bar and steakhouse in 1963 and it’s still run by his daughter, Toni Donnelly. She’s justifiably proud of her establishment’s history and its welcoming atmosphere. “It isn’t a bar, it’s an institution,” she says. “Everybody’s family.” PHOTO BY JODI HAUSEN

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DAVID YARROW “CINDY’S SHOTGUN WEDDING” 52 X 67 Framed | PHOTOGRAPH

CREIGHTONBLOCKGALLERY.COM | 406.993.9400 TOWN CENTER | BIG SKY, MONTANA


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Oceans OUR UNSEEN

HOW THE WATER BENEATH OUR FEET CONNECTS US

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IMAGINE you are a droplet of water, carried within a gathering cloud over the wide valleys and rugged mountain ranges of southwest Montana. When the cloud’s mass becomes more than the air can support, you begin careening earthward along with a host of companions.

BY BAY STEPHENS

The emerald waters of the west fork of the Gallatin River, featured in the film “A River Runs Through it,” are iconic for fly fishing and intimately connected to unseen groundwater. PHOTO BY KENE SPERRY

Some land on trees, rocks, or trickle into ponds only to be blasted by the sun back into the atmosphere. Other droplets run over the surface of the land into mountain streams, which babble and tumble to join the roll of an ever-growing river. You, along with a select group, land on rich black soil and soak into the ground. As you go, some of your friends find themselves sucked into plant roots to be pulled by a chain of water molecules back into the atmosphere. But you continue to sink down, down into the soil. How much water is in this basin you now occupy? This question comprises a hydrologist’s bread and butter. Wherever the water lands, and wherever it ends up, only a finite amount is available to satisfy the needs of every faction that shares the basin. In “closed basins,” such as the Gallatin River Basin where Bozeman is squarely nestled, more surface water has been legally doled out than actually exists, making the question “How much?” even more important. But when it comes to water, there’s far more than meets the eye. In fact, the majority of the resource lies underground, escaping visible scrutiny.>>

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LAND: OUR UNSEEN OCEANS

THE H I D DEN RESOURC E Beneath our feet — a mile, 150 yards, even five feet down — unseen waters move slowly through the ground. These “aquifers” come in various shapes, sizes, salinities and depths. Out of sight and mind, most of us have only an inkling of how our lives intertwine with these buried reservoirs. Globally, underground water sources represent 96 percent of freshwater available, excluding glaciers and icecaps, according to the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, which looked at climate change effects throughout the state. These subterranean storage units range in size about as much as rivers do, from underground puddles to buried oceans, and some are heavily utilized as traditionally dependable water sources. Insufficient rainfall in the arid West makes agriculture without irrigation unfeasible for certain crops, so aquifers supplement surface water draws or are the primary source sustaining many farms and communities. In Montana, about half of the state’s population depends on groundwater for domestic water needs, as it’s often the only available water source. In some parts of the West, these groundwater stores have been depleted to the point where scientists and water managers have begun to count down the years until some aquifers have no more to give. When it comes to using water, a balance must be struck — and must account for groundwater, not just surface water. Ideally, the resource is equitably distributed between agricultural, environmental and industrial/municipal uses: the three-legged stool. The agricultural portion of the stool affects groundwater in marked and interesting ways, and changing irrigation practices can precipitate changes to the underlying aquifers in places like the Gallatin Valley. Beyond the reach of written history in the Americas, sagebrush carpeted the Gallatin Valley. As homesteaders settled the area, the sea of soft green gave way to cultivated fields watered by canals that diverted part, or all, of the Gallatin River’s water, to flood the fields so crops would grow. Along with being labor-intensive, flood irrigation is often seen as inefficient and detrimental to rivers and streams because of the volume of water it requires to fill a ditch and convey the life-giving stuff to a farmer’s fields. Organizations

with vested interests in keeping water in rivers for wildlife have collaborated with irrigators to safeguard instream flow, sometimes leasing water rights from agriculturalists or helping them line ditches to prevent leaking, therefore requiring less diversion from rivers. Most crops only require one to two feet of water to grow, yet flood irrigation douses fields in up to five and a half acrefeet over the course of the growing season, according to John LaFave, a hydrogeologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. “That’s way more than a crop needs to grow,” LaFave said. “So that begs the question: What’s happening to all that water that’s being diverted?” In many places, it’s raising the water table. LaFave told of a canal located on a bench overlooking the Beaverhead River between Dillon and Twin Bridges that was installed more recently than most ditches in the state. When the canal came online in the ‘60s, monitoring wells saw the water table rise 40 feet. On other monitoring wells in the Bitterroot Basin south of Missoula, irrigation leakage facilitated approximately 10 times the recharge of natural processes when the canals filled in May, and the water table remained elevated through March of the following year. “It’s an incidental consequence of the use of irrigation water,” LaFave said. “And what it’s done is created aquifers in places where there weren’t aquifers and [it] sustains a lot of aquifers.” He added that the artificially high water table formed by canal leakage has created wetlands and lush riparian areas in the Bitterroot Basin, as well as made way for neighborhoods that rely on the water table. Although similar data hasn’t been recorded in the Gallatin Valley, with its over 2,000 miles of irrigation canals, the case is likely the same. Ironically, as farmers transition from flood irrigation to more efficient irrigation practices that allow them to divert less from the river to water fields, the unintended consequence could be a lower water table. When the water table declines it could mean less water in the rivers, especially in late summer.

GR O U NDWATER AND THE R IV E R

1. Leakage from irrigation canals causes an artificially high water table. 2. High density subdivisions where each house has exempt well and lawns are watered.

IRRIGATION CANAL

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3. The river is the expression of the water table.

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4. Groundwater entering river keeps it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

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Although center pivots are one of the most efficient ways to water fields, reducing the amount of water agriculturalists must divert from the river, these more efficient irrigation methods may lead to less groundwater recharge and a lower water table, which could in turn mean less water in the river later in the year. PHOTO BY BAY STEPHENS

O NE AND THE SAM E Running out of the house with his brothers as a kid, Pat Byorth would strap a fishing rod or shotgun across the handlebars of his one-speed Stingray bike and ride out of town to shoot pheasants or catch fish. The Byorth boys cowboyed on ranches and backpacked in the summers, hunted in the mountains and prairies surrounding their hometown of Billings, Montana. A love for the mountains, fields and streams of the West grew like Bitterroot flowers out of Byorth’s young days in untamed places. “We were kind of raised feral,” Byorth said, smiling at fond memories. “We just ran wild, literally, out in the wild.” Strong-built and tall, Byorth has gentle eyes that complement his short brown hair and grey-flecked moustache. His life and work have revolved around the natural world, especially its rivers, which still connect him with Mother Nature on a profound level. As a former fisheries biologist on the Madison and Gallatin rivers and now an attorney with Trout Unlimited, Byorth, who was also recently appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, has always focused on waterways, but his scope has expanded to encompass groundwater as well. While it was once thought that groundwater and surface water were distinct from one another, it’s now scientifically understood that they comprise one entity, one body, one resource. “Rivers are the expression of the water table,” as Byorth put it. Illustrating this, Byorth says, when a river runs high and full-bore, such as during spring runoff, someone on the bank wouldn’t have to dig far to find groundwater: It will be at the same elevation as the river. On the flip side, in late August when the river is low, one would have to burrow far deeper to reach the substance. Essential to river health, groundwater is the only reason mountain streams continue running in the late summer heat when the mountain snowmelt is spent. According to Byorth, groundwater stays between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping coldwater fish like wild trout cool and

Pat Byorth worked 16 years as a fisheries biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, but after constantly bumping into policy that dammed his efforts to protect rivers, he went back to school to become an environmental attorney. He’s spent the last 10 years working with Trout Unlimited in Bozeman. PHOTO BY BAY STEPHENS

happily respiring in the oxygen-rich water. The death knell for these aquatic residents is when water temps rise above the dreaded 82.5 F mark. The less water in a river, the higher its susceptibility to temperature fluctuations. Groundwater also supplies river baseflows when winter has locked everything up in wind-swept snowdrifts. The warmerthan-air groundwater discharging from riverbeds prevents the waterways from freezing completely. For either temperature extreme, coldwater fish rely on groundwater for survival, spending much of their time near segments where it joins the river. In fly-fishing capitals like Bozeman, healthy fish correlate to a thriving economy, so when access is limited, business feels the pinch. On occasions when rivers hover above 70 degrees for a prolonged period of time, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks can implement partial and complete fishing closures on stretches to reduce the stress on fish, which has happened on the Gallatin five of the past 10 years, according to Byorth. >>

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Using an integrated, relational database and mapping program developed by members of World Bank, Byorth demonstrated how a 42-day closure between July 19 and August 29, 2017 resulted in a loss of $984,000 in tourism revenue and $196,000 in income. According to the database, the closure cost the local economy approximately $24,000 per day. Ecologically, thriving river denizens are also critical to the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem. Take the mountain whitefish, for example. “They’re just osprey food,” Byorth said, with a wry smile. Able to reproduce themselves by a factor of 120 in a single spawn, whitefish are abundant for predators, in terms of population density, and are also less cover-oriented. They feed back into the greater ecosystem, helping sustain eagles, minks and otters, which in turn fertilize the surrounding forests and grasslands. Even property values are contingent on river health, Byorth explained: No one wants to live near a sick river. Likewise, rafting, biking and hiking along such a river is not as alluring as when recreators can witness ospreys plucking hearty whitefish from the emerald waters. “A healthy river pays for itself in terms of economics and ecology,” Byorth said.

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Bozeman is one of the fastest growing micropolitan areas in the nation, and how the residents of Gallatin Valley decide to use groundwater will affect the streams that run throughout the valley, as well as the agricultural community and general public. OUTLAW PARTNERS PHOTO

THE BUILDER’S DILEMMA Bozeman is growing — aggressively. With an estimated growth rate of 3.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last year, the population is expected to breach 50,000 by 2020 and stands to double in 20 years if the growth keeps up. More people require more places to live, which means more building and increased demand on water resources. Although the city of Bozeman relies primarily on surface water from Sourdough and Hyalite creeks to provide drinking water, according to the city’s website, homes and subdivisions built beyond the municipal water system must look elsewhere for the resource. For a period, the easiest solution was to punch what are called “exempt” wells. Intended to give small-scale appropriators a break from the hassle and cost of acquiring a permit when they posed little threat of affecting neighboring water rights, exempt wells aren’t required to obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to appropriate water, so long as the well draws remain beneath specific rate and volume thresholds. Although the wells worked in most areas of Montana, such as where ranchers live miles from the nearest neighbors and draw small volumes to water livestock, things got complicated in counties where growth was off the charts and subdivisions were popping up like spring flowers. In response to a statutory amendment in 1991 reducing the flow rate allowed under the exception and adding a volume limit, DNRC changed the definition of exempt wells in 1993. This gave latitude for huge developments to be built wherein every house had its own well, each able to draw “35 gallons per minute or less, and … not [exceeding] 10 acre-feet a year,” according to the statute. Regardless of the size of a subdivision, developers could dig wells, apply for, and receive certificates from the DNRC without any review on the impact to other water-rights holders or the environment. The definition change sent ripples throughout certain counties in the state. In Gallatin County, where Bozeman is located, the county commission processed 498 subdivision applications and recorded 13,321 exempt well certificates of completion between 1990 and 2007, according to an article in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. Many of these “straws” pulled groundwater destined for the Gallatin River and other tributaries.


LAND: OUR UNSEEN OCEANS

“Subdivisions aren’t all consumptive, whereas ponds: that water’s sitting there and evaporating 3-5 acre-feet a year.”

Part of the issue with exempt wells in large subdivisions was that they didn’t play by the same rules that large permitted wells or senior rights holders do, though they could potentially draw the same or even a bigger volume of water. It’s difficult to know their exact effect, but exempt wells could suck water from the aquifer with little to no oversight or enforcement, while the Gallatin River runs dry and hot, and while irrigators receive the backlash for it from an angry public. Although the DNRC recognized that exempt-well uses were outpacing the legislative intent of the wells, and intended to change it, they were hindered by the legislative committee overseeing water law changes in the state and then sued before the department could modify the definition, according to a DNRC Declaratory Ruling. “Those definitions were developed for specific reasons of the time,” said DNRC Water Rights Bureau Chief Millie Heffner. “And at the time, really, there weren’t a lot of subdivisions occurring. It was primarily agricultural use.” In a 2014 district court ruling, the definition was reverted to a 1987 version that allowed 35 gallons per minute or less and up to 10 acre-feet a year per project, not per well. Under the ’87 definition, an entire subdivision, which would be considered one project by DNRC, could now only withdraw the amount an individual well could under the previous definition. This limited developments outside central water utilities to between five and 10 homes, depending on water-use restrictions. The change dramatically slowed development in the county, focusing subdivision construction to areas with established water and sewer districts, according to developer Kevin Cook of Gene Cook Real Estate in Bozeman. He added that the definition change made building more complicated and expensive for developers, meaning pricier homes for buyers. “It’s just changed the game,” Cook said. “Is it good, is it bad? I say it is what it is … You’ve got a new set of rules, just go play by the new set of rules.”

Cook admitted that builders haven’t quite figured out how to effectively play by the new rules outside of central water supplies, but added that homes in a subdivision hooking up to central water and sewer systems is better for public water supply and wastewater disposal than having individual wells and septic systems. “Long-term-wise, central water, central sewer, it’s a good thing,” Cook said. “It’s not a bad thing if you’re going to be at higher densities. That’s the appropriate thing to do.” In closed basins like the Gallatin, acquiring a permit for water rights requires offsetting the water that is used so the effect on the aquifer is a net zero, which is far from simple. “I wish the state of Montana legislature would pass some new laws that would clarify and give a better, more userfriendly way to deal with this issue,” Cook said, adding that it makes sense why it hasn’t been addressed yet. “[In] Central Montana, Eastern Montana, there’s less development. So, when a large portion of your state doesn’t have this issue in their backyard, it’s really not a major concern to them.” Exempt wells may not make a substantial dent in water lost to the watershed, considering 90-95 percent of in-home domestic use returns to the basin — by way of the sink and a water treatment plant. However, water pumped for use on lawns and gardens, and especially to fill private fishing ponds, represents water lost to the system. “Subdivisions aren’t all consumptive, whereas ponds: That water’s sitting there and evaporating 3-5 [acre-] feet a year,” said Travis Horton, FWP fisheries manager for the region. “The rate that they’re being developed and dug is not sustainable from the water perspective in this valley.” Also supplied by exempt wells, Horton has seen the size of ponds increase over the years to such a degree that he believes some are exceeding the volume restrictions placed on exempt wells. “There’s no universe to assume that ponds are a benefit to the resource in terms of water,” Horton said. “There’s no way. I put it as bleeding to death by a thousand paper cuts.” >>

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L A N D , C L I M AT E A N D WAT E R BUDGETS Whiskey’s for drinking and water’s for fighting over, as the adage goes. The essential resource has always been scarce in the American West, and the history of conflicts surrounding it bears testament. And no more water is on its way, at least according to climate projections. The Montana Climate Assessment predicts warming temperatures will likely reduce snowpack at mid and low elevations, while earlier snowmelt will cause earlier peaks in spring runoff, resulting in decreased late-summer water availability. “Groundwater demand will likely increase as elevated temperatures and changing seasonal availability of traditional surface-water sources (e.g., dry stock water ponds or inability of canal systems to deliver water in a timely manner) force water users to seek alternatives,” the assessment states. Comprehensive monitoring may be one way to better understand where water moves and how much there is, allowing for better decision making in the face of reduced water availability. In 2009, the Idaho Water Resource Board, with support from the Idaho Department of Water Resources, adopted a comprehensive aquifer-management plan for the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. The plan involves a sophisticated water-monitoring system designed to show as precisely as possible where every drop of water goes in the basin. The board predicted an escalation of conflict between water users, increased litigation, increased likelihood of groundwater curtailment, and limited opportunities for community and economic growth, among other foreboding projections, unless an adaptive management plan could strike a balance between water use and supply in the aquifer. In the Gallatin Valley, a network of 64 wells monitored between the Gallatin Local Water Quality District and the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology keeps tabs on the groundwater and its quality, but more is better when it comes to monitoring, says GLWQD District Manager Tammy Swinney.

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“It’s always good to have more data,” Swinney said. “More information allows you to make better and more well-informed decisions. In my opinion, you could never collect enough groundwater quality or water-level data.” Although she thinks no organization alone can gather truly robust data, Swinney says partnerships between organizations to share information could work powerfully, ideally revealing shared gaps in data that could then be filled. The information could map out the best ways to mitigate water usage, maintain a high water table and slow the exodus of the resource from the Gallatin Valley, thus helping to alleviate conflicts related to the need for water. “If we can keep more water in the valley,” Swinney said, “especially in those critical times of the summer when irrigators need it, fish need it, recreationists want it, homeowners want it, then we need to find a way to keep as much of the water that enters our watershed here as long as possible before it leaves.” At key locations and times of year, Swinney says managed flood irrigation in the Gallatin Valley might help maintain the high water table on which both well owners and the river rely. It could also act as an artificial replacement for a decreasing snowpack that has historically held water late into the summer. The materials we choose to use for our driveways, sidewalks and parking lots can also contribute to aquifer recharge and slowing water down.

Interlocking pavers allow rain and snowmelt to run between the pavers and seep into the soil, a process called infiltration. The method acts as flood control and allows the soil to filter the water and to recharge the shallow aquifer. PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY OF BOZEMAN

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“We need to find a way to keep as much of the water that enters our watershed here as long as possible before it leaves.”


LAND: OUR UNSEEN OCEANS

Southwest Montana is renowned for its fly fishing, but some anglers may not realize how groundwater keeps the river cold in the heat of late summer and warm enough in the chilled heart of winter for coldwater fish to thrive. PHOTO BY KENE SPERRY

“The more we grow, the more impervious surface we’re going to have,” Swinney said. “We’re going to have more roads, more sidewalks, more parking lots, more rooftops, more driveways.” As rainwater or snowmelt hit these impermeable surfaces, the water sweeps all the sediment, debris and mechanical fluids from cars into storm drains, which send the grimy cocktail straight into the streams lacing through Bozeman. Impervious surfaces facilitate water leaving the valley quicker, polluting waterways in the process. Officials with the city of Bozeman are working to address this issue, pushing for land-use choices that leverage the filtering power of soil to slow and clean water destined for streams. Using pavers akin to those employed by the Roman Empire to build roads, the city built a patio surrounded by a “water-wise garden” outside City Hall as an example for others to follow. “We’re really trying to model best practices when it comes to stormwater management,” said the city’s stormwater program coordinator, Kyle Mehrens. Pavers allow water to percolate down into the soil, acting as flood control, water filtration and preventing water that’s laden with fish- and insect-harming pollutants from rushing over concrete to the nearest stream, according to Mehrens. The city also broke ground on a pilot infiltration garden just south of Langhor Park that catches stormwater and filters it through the garden’s soil before it joins Mathew Bird Creek, allowing clean, soil-filtered water to join the stream as was the case before Bozeman existed. The effects of these projects and choices may seem small, but they add up when it comes to keeping water in the valley. After all, we have a budget to keep.

THE CONTRADICTION OF THE WEST When it comes to protecting the marvels of the natural world in the midst of growth and change, Byorth says complacency is the enemy. Many of Montana’s rivers were thrashed in the past 200 years, used for sewage or contaminated by mines. A grinding, multigenerational struggle has returned them to their current legendary status, but there’s more to be done. “Without the policy changes, or cultural changes that let policy change, the Montana that I grew up in, the Montana that I love so much — the streams, the rivers and fish and the ospreys and eagles and lynx, you name it — won’t be here,” Byorth said. “Won’t be here for my kids and my grandkids.” Yet water is also necessary to grow the food we eat and to supply drinking water for the homes in which we live. Water management in Western states is far from simple, especially with its complex history. Stewarding the resource successfully will require approaching the task on a case-by-case basis, so that communities within basins come together to decide how their watersheds should be managed. Partitions between and within communities will have to be dismantled, replaced by citizens rallying over shared goals. Otherwise, the contradiction of the West will persist. People will come to seek the solitude of a quiet stream and fish beneath vaulting skies, but in doing so will contribute to the demise of their surroundings. In seeking to enjoy the marvels of this Western landscape, we stand to instigate their disappearance. More than any other resource, water has defined the region’s past and will continue to define its future. Water cannot be an afterthought in the West because here, we’re not getting any more.

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Two days of music curated by Mike McCready

B I G S K Y, MO NTANA J U LY 5 & 6 , 2 019

JULY 6

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featuring a joint performance with

MIKE McCREADY/PEARL JAM CHAD SMITH/RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS DUFF McKAGAN/GUNS N’ ROSES TAYLOR HAWKINS/FOO FIGHTERS JOSH KLINGHOFFER/RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS additional performances by

BRANDI CARLILE

JULY 5 THUNDERPUSSY

Paige & The People’s Band Caspar Babypants

additional performances by

Infinite Color & Sound Dammit Lauren & The Well Special Guest Appearances

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FEATURING

CHAD SMITH

MIKE McCREADY

TAYLOR HAWKINS

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DUFF McKAGEN

JOSH KLINGHOFFER THUNDERPUSSY

INFINITE COLOR & SOUND DAMMIT LAUREN & THE WELL

CASPAR BABYPANTS

PAIGE & THE

BRANDI CARLILE MTOUT L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN PEOPLE’S BAND

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YVON CHOUINARD THINKS FOOD COULD SAVE THE PLANET

Yvon Chouinard at his ranch in Wyoming

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PHOTO BY JEFF JOHNSON / COURTESY OF PATAGONIA


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BY EMILY STIFLER WOLFE WITH HANDS THICK AND WEATHERED FROM DECADES OF ROCK CLIMBING AND BLACKSMITHING, YVON CHOUINARD PILES VEGGIES ONTO A PLATE FOR LUNCH.

Focused on the organic salad bar at Patagonia’s Ventura, California, headquarters, he selects spinach, kale, romaine, edamame, radishes, fennel, quinoa, cashews. By the end he’s got a bit of everything. Literally. In flip-flops, a short-sleeved button-down and what he told me earlier are 20-year old pants (all Patagonia), Chouinard shuffles over to the hot bar where an employee serves us mashed sweet potatoes and black bean patties (“These are really good,” he says, grinning.), and then to the checkout counter. As founder and owner of the leading outdoor clothing and gear retailer Patagonia, Chouinard pays for his food in the company’s subsidized cafeteria, just like everyone else. Seated at one of the long tables, we hunch together to hear each other as employees pass us on their way to eat outside. “What’s important is a varied diet,” he says, “as many different things as you can get.” He’s referring to the unique nutrients of each veggie on his own lunch plate, but also to eating foods like eggs from free-range chickens, which themselves consume a wide range of plants and insects. Now 80, Chouinard is all of 5 feet 4 inches tall but remains a giant in the world of rock climbing and conservation. He established cutting-edge climbs in the U.S. and Canada during the sport’s 1960s and ‘70s golden age and got his start in business by forging steel climbing gear in the late 1950s, which he sold out of the back of his car to fund outdoor adventures. Patagonia is now a billion-dollar company that’s donated more than $100 million to grassroots environmental causes. It has long been an innovator in apparel, visual storytelling and activism. A diehard outdoorsman, Chouinard spends around half his time fly fishing and surfing, and half at work. But he’s not sitting at a desk trying to sell more clothes. He’s out to stop the climate crisis, and he wants to do it through agriculture. “We’re losing the planet. We really are,” he told me earlier that morning in his office upstairs, his voice gravelly. “And I’m not going to let it go without fighting, so we have to try harder.” Chouinard, who is sometimes compared to conservation greats John Muir and David Brower before him, has become increasingly vocal about the role of private business in protecting the environment and public land. Maybe you’ve read how the company’s philanthropic giving has benefited the bottom line, how it sued the Trump administration for rescinding a million acres

of southern Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, or how PHOTO COURTESY OF RODALE INSTITUTE it backed Senatorial candidates including Montana Democrat Jon Tester, a conservationist and public lands advocate. Both Chouinard and Patagonia will likely become even louder as they try living up to the company’s new mission: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” For Patagonia, that means going carbon neutral and nonextractive by 2025, getting deeper into politics, and boosting support for conservation work — Chouinard estimates within five years they’ll be giving $50 million annually to grassroots environmental groups. And in 2012, he started Patagonia Provisions, a separate division of the company that sells sustainably produced and harvested foods like organic grains and responsibly caught salmon. Its goal is to create a market for climate-friendly foods. If this seems a far cry from outdoor clothing, think again. Patagonia has woven its interest in agriculture into textiles since switching to organic cotton in the 1990s after new T-shirt shipments made staff sick at a Boston retail store. Treated with formaldehyde like many garments, the shirts woke Chouinard to the toxic nature of conventionally grown cotton. But, with little industry demand, Patagonia had to create its own supply chain, something it’s since done with hemp, wool, Yulex (a wetsuit fabric made from tree rubber instead of the petroleum-based neoprene), and now food. >> Future farmers learn regenerative organic practices in a training program at Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

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I really believe we need a revolution, [and] the only revolution we’re likely to have is in agriculture.

“AGRICULTURE AS IT RELATES TO FOOD IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTORS TO CLIMATE CHANGE,”

said Birgit Cameron, managing director for Patagonia Provisions. Indeed, agriculture and associated land-use account for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of water consumption, according to research conducted by the World Bank. But, Cameron says, through regenerative organic agriculture, food may also offer solutions. This style of land management uses a combination of older farming techniques including crop rotation, reduced tillage, cover crops and livestock integration. The practice can increase yields, reduce costs, improve water and soil quality, and sequester carbon. The idea is to have the water, nutrient and energy cycles mimic those occurring in nature, says Dwayne Beck, research manager at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Pierre, South Dakota, and a leader in the field.

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“If you don’t do that, then the ecosystem collapses. You’re mining,” said Beck, also a Ph.D. professor in South Dakota State University’s Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science Department. The field is growing quickly and studies show it could help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, among them hunger and climate change. Project Drawdown, a science-based proposal to roll back greenhouse gas emissions within 30 years, rates regenerative agriculture as number 11 in the top 100 existing solutions. Beck cautions we need more peer-reviewed science to define which techniques are truly regenerative. Organic production, for example, can be unhealthy for the environment and humans because it’s difficult to accomplish without tillage, and organic pesticides aren’t regulated or tested at the same level as commercial ones. Practice standards are also needed, and those should be defined with input from consumers and farmers, Beck says, not big business.


Yvon Chouinard in his original blacksmithing shop at the Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, California PHOTO BY TIM DAVIS / COURTESY OF PATAGONIA

LAND: YVON CHOUINARD

But none of that is stopping Patagonia. “We know enough to run down this road as fast as we can,” Cameron said. “If we wait for perfection, it’ll be too late.” This has meant supporting producers, educating consumers and joining partners, including the Rodale Institute, a research and educational nonprofit, and the soap company Dr. Bronner’s, in creating an independent Regenerative Organic Certification. On the clothing side, Patagonia this past year started a pilot program with 166 farmers in India to grow organic cotton using regenerative practices on two- to five-acre plots. The farmers also turned a profit with their cover crop, turmeric. Next year, the pilot will include around 475 farmers, proving that the industry can create jobs. One of the challenges for the regenerative agriculture movement will be largescale adoption, although there’s momentum there, too: In early 2019, General Mills, one of the country’s largest food manufacturers and producer of Cheerios, Annie’s and Yoplait, pledged to advance regenerative agricultural practices on a million acres by 2030. For Chouinard, Patagonia Provisions has shown that business is capable of doing more good than harm, for both the planet and for humanity. That’s why he wants to prove that the better something tastes — like a tiny wild strawberry compared to a big store-bought organic one — the more nutritious it is. People will pay for that, he says, and it’s the key to success. During our time together at the Patagonia headquarters, he brings nearly every conversation back to food. I hear how he finally got worms in his home garden (filtering out chlorine from his hose water), about the cancer-reducing properties in wild-grazed bison meat, and about the effects of industrial agriculture on the human microbiome and the environment. I even score his sourdough pancake recipe. In Chouinard’s view, all these things are connected. We are all connected. But he knows efforts like Patagonia’s would have to gain traction worldwide to make a difference. “Every business needs to change their mission statement to saving the planet,” he says. “I really believe we need a revolution, [and] the only revolution we’re likely to have is in agriculture. It solves a tremendous number of the world’s problems.” Modifying business objectives may be a tall order in the profit-driven world of modern capitalism but it’s critical, and like all lasting change, Chouinard says, it can only start small.

THE MAKING of a CONSERVATIONIST From his 1975 first ascent of the Diamond Couloir on Mount Kenya, an ice climb that no longer freezes, to the tens of thousands of Yellowstone River cutthroat trout he saw killed by disease and warming stream temperatures in 2016, Yvon Chouinard has had front-row seats to more than a half-century of environmental change. His new book, Some Stories:

Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport (Patagonia Books, April 2019), offers an inside look at how outdoor adventure made him the outspoken environmental advocate he is today. The collected stories are in turn insightful, touching, provocative and funny, and it’s easy to imagine Chouinard recounting them around a campfire. His ultimate message is that our society needs to make fundamental changes. He writes: “Planning and decisions need to be made on the premise that we’re all going to be around for a long time.”

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RUBBERTRAMPING / P. 112

CONSIDER THE POTATO / P. 116

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C U LT U R E

KNOW YOUR

ROOTS

What 11-year-old Montanans say about family history BY BELLA BUTLER

The search for one’s identity is a central component to life. Despite varying backgrounds and circumstances, the craving for sense of self is consistent among us all. But what defines our individuality may be more dependent on our upbringing than we thought. Physchologists at Emory University in Atlanta found that family stories play an instrumental role in the development of children’s identities. Based on their research, kids who were more aware of their extended families and backgrounds displayed “higher levels of emotional well-being.” Montana’s budding generation believes it. Here’s their take: >>

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The 11-year olds

Mickey | BIG SKY:

Mickey is entering the sixth grade. He is fun, wild and sweet, and a lover of all sports, especially skiing.

Carley | FRENCHTOWN:

Carley and her twin brother were born on Christmas Day. She loves to play hockey, ski, craft and snuggle with her dogs. Most often she can be found with her nose in a book.

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Harper | BIG SKY:

Harper is a rising sixth-grader in Big Sky, where math is her favorite subject. When she’s not in school, Harper can be found exploring mountains, floating rivers or playing soccer.

Matthew | BIG SKY:

Matthew is a pitcher for the Big Sky Royals, but also enjoys football and basketball. He loves skiing in the trees and terrain parks, and is the first Montana native in his family.


CULTURE: KNOW YOUR ROOTS

How do you like growing up in Montana?

Where do you think that you learned that?

Mickey: It’s been great. You have a lot of opportunities to do different things here. Carley: It’s a lot easier because there aren’t as many people. It’s quieter, and there is less pollution and trash. Matthew: Good, because there are lots of activities you can do. Harper: It’s my favorite. I would much rather live in Montana than where my parents are from because it’s so wild and free and there’s so much forest.

Mickey: Friends, family and experiencing life. Carley: In New York, from learning how my mom grew up. She taught me about respecting land, and my dad too because he was a forest ranger. Matthew: School, probably. Harper: My parents and living in Montana. When we take a trip to where they are from, I can see the change in how they treat the environment. It’s not as nice as we treat it in Big Sky.

What are some things in your life that you think make you who you are? Mickey: I am who I am because of my family and the mountains. Carley: Hockey and track. I also like to decorate, something my mom showed me how to do. My family also makes me who I am. My dad was adopted, which I think is cool, and he is from Norway, which I think is really cool. He likes to travel, and so I also like to travel. Matthew: Sports and the outdoors. Harper: I am really wild, so wild is a part of me. My family and the forest and Montana makes me who I am. Why do you think your parents chose to raise you in Montana? Mickey: I’m going to guess they like it because it’s a beautiful place. Carley: I think they raised us here because it was a lot different from where they grew up. My mom is from New Jersey and my dad is from Minnesota, and it’s kind of crazy there. Matthew: Probably because they knew it snowed here a lot, and there are lots of activities. Harper: Because it is more open and there is more skiing. It’s good to know about where my parents are from because you can grow up and learn to appreciate places that don’t have so much traffic and buildings. What is an important life lesson you have learned? Mickey: It’s not always you in life, you have to think of others. Carley: There’s a lot more space in Montana, and I think we need to respect that. Matthew: Don’t always assume, because you get what you get. Harper: You always have to love nature, no matter what happens.

How important is it to know your heritage and where you come from? Why? Mickey: It’s kind of important because then you know your heritage for if you ever need to inform people, like in a ski contest. When I know about my family, I feel love from them all. Hearing family stories makes me think about who I am. It feels cool to know that you have family from so long ago. It makes me feel connected to all the generations. Carley: I think it is kind of important because it makes you who you are, and it gives you your accent. If your parents aren’t from there they’d be different, and that might make you different, too. People tell you stories to share culture. I kind of feel that my dad really wants to get the blood test because he wants to know his roots, too. Matthew: Yeah, because it’s cool to learn about it. It’s a part of you and without it you wouldn’t know much. Harper: Yeah, I think it’s really important. Knowing your family helps you know about yourself. If I didn’t know where I came from, I would want to learn about it. Being around my family teaches me how to act. My family teaches me to be open to everyone. If you have kids one day, what will you tell them about your childhood? Mickey: [Montana] is an amazing place where you can get the best pow or the worst pow or the perfect dirt or the worst dirt. You can do anything you want, any day you want. I’ll tell them so that they can know their family history, their heritage. Carley: I wouldn’t really talk about that, I would just go there and show them. Matthew: It was really cool growing up, and there is a lot to do in Montana. Harper: I loved being in Montana because you could ski and there were lots of forests to explore; you could be free. It’s important for them to know that I had a life, too. I think that will help show them who they are.

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Teton Valley

Lina Marquis

DISCOVER

Explore mountain tops and scenic trails, fish world-renowned rivers, delight in must-try restaurants, and bike endless miles of trails—whatever you’re searching for, it’s all waiting in Teton Valley, Idaho.

EC Courtesy of TR

Camping? Stop by the Teton Basin Ranger District headquarters in Driggs for permits and information.

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SECTION: SUBHEAD

BY EDNOR THERRIAULT

My family traveled all over Montana when the kids were still young enough to survive without a Wi-Fi connection, and we always car camped. For this middle-age dad, the activity is in keeping with my personal credo of life, liberty and the pursuit of a comfortable chair. The car camping I’m talking about here, though, is called rubber tramping, a hobo idiom that means traveling by car or truck and sleeping in your vehicle. After a summer spent crisscrossing the state researching a book project, I learned several valuable lessons about rubber tramping — many the hard way — and I’d like to share my acquired wisdom of this intriguing, potentially delightful camping alternative. 112 MOUNTAIN IL L U S T R ATIO N BY KE LSE Y

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CULTURE: HUMOR

Here’s a little background: I decided to give rubber tramping a try after a few nights of “regular camping,” arriving at some farflung campground after dark and trying to set up my tent by light of headlamp. I’d emerge in the morning to find several neighbors gathered around my tent, gawking at what they thought must be a hang glider crash. After a couple of these episodes, the idea of pulling into a spot, setting the emergency brake and going right to sleep sounded pretty attractive. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. First, you have to be self-contained. Some things, like food and drink, are obvious. I keep a small cooler stocked with lunchmeat and cheese (and a few adult beverages) in case I get off the road too late to sample the local fare. A box of tightly sealed canned meals and dry goods like bread and crackers are a must, but make sure the lids seal tightly; field mice will breach your vehicle through an opening as small as a dime and you can kiss your Annie’s Cheddar Squares goodbye. The beauty of being self“I’d emerge in the contained is that you can sleep morning to find anywhere you can park your rig, within reason. It can be several neighbors tricky finding a hassle-proof gathered around spot in a town, though, and my tent, gawking at it’s crucial that you think it through — what will the scene what they thought must be a hang be tomorrow morning? You don’t want to wake up in the glider crash.” middle of a bustling farmers market, for instance. Church parking lots are usually a safe bet, but in an unfamiliar area I stick to campgrounds. Whether you find a Forest Service site or a glitzy KOA, it’s important to get an overview before you set that parking brake. Take the time to drive slowly through the entire campground and note the various inhabitants. You’ll see the newbies, typically young couples or loud families who failed to bring essentials like insect repellant, matches or food. Then there are the homesteaders, who tend to push boundaries of the 14-day limit. Their RVs sport large awnings festooned with Christmas lights, shading the propane grill and patio furniture that’s arranged on an indoor-outdoor carpet. They’ve installed a horseshoe pit. A mailbox post is pounded into the dirt out front. Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, it’s time to choose your home for the night. In my experience, the closer you can get to the bathroom, the better. I had this in mind last summer when I camped at a place disturbingly named Deadman’s Basin Reservoir

in central Montana. Navigating my little RAV4 along the muddy campground road, I chose a low spot among the trees right near the shore. On a nearby hill I spotted a stone outhouse, occasionally silhouetted by lightning like an old mansion in a horror movie. As a downpour drummed on the Toyota’s roof, I flattened the back seats and managed to stack all my gear on one side, creating just enough room for myself along the floor. I’d brought a new single size air mattress, but soon discovered that meant single bed, not single human body. I scrambled around like a chimp in a space capsule, knocking over stacks of gear, trying to make room for the mattress as it expanded. Once it was inflated, I crawled into my sleeping bag and stretched out on the mattress, which immediately bent into a U-shape and folded up around me. I slept fitfully, dreaming I was a chalupa. Before my next excursion, I swapped the RAV4 for a Honda Element, which looks like a Soviet-era ice cream truck and was initially marketed to 20-somethings who go boogie boarding and mountain biking and say things like, “What’s a phone booth?” Surprisingly, this strange-looking vehicle was instead embraced by baby boomers who go antiquing and do plein air painting and say things like, “Honey, did you iron my good jeans for the Eagles concert?” It’s also perfect for rubber tramping. The back seats can be removed, opening up a cavernous space with a floor as flat as a pool table. Although the Element has all-wheel drive, with roughly the same ground clearance as a vacuum cleaner it isn’t considered an off-road vehicle. At the James Kipp Recreation Area campground on the Missouri River, I found a spot among the fifth-wheel campers, bus-sized RVs and herds of ATVs. I’d never seen so much camouflage in my life. I don’t know what all those people were up to, but they sure didn’t want anyone seeing them do it. There was a water pump near the outhouse (in retrospect, a big red flag), so I decided to fill my water jug. What came out of the spout looked like that fluid that squirts out of a brown mustard bottle before the brown mustard comes out. The campground host wandered by and saw my look of horror. “It’s drinkable,” he said. “It’s been tested.” Oh, it’s been tested, I thought. Later that night I woke up in the pitch-black confines of the Element, and grabbed an empty jug rather than digging for my shoes to exit the car. In the morning, things became complicated… Here’s one last priceless piece of advice for rubber tramping: make sure your water bottle and your pee bottle are two completely different sizes and shapes. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

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SECTION: SUBHEAD

The volcanic ash, long winters, elevated rainfall and long summer days all combine to make the soil conditions in Fremont County, Idaho, ideal for producing superior seed potatoes. PHOTO BY HEATHER KAE PHOTOGRAPHY

Consider the

Seed Potato Where do home fries and hashbrowns, chips and French fries, gnocchi and mashed potatoes originate? You’ve probably never seen a packet of potato seeds for sale because potatoes don’t grow true to seed, like apples, they propagate vegetatively or asexually. Every year, farmers have to plant small sprouting potatoes, or seed potatoes, in order to reproduce the specific varieties they want, of which there are over a thousand. The Idaho Certified Seed Law prevents commercial potato growers from planting their own saved spuds, which have a higher probability of carrying disease. Instead, they’re required to purchase seed potatoes from certified seed potato growers to assure the health of their crop and the healthy proliferation of their specific varieties. Seed potato management areas have special pest management measures and inspection and isolation requirements to assure plants are less exposed to diseases like blight and Potato Virus Y, or PVY. Commercial potato production is not allowed within seed potato management areas due to contamination risks. Seed potatoes are tubers that are specifically grown to be free from disease, providing consistent and healthy yields when halved and replanted all across the country in warmer climates. The areas where seed potatoes can be grown are

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BY DOUG HARE

carefully selected from locations with cold, harsh winters that kill pests and mold spores, and warm summers with long sunshine hours and ample rainfall for optimal growth. Chances are that the last loaded baked potato you ate had its origins in southern Idaho, a region that produces more seed potatoes than any other in the United States. Nestled at the southern edge of the Yellowstone Caldera, the soil around Ashton, Idaho, is rich with volcanic ash and the altitude and snowpack help, providing a long winter deep freeze that cleanses the soil of mold spores and other pathogens. Outside of Ashton in greater Fremont County lies the world’s largest seed potato farming area. Seed potatoes were not tried as a crop until 1920, but farmers quickly realized that their soil and climate conditions were ideal, similar to the Peruvian Andes where potatoes were first domesticated some 9,000 years ago. You might not get that impression driving through the quaint town of Ashton, but that’s because most of the action happens underground, off the beaten path with the scenic vistas, mountainous backdrops and the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River drawing the eye more than the endless, rolling, finely combed dirt fields fading into the distance. On the first day of May, third-generation seed potato farmer Tom Howell is in downtown Ashton, where massive grain


CULTURE

elevators tower over Main Street and an occasional freight train pulls directly into town for a grain refill. Many of the shops don’t look like they ever open for business. Howell seems to make small talk with everyone who passes by on the sidewalk. It’s a small town with a population that hovers around 1,000. “Everybody knows each other ‘round here,” says Howell, as he pulls out his keys and opens one of the closed-up shops. Still, due to its geographic location near so many national parks and recreation areas, Ashton reports nearly 2 million visitors a year: sightseers, outdoorsmen and passers-though alike.

Above: A team of seasonal workers inspects the crop for deformed, damaged and diseased specimens before they can be labeled as certified Idaho seed potatoes and shipped off to be planted at commercial potato farms around the country. PHOTO BY DOUG HARE

Below: Inside a storage cellar, seed potatoes are stacked high and kept in closely monitored conditions for heat and humidity in order to prevent mold spores and other pathogens from damaging the crop. PHOTO BY HEATHER KAE PHOTOGRAPHY

Letting me in, what looked like a thrift shop turns out to be a museum of sorts: Native American relics, souvenirs from the now-defunct Bear Gulch Ski Area, early 1900s newspaper articles about the American Dog Derby, WWII artifacts, and, of course, exhibits about the history of seed potato farming in southeastern Idaho are jam-packed into a space oozing with nostalgia. For a hardscrabble town founded in 1906, Ashton has acquired its fair share of history. According to some dusty magazines on the counter, agriculture has always been the lifeblood of Ashton. Shortly after the first settlers arrived in the 1890s, several canals were developed to divert water from streams running off the Yellowstone Plateau and Teton Range. But soon, settlers discovered that some farmland, mostly to the east, is high enough and close enough to the Teton Range that crops can grow without irrigation due to increased rainfall making its way from a weather corridor extending to the Pacific coast. >>

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CULTURE: CONSIDER THE SEED POTATO

After a brief tour, Howell tells me he has already sent the seed potatoes from his 1,500-acre farm to market, but he’s taking me up to Baum Farms to see the process of exporting certified disease-free seed potatoes—one of the busiest times of the year for farmers in the area. The regular growing season usually begins in mid-May, and harvesting starts mid- to late-September depending on soil temperatures. On the ride out of town, Howell opens up, pointing out a new irrigation system and the names of all the farms we pass along the way. “Oh, we grow all kinds of potato varieties, but the farmers around here prefer to put Russet Burbanks on their own plates.” Although he worked in the ski industry in his younger years, Howell eventually returned to his roots as a third generation seed potato farmer and has been supporting his family since 1971, despite some years when the harvest barely paid the bills. “For me, I enjoy the variety of tasks of seed potato farming. There is always something different to be doing,” Howell said as we pulled up to Baum Farms where a series of conveyors belts are moving an endless stream of seed potatoes through machines designed to remove rocks and other debris. “It’s really a family operation with my son and I doing most of the work until we hire migrant workers to help out during the busiest times of year.” The inside of the cavernous potato cellar is a sight to behold, especially when filled with mountains of seed potatoes. The climate control system and ventilation apparatus are much more high-tech than the humble exterior of the cellar would suggest, but absolutely essential in keeping the crop from degrading during storage periods lasting up to a year. The movement of seed potatoes from the cellar is nothing less than mesmerizing to watch. They travel through a series of conveyor belts, heavy machinery and a row of workers methodically picking out damaged and diseased specimens, past the watchful eyes of a statecertified inspector, and finally onto a truck filled to the brim with now-certified Idaho seed potatoes. Driving home to Montana, after the hypnotic spell of thousands of dancing seed potatoes had worn off, I began to think about the how the seed potato farmers in Fremont County leave their old farming equipment in their fields on display as a salute to a bygone era—a museum exhibit in plein air. While the technology of farming seed potatoes has visibly improved over the last century, so much about farming the humble seed potato remains the same. It offers a connection to the land, the dignity of a hard day’s work, continuity between generations of family members working the fields together and, at the end of the day, a delicious sustenance to help us persevere through the hard times. Pass the ketchup. M T O U T L AW. C O M / MOUNTAIN

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JULY 12 - 14 | ALTA, WY TROMBONE SHORTY AND ORLEANS AVENUE DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS LOS LOBOS GALACTIC TAJ MAHAL QUARTET THE MOTET ANDERS OSBORNE NICKI BLUHM DUMPSTAPHUNK RYAN BINGHAM LARKIN POE AMY HELM HAWTHORNE ROOTS THE COMMONHEART FOR TICKETS, CAMPING, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER INFORMATION VISIT: GRANDTARGHEE.COM GRAND TARGHEE RESORT

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2019

6X EVENT OF THE YEAR

BIG SKY PBR July 25-27, 2019 | BIG SKY, MT 2019 Music Lineup Thursday, July 25 MUSIC IN THE MOUNTAINS: HAYES CARLL Friday, July 26 Saturday, July 27 JAMIE MCLEAN BAND HELL’S BELLES

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

Ania Bulis

HAAS BUILDERS

ALLATIN IMBERWRIGHTS

HARLEY-DAVIDSON

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Thursday July, 25

PBR Bull Riding

*tickets available!* bigskypbr.com


Crafted in Tradition Special Advertising Section

Collecting, protecting and remembering recipes and dishes that loved ones have cooked for generations is a tradition that many trace back to their heritage. Food has the ability to evoke feelings of nostalgia, transporting us back to familiar places and bringing about feelings of contentment and comfort. While individual experiences undoubtedly influence culinarians, whether home cooks or professionally trained chefs, most say their upbringing forms the roots of their culinary tree. In an increasingly innovative world of cooking, pressure to keep pace with trends while also maintaining fresh recipes creates both a challenge and a creative outlet. We asked a dash of regional chefs how their personal traditions play a role in their cooking. Through their words and recipes, we discovered that culinary choice runs as deep as the roots of family history. – Carie Birkmeier

CULTURE: RECIPE GUIDE

“I was 16 years old in San Francisco when I made my first spring roll. Little did I know that I would spend more than 10 years making them in the Northern Rocky Mountains of Montana. And that includes the years when the rule was ‘No Spring Rolls on Powder Days.’” - Alexandra Omania

Lotus Pad Asian Cuisine 47 Town Center Avenue D1, Big Sky, Montana 59716. lotuspad.net. (406) 995-2728

Lotus Pad Spring Rolls 4 4 1 4 4 8 8 8

rice roll wrappers (rice paper) shrimp, (cooked, cut in half) cup rice vermicelli noodles tablespoons shredded cucumber tablespoons shredded carrot  pieces red leaf lettuce  springs cilantro mint leaves, (torn)

Boil vermicelli noodles 3-5 minutes or until al dente then strain. Blanch shrimp in boiling water 3-5 minutes. Peel and shred cucumber on large blade of mandolin, then peel and shred carrot on small blade of mandolin. Fill a large bowl with warm water, dip one wrapper for one second to soften. Lay wrapper flat. In a row across the center, place two shrimp halves, handful of vermicelli, carrot, cucumber, mint, cilantro and lettuce, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce. >>

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Michaelangelo’s Ristorante Italiano 75 Center Lane, Big Sky, Montana. (406) 995-7373, michaelangelosbigsky.com

"After apprenticing under several classical trained chefs across northern Italy in the late '90s, keeping the role of tradition alive at Michaelangelo's in Big Sky is a key aspect to our philosophy, techniques and structure, which we bring to the table every evening.” -Michael Annandono

Gnocchi al Prosciutto con Fontina

Potato Gnocchi with Prosciutto and Fontina Cheese Sauce

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Serves eight Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

In a large stock pot, boil 1.5 gallons of water and add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Cook potato gnocchi until al dente.

2 tablespoons butter 1 cup prosciutto, sliced thin in strips 1 cup heavy cream 10 each: basil leaves, chiffonade 1 cup fontina cheese, cubed 4 cups tomato basil sauce 1/2 tablespoon Parmigiano-Reggiano 3 pounds potato gnocchi, cooked Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pan, sauté the sliced prosciutto in butter until browned. Emulsify with 2 tablespoons of the pasta water to stop the prosciutto from browning. Add heavy cream and reduce for 2-3 minutes or until thick. Add basil leaves and fontina cheese. Stir for one minute until cheese begins to melt. Finish with tomato basil sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toss cooked pasta in sauce and serve.

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CULTURE: RECIPE GUIDE

Tanglewood 730 Boardwalk Avenue Suite 10, Bozeman, Montana. (406) 551-7437. tanglewoodmt.com

Crispy Pork L‘ ollichop’ with spicy Thai red curry Serves 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 16 hours Pork: 2 pork foreshanks (12-14 ounces) or pork shoulder, cut into blocks ½ cup salt 2 cups coconut milk Red curry: 15-ounce can Thai coconut milk 1 tablespoon fish sauce 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice 2 teaspoons sugar 1 tablespoon red curry paste 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger 1 teaspoon turmeric A day before serving: Brine shanks for two hours in salt and coconut milk. Set a sous vide circulator to 81 C / 178 F. After brining, remove pork and place in vacuum bag, place bag in the water bath, cook 16 hours. On serving day: Heat coconut milk on stovetop. When hot, add remaining ingredients, bring to boil and reduce to a five-minute simmer. Remove pork from the water bath, toss in spice mix and pan-fry four minutes. In two bowls, combine pork and 5 ounces of curry to each. Add garnish (recommended: house-made pickles, green tomato kimchi), and fresh cilantro.

“The restaurant Tanglewood is all about community. Our chefs, including myself, lean heavily on our past traditions and experiences. From my Jewish grandparents and mother (sweet potatoes with zatar) to my personal experience (pork shank), the menu is based on a tradition of hard work and learning. And Tanglewood itself is establishing new traditions: a culture where community and good food go hand in hand.” - Jarrett Schwartz

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Richard & Claire G E N E R O U S LY P R E S E N T

thursdays 2019 LINEUP

June 20 SISTER SPARROW & THE DIRTY BIRDS June 27 TURKUAZ July 11 CARRIE RODRIGUEZ July 18 REMEMBER JONES July 25 YOUNG DUBLINERS August 1 PINKY & THE FLOYD August 8 THE ACCIDENTALS August 15 RECKLESS KELLY

6-10pm

VICTOR CITY PARK

STAY IN TETON VALLEY FOR FREE MUSIC & UNBEATABLE FUN!

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1 | BURCH BARREL GRILL/FIRE PIT

MADE

IN THE

You’ve seen gas, you’ve seen pellet and you’ve seen charcoal grills — but you ain’t seen nothing quite like the Burch Barrel. Made with steel and aluminum for maximum durability and portability, this grill is a barbecue pit-master’s dream, transforming with ease from a conventional charcoal grill, to smoker, to suspended fire pit in a matter of seconds. Its pistol-grip mechanism allows access to the coal pan without removing food or grates, and an interchangeable locking collar allows for versatility in grilling surfaces. To top it off, with double-walled construction you won’t burn your hands breaking down this baby at night’s end. Smoke or grill up some grub, feed the mouths, then gather round the fire with a nightcap — all with the same slick product. Visit burchbarrel.com for availability and pricing.

WEST:

Ah, summer in the Northern Rockies. With days “almost arctic in length,” as famed Montana writer Norman Maclean put it in his classic novella, A River Runs Through It, these warmer months were tailor-made for this corner of the country. Whether you spend the days floating rivers with inner tubes in tow, testing the appetites of brown trout in your favorite honey hole, scaling open granite faces, or simply idling in the abundant wildflowers, cap them off with a good ol’ Western barbecue. The smells and sounds of a barbecue done right — the smokiness of charcoal starting to burn; peals of laughter from kids playing hide and seek; aroma of sizzling brats and steaks; sharp cracks as friends open cans of local brew — remind us all year long of the sense of community and family that pervade on these cherished evenings. So fire up the grills, ice down the drinks and serve up this summer’s backyard barbecues with products sourced exclusively from Montana, Wyoming and Idaho in our beloved Northern Rockies. −The Editors

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PHOTOS BY JENNINGS BARMORE


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2 | BUCKSKIN JIM’S COWHIDE COZIES Pulling off a barbecue party can be a juggling act: flipping burgers, wrangling kids for a game of tag and stoking the campfire flames. Luckily, keeping your drink cold and easy-to-grip is made simple with a Buckskin Jim Cowhide Cozie. Fashioned in Great Falls, Montana, using genuine, handcrafted cowhide, each nonslip cozie is flame-heat branded with images of Montana and its impressive wildlife, including moose, elk and bear. $8.40 buckskinjimmt.com

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3 | WYLD GEAR 75-QUART PIONEER COOLER

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Wyld Gear’s 75-Quart Pioneer is the Rolls Royce of cooler technology. With a patented divided-chamber design, barbecue revelers will never again stress over arranging food in coolers to keep the wet, wet and the dry, dry. And with extra-thick insulation, beverages will stay ice cold (the cooler still had ice three days after this photo shoot) and preheated foods at optimal temps. The Casper, Wyoming, company threw in a few bonus features, such as a lifetime warranty, heavy-duty steel wheels and a pressure equalizer valve for easy lid opening ... oh, and an option to accessorize with a fishing rod holder kit and a tap kit (just in case you really want to get the party started). $399 wyldgear.us

4 4 | KATABATIC CHICO HOT SPRINGS AMBER ALE Good food is only as good as the drink that washes it down. This summer, look no further than Katabatic Brew Co.’s Chico Hot Springs Amber Ale (ABV 5.2%, IBU 30) for a perfect barbecue beverage. Brewed in Livingston, Montana, the northern gateway to Paradise Valley, this medium-bodied American amber ale boasts well-balanced caramel, dark fruit and toasted flavors, a malt character, and just enough Chinook and Cascade hops for a presence of citrus and pine. Crack one open, and say “ahh...” Visit katabaticbrewing.com for vendors.

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5 | STIO RALSTON CANVAS JACKET Living in the shadow of the mighty Teton’s, Jackson Hole natives have an acute passion for outdoor living, and their iconic outfitter, Stio, knows how to gear them up for any condition. The Stio Ralston Canvas Jacket provides an ultra-comfortable solution for chilly nights in the Northern Rockies without sacrificing any of the durability and ruggedness called for in the region. Featuring durable, stretch-canvas fabric, custom Stio metal snap buttons, classic work-wear style patch pockets and a double-layer of fabric across the back for increased durability, this jacket will protect you from the elements at barbecues for many seasons to come. $159 stio.com

6 | BRANDED WAGYU BEEF

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The team at Branded Wagyu is passionate about every step in their process of bringing to hand the finest beef around. Their Black Wagyu cattle are bred and raised on one Montana ranch, by one family and one manager, an approach that gives Branded Wagyu the ultimate in quality control and end product: deliciously marbled cuts of beef for amazing flavor. A super beef of sorts, Wagyu is known for its rich, buttery taste and for being so tender it actually melts in your mouth. Branded Wagyu’s cattle are raised in Lewistown, Montana. Visit brandedwagyu.com for details.


GEAR: MADE IN THE WEST

7 7 | BEEHIVE BROTHERS HOT SAUCE Summer barbecues are a synthesis of heat and food, from bursting bratwurst over hot charcoal to marshmallows dangled over open flame (or plunged into it, depending on your s’moremaking philosophy). Beehive Brothers hot sauces, made with chili peppers sourced exclusively from small farms in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, will bring your barbecue cuisine to new heights (and heats). Ranging from mild to spicy, these sauces are available in “Habanero,” “Green Glean,” “Red Ripe Serrano,” “Cayenne” and “Jalapeño” flavors. Visit the Beehive Brothers’ Facebook page for available sauces, pricing and vendors.

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8 | MONTANA CEDAR ADIRONDACK CHAIR

9 | BEHRING MADE PINTAIL KNIFE

Every grill master loves two things: grilling all things over flame and steel, and the moment they can remove the terrycloth from their shoulder, grab a burger, and rest their barking dogs (feet, not the yapping hounds the in-laws brought to the party). Handcrafted from solid Western Red Cedar by Montana Woodworks, the Montana Cedar Adirondack chair is just such a place to relax after a job well done. This durable chair folds up for easy transportation and storage — just be sure to call “dibs.” It’s much harder to convince someone to leave its comforts. $329.99 montanawoodworks.com

From slicing up hunks of meat to whittling down wood, a good knife is the ultimate outdoor accessory that comes in handy time and time again — and in more ways than one. Since its formation in 2011, Missoula’s Behring Made knives have burst onto the scene as one of the premier American knife makers. The Scagel Style Pintail (pictured) is hand-forged from 1/8-inch thick, high-carbon 01 tool steel, and measures 4 inches from tip to guard. With a razor-sharp hollow grind, signature hammermark finish, soldered brass guard and a premium sambar stag-antler handle, this luxury blade has no twin, as no two Behring Made knives are exactly the same. Visit behringmade.com for available knives and pricing.

10 | HEADFRAME NEVERSWEAT BOURBON WHISKEY Butte’s Neversweat Mine featured unusually cool temperatures for miners in the early 20th century, but ironically the mine heated up as more and more miners descended into its ever-deepening caverns. Headframe Spirit’s distillery in Butte drew inspiration from the mine and distilled the Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey, a rich-bodied spirit with immense depth of flavor made from a blended mash of corn, rye and wheat. Pair Neversweat’s sweet finish and its hints of caramel and vanilla with steak, burgers and other barbecued delicacies and you’ll find one smooth combo. Visit headframespirits.com for vendors.

11 | WEST PAW DOG TOYS Barbecues are an all-around family affair, so while you gnaw on steaks and baby back ribs at the table, remind Fido he’s part of the gang with West Paw, Inc.’s patented Zogoflex chew toys: pictured are the Boz Dog Ball (small: $12.95, large: $18.95) and the Dash Dog Frisbee ($18.95). Zogoflex is an ultradurable, non-toxic, dishwasher-safe, buoyant and delightfully chewy material that drives dogs crazy, and toys come in three varieties — solid (Zogoflex), hollow (Zogoflex Echo) and air-injected (Zogoflex Air) — for dogs of all chew-toy persuasions. westpaw.com

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Stio.com | #lettheoutsidein | Visit a Stio Mountain StudioÂŽ Jackson Hole | Teton Village | Park City Charles Smith wades across fast water to reach a prize trout on the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs, Colorado // Noah Wetzel


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BIG SKY, MONTANA JULY 21, 2019 BIGSKYARTAUCTION.COM

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DENNIS ZIEMIENSKI | “EL CALIFORNIO” | OIL S U B J E C T TO S A L E P R I O R TO AU C T I O N

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ADVENTURE THE CAT CH AND REL EAS E OF

How the Father of Modern-Day Fly Fishing Saved Himself BY MICHAEL SOMERBY

IT WAS JAN UA RY OF 1955 when Joe Brooks first

The Father of Modern Fly Fishing, Joe Brooks, netting an brown trout at the 1963 Championship Trout Tournament at Argentina’s Lake General Paz. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JOE BROOKS FOUNDATION

cast into the rich waters of Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego, astonishing the native onlookers. The archipelago, on South America’s southernmost tip, is famous for gusting sea winds so powerful that trees warp into permanently mangled, unnatural forms; casting a fly with any semblance of precision was unheard of, yet Brooks rolled out cast after cast on target. He then doubled down on the spectacle, landing a monster sea-run brown trout, and proceeded with the unthinkable— releasing it, alive, back into the water. “His casting and his ability to fight the winds blew these Argentinians away,” said Joseph Brooks, Joe Brooks’ great nephew. “They fished with a ‘catch it, kill it’ belief, so for him to release this impressive of a fish was inconceivable.”>>

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Baseball legend Ted Williams (left), Joe Brooks (center) and famed photographer Charlie Ebbets (right). The three were best friends and fishing buddies in the Florida Keys for many years. PHOTO BY CHARLES C. EBBETS/ EBBETS PHOTO-GRAPHICS, © 2019

JOE B ROOKS WAS A PRO L IF IC

American angler, a pioneer of modernday fly fishing, who pushed the envelope on what was thought possible with a fly rod, untethering the sport from decades of worn-out convention. His ascension was a lifelong one marked by passion for adventure and respect for game fish and the environs they inhabited, but also by a generosity of spirit that influenced anyone who encountered it. Brooks mentored the likes of Big Crosby, Jack Niclkaus and Red Sox great Ted Williams, as well as fly fishing legends Lefty Kreh and Stu Apte, the latter dubbing him “a second father”; he played a pivotal role in the founding of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, an organization dedicated to bringing the joys of fishing to young men with an emphasis on promoting conservation. Brooks also wrote about his experiences, publishing missives in simple, charming prose for the likes of Field and Stream, The Baltimore Sun and Outdoor Life—his ability to communicate fly fishing and its transcendental splendors led to written works still considered leading gospel by the sport’s patrons. “He’s just one of those people that had that charisma, a wonderful and generous

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man,” said John Bailey, proprietor and son of the eponymous founder of Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop in Livingston, Montana. “He just impacted fishing so deeply, and in so many ways.” Yet, in true hero’s fashion, Brooks’ road to legend revealed an imperfect character. By 1930, many thought Brooks was dead, and like so many marred souls,

I think my life was altered by knowing Joe Brooks, absolutely ... Spending time with Joe, trying to emulate him, made me a better person.

-Stu Apte

he’d once shown tremendous promise. A natural-born athlete, at just 17 years old Brooks was a top prospect for the Baltimore Orioles. He’d been admitted into Princeton University (albeit briefly, getting the boot after just one semester), and had married into the Dickey clan, one of the most prestigious and wealthy families in the Mid-Atlantic.

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Despite these gifts of character and aptitude, his charmed life unraveled into seemingly irreversible turmoil. Brooks abused his newfound social status gained in marriage, raging through the roaring ’20s with little acknowledgement of his mounting troubles with alcoholism and a penchant for brawling. Brooks and the distinguished debutante Arline Dickey divorced four years after their marriage, and as the glimmering prosperity of the decade was replaced by the Great Depression of the 1930s, so too did the sheen disappear from Brooks—he vanished, without a trace, into the sadness that blanched the spirit of a onceproud American people. Lore surrounds those mysterious years. Brooks is rumored to have played semi-pro football in California. Another tale has him assisting an elderly man with a trapping outfit in remote Michigan. Some claim he was among the earliest competitors in a precursor to the multibillion faux-wrestling industry, grappling in the Lumberjack Circuit of Minnesota. He would speak little of that time. What is known is that Brooks eventually landed in Toronto’s Wood Sanatorium, a secretive and experimental facility dedicated to treating alcoholism as a disease and not a moral defect, among the first of its kind. Released for a second chance at life, a sober 36-year-old Brooks chased respite by fishing the eddies of Maryland’s streams and rivers, a gentler pastime of a younger self. It was a rekindled passion that transformed Brooks from a pariah into a celebrated god of fly fishing, definitively securing him a throne in sport’s pantheon, and allowed a oncedormant kindness to blossom. “I think my life was altered by knowing Joe Brooks, absolutely,” said Stu Apte, a fellow fly-fishing hall of famer and renowned author. “Spending time with Joe, trying to emulate him, made me a better person.”


ADVENTURE: JOE BROOKS

THO S E WHO FLY FIS H know the sport is imbued

Above: Brooks smiling upon a brown trout on a Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock outing in Maryland. Center: A Converse advertisement featuring Brooks, underscoring his prolific influence in American sporting. Below: Brooks fly fishing for bonefish on Florida’s saltwater flats. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE JOE BROOKS FOUNDATION

with a tacit mysticism and reverence for wildlife other sects of fishing struggle to achieve. Fly fishing requires the angler to imitate nature with such precision as to join it. There is no room for compromise, presentation must be near perfect and, when refraining from overtackling with heavy synthetics, a hard credo of Brooks’, the engagement is one of fairness and respect; no contest between man and beast is so undecided from first strike. “When you’re fishing with 20-plus-pound test [fishing line], unless you completely fatigue there’s just no way you can lose that fight. The fish will never break the line,” said Brooks’ great nephew Joseph, who together with brother Michael produced the 2018 documentary, Finding Joe Brooks. “But when you’re fly fishing, there’s this sense that either side could win. It’s a fair contest, and Joe valued that.” Joe Brooks’ regard for game fish extended beyond the fight. A true sportsman of well-made integrity, Brooks allowed his opponent to fight again in an act known as “catch and release,” a measure of grace he passed unto his Argentinian companions under sheets of rain and howling wind in 1955. Some could argue his greatest contributions were realized in far-flung nations, fishing not only fresh water but also brackish and salt, and landing record-sized species previously thought impossible to catch on a fly. Yet it’s that ethos, popularizing the release of what was landed, that made Brooks remarkable. “I think it speaks to his character, one-hundred percent a reflection of the regard he held the resource in,” said Flip Pallot, a student of Brooks’ best-known disciple, fly-fishing legend Lefty Kreh. Brooks’ understanding of what it meant to fight for life was intimate, and so the concept of catch and release was tailor-made. Perhaps Brooks saw himself in conquered fish, summoning bitter memories of a time spent floundering in the throes of a former self. Brooks understood even those with nothing left to give, in a state of complete and total vulnerability, should be honored with a second chance. Joe Brooks spent the late summers and autumns of his final years in Montana’s Paradise Valley, fishing the untamed rivers lined with quaking aspens and cottonwoods. He would die there in September of 1972, mere weeks after telling friends that when the time was right he wanted to “die with a fly rod in hand, facing upstream.” Not many get to choose the way they perish, as Brooks did. And he spent his last hours releasing trout and giving them the chance to fight again.

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Kene Sperry

www.kenesperryart.com

| 406-581-2574

NONS TOP HE ALT HC ARE

Big Sky Medical Center 334 Town Center Avenue Emergency Department 24/7/365 Retail Pharmacy Weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Whatcha’ got goin on!

Holmes Construction

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THAT WILL BE ME BY DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY, THE ROCK-FOLK PHENOM IS DOING WHAT SHE ALWAYS WANTED. AND BECOMING A SUPERSTAR.

BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

Outlaw: Brand Carlile

BRANDI CARLILE SOUNDS RESTED.

It’s her third day off in a row, something that hasn’t happened in the months following her monumental performance of the hit single “The Joke,” which she played on stage after accepting three Grammy awards in February. Since then, her life has been a cascade of concerts, interviews, TV gigs and fanfare. She appeared in Bradley Cooper’s film A Star is Born and released a new video of the song “The Mother” just ahead of Mother’s Day weekend in May. It’s to be expected. After all, these are the days of a rising star. And while they have been “insanely busy,” she says, on this warm spring morning Carlile is relaxing at her home in rural Maple Valley, Washington, about 45 minutes southeast of Seattle. She’s settling into a quieter life for now. “I’m just getting into the routine of waking up and feeling normal,” says the 38-year-old mother of two daughters. As we chat, 4-year-old Evangeline is playing with a water pitcher while Elijah, 14 months, casually munches edible flowers that

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Brandi and her wife, Catherine, planted on the deck to garnish Shirley Temples and salads. Carlile talks about her dad, who she’s bringing to Montana’s Peak to Sky concert in early July for his 60th birthday. She discusses a happy life and how she finds balance. “My individuality has become more important to me,” she says, “and assimilation has become less important to me since my kids were born.” Most mornings at home, the kids wake Carlile and she heads to the porch, coffee in hand, to gaze at Tiger Mountain. But even in the tranquil beauty of the Cascade foothills, she stays busy. On today’s agenda? Get outside and play with her latest toy: a 4-ton John Deere excavator. “I could stay on that thing all day long and not even know what hit me,” she says. “Today I’m gonna build a fire pit.” Later in the afternoon, she’ll mulch the fruit trees outside the cabin she bought 17 years ago, then water the plants and fry up sea bass for dinner. This is how Brandi Carlile relaxes. >>

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF WARNER MUSIC GROUP


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BRANDI CARLILE SOUNDS RESTED.

BY TH E AGE OF 7 Carlile was already performing. Her mother, Teresa Carlile, was a country music singer and would invite Brandi and her two siblings, brother Jay and sister Tiffany, to sing with her on stage. Her father was a bit of an outlier himself, she says. “I’m sure I was already absorbing and gleaning some of those thoughts and habits at a really young age.” Carlile taught herself guitar and piano and later dropped out of high school to pursue her musical career, singing backup for an Elvis impersonator and busking in downtown Seattle pizza shops and beer joints. When she met Phil and Tim Hanseroth, twin-brother musicians from Seattle, Carlile was coming into her own. They began gigging together and in 2005, at the age of 24, Carlile released her self-titled debut album with the twins. But it was the title track from her 2007 album The Story that caught fire. The song was featured in commercials for General Motors and at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and subsequently played on the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy.

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The record Joke” among his saw Carlile favorite songs of emerging with an 2017. explosive voice Carlile’s and a penchant packed summer for writing raw, schedule blistering lyrics includes the about realities Bonnaroo and Above: Brandi Carlile strolls outside her home she believes in: Telluride music alongside bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth, the underdog, festivals, and who play the bass and guitar, respectively. redemption, dozens of concerts “Their connection to each other is enduring,” Carlile says.”They inspire me to write songs empathy, across the nation. that are better.” forgiveness, And she’s playing PHOTO BY PETE SOUZA authenticity. a July 6 show in Below: The cover of Carlile’s sixth and latest “…Something Big Sky, Montana, studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You about her shifted called Peak to from promise Sky, with a few to absolute close friends: certainty as Carlile let loose a hurricane Pearl Jam’s McCready, Chad Smith and of lung power,” one reviewer wrote in Josh Klinghoffer of the Red Hot Chili Paste magazine. Peppers, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters Since The Story, Carlile has been on and Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses. an ever-rising trajectory, collaborating on In September, she’s headlining Madison projects with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Square Garden. Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and comedian The once-self-proclaimed shy girl Will Farrell, among scores of others. She’s from Ravensdale, Washington, has let close with Sir Elton John and former loose her tenacious spirit. As country President Barack Obama named “The music legend Brenda Lee said in a video

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OUTLAW: BRANDI CARLILE

People can do more for their fellow human beings with their hands and with their minds than they can with

Carlile lays it on the line playing “The Joke” at the 61st Grammy Awards in February. Fans and critics alike have called the performance one of the best in the history of the awards. PHOTO BY PETE SALES

their money.

to Carlile: “Forget about the prom, girl. You are the prom.” A love for performing has held Carlile in the spotlight her entire life, but as the crowds have grown, so has the pressure. “Entertaining a room, getting a laugh, affecting someone emotionally, inciting empathy,” she says, “all that stuff that comes with entertainment that’s so fun, so emotionally exhausting, has to be balanced by my love of nature. I’m pretty much always fishing.” In August 2016, Carlile played a sold-out show at Missoula, Montana’s Big Sky Brewing Co. but barely made it through the piercing pain in her back. After a chiropractor tended to her at the show, she had to cancel the tail end of the tour. To distract herself, Carlile fished her way through the Mountain West, from Montana to Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. “It cleared my mind of all the anxiety and the stress of not being able to do my job properly. I made this decision … to every day get up, hire a fishing guide and go fly fish a river: the Blackfoot, the Bitterroot, the Gallatin, the Smith. It was epic.” Carlile also finds passion and balance through the nonprofit she started with the Hanseroth twins in 2007. Called the Looking Out Foundation, and directed by her wife Catherine, the organization aims to empower the voiceless and backs causes that include gender equality, human and civil rights, education, the arts and children from war-torn nations. Donations help, Carlile says, but boots on the ground are better. “People can do more for their fellow human beings with their hands and with their minds than they can with their money,” she says. “We don’t believe the great American dollar is the savior of the world.” Relating to the marginalized in society is something Carlile believes deep in her core. “The Joke” is about the kids (and others) who feel left behind in today’s world and Carlile belts it out with a conviction rarely seen these days. She sees winning at the Grammy Awards as a victory for entire groups of people.

At the 61st Grammys in February, Brandi Carlile put on an inspired performance deemed among the best in the history of the awards. Having just won three Grammys for “The Joke” and her sixth studio album, By the Way, I Forgive You, Carlile took the stage in a black-sequined jacket with her guitar, the twins and the band. It was a moment, the kind you see when someone lays it on the line. Call it the zone, call it Zen, call it flow. “I felt like I had snuck into the party through the backdoor and that I was being given a chance to just wear my heart on my sleeve,” Carlile told me in May. “I felt like that performance was just, emotionally, as an uncool kid, a complete victory lap and I just let it rip, you know? I just let it rip.”

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Cowgirl Katie Bell of Fort Belknap leaps over a stack of round bales of hay on the family ranch south of Harlem, Montana. PHOTO BY TODD KLASSY

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BUILDING PEACE OF MIND

O N S I T E M A N A G E M E N T. C O M MONTANA | WYOMING


Profile for Outlaw Partners

2019 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...

2019 Winter Mountain Outlaw  

With award-winning editorial content, design and photography, Mountain Outlaw magazine has been described as “Powder Magazine meets Rolling...