Blog Posts In Conservation

2016 Orvis Guide Rendezvous Keynote Delivered by Wade Fellin

Last weekend, Wade Fellin had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the annual Orvis Guide Rendezvous in Missoula, MT.  

As many of you know, in addition to managing the Big Hole Lodge with his father, Craig, and guiding the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Bitterroot, and Missouri, Wade is program director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, a water quality advocacy NGO based in Bozeman, MT. 

Wade's message was simple yet important: fly fishers must all work together to protect the clean water future of our fisheries.  We'd like to share his speech here and encourage you all to join and support your local watershed groups!

2016 Orvis Guide Rendezvous Awards Banquet Keynote 

Taking the Oars 
by: Wade Fellin

Before my father ran a fly fishing lodge, he enlisted in the Marine Corps to fight in Vietnam.  We’ve never talked about his experience, but his two best friends from his platoon found our Lodge online 10 years ago and randomly showed up with their own 17-year-old sons.

One of these men had a bushy gray mustache, curly gray hair and went by “Night-train.” After two days of calling him this, I finally gathered the courage to ask why.  He explained that in Vietnam, he was assigned to mortars, and it was his duty to light the night by firing illumination over the jungle. One time he slipped as he fired, toppling the cannon and sending a white, fiery ball horizontally at his team.  The commanding officer dove out of the way just in time. He later exclaimed that he thought he was surely getting run over by a goddamn night-train! The name stuck.

After the war, Dad pursued his passion for the outdoors, and Night-train moved to Lake Tahoe to pursue his passion for reading Mark Twain. He took to the water like Huck and Jim and became the Ghost of Twain reciting stories on Tahoe’s river boat, the M.S. Dixie. 

Now in his early seventies, Night-train has come to look like Twain, he is full of wisdom, and he’s a hell of a lot better speaking in front of a crowd than I am! When Orvis called me and asked me to speak tonight, I called Night-train the next day.

He said, “Just last weekend I was invited to speak to a bunch of fly fishermen in Redondo Beach. I am not a fly fisherman. But of course, as the Ghost of Mark Twain, I’m able to speak on the subject at length.”

The fly fishermen and women were everything I expected them to be: cordial but formidable, jovial but refined, and downright fly-fisherman-friendly. Show me a fly fisherman and I’ll show you a gentleman. Might be the river, the fish, the company, or the heavens above, but the recipe seems to attract and produce noblemen and women of the blood roy-al!

But, I’ve never been to an Orvis guide rendezvous. nor have I interacted with many guides. Good luck – I doubt they’ll want to hear fish stories!”

I don’t dare tell you all any fish stories. I can only tell you what I’ve learned, about the rivers I’ve fallen in love with, and what I think we need to do to protect them. 

But first, thank you all for being here. Thank you Orvis for hosting this wonderful event.  Thank you to the Perkins Family and the Orvis staff for fostering these friendships, facilitating these business meetings and creating a learning environment that has proven to be so helpful to each of our operations.

Not to mention, this weekend is a blast, and to that end, I want to thank Missoula for putting up with this beard and Carhart convention!

What I’d like to share with you tonight is my perspective on our world of fly fishing: where the sport was almost thirty years ago and where I think it’s going. My perspective has largely been shaped on the Big Hole River, which is why preserving my father’s legacy means so much to me. And the lifeblood of that legacy is the river.

My father moved here to Missoula from Pennsylvania in 1974. He working as a security guard at the airport and on his lunch breaks he hung out at the Streamside Angler, then owned by Frank Johnson and Rich Anderson.  They gave him all the advice he needed to hone his kills as a fly fisher and he fished between shifts in a white shirt, tie, and black slacks on these Missoula rivers.

He headed to Aspen in 1978 and guided for Chuck Fothergil along with George Odier. Both were famous for nymphing without an indicator and swore by the Western Coachman. While in Aspen, Dad met my mom, a Bozeman native, and they decided to start a fly fishing lodge. In 1983, with Fothergil’s blessing they headed north through Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, searching for their perfect spot and founded their business on the banks of the Wise River, just up from the Big Hole River. 

At that time there were very few lodges in the mountain west: Lonnie’s Three Rivers Ranch in Idaho, (congratulations to Lonnie for her lifetime achievement nomination tonight!) The Firehole Ranch near West Yellowstone, the Crescent H near Jackson, Wyoming and The Complete Fly Fisher just down the river on the Big Hole. 

Mom and Dad spoke with Phil and Joan Wright, the owners of the Fly Fisher to explain their intentions of starting another lodge just 8 miles upstream.  Phil responded by taking Dad down the river to teach him how he fished it.

Back then the caddis hatches looked like snow storms. The salmon fly hatches were so thick cars would slide driving through the canyon.  There were very few people on the water.

I came along in 1988. Mom and Dad used to strap my bassinette to the fourteen foot avon.  I spent my childhood fishing the Wise River and my teens learning to row the Big Hole and West Fork of the Bitterroot. Now, after 10 years of guiding, I’m partnering with my father in a business he has spent 33 years nurturing, a business that has brought so much joy and knowledge and fulfillment to so many clients and employees and to both of us over the course of more than three decades.  Orvis once wrote in a Trout Bum of the Week article that my life was a charmed one as fly fishing goes and they were absolutely right. I’m almost embarrassed talking about how lucky and spoiled I am.

But I am immensely grateful for this incredible opportunity.  And I realize that with it comes a significant set of challenges. My generation, the majority of us now in this room, is inheriting a very different world of fly fishing.  Though each generation before us has had a responsibility to protect fisheries for succeeding generations and many in this room have done great work, we are now facing a much more urgent call to act.

Moving forward we are all going to have to work together.  I realize we guide and operate in a much more competitive business environment and throughout the industry many of us work in rather isolated spheres. But camaraderie exists in this room more so than anywhere else I’ve experienced in the fly fishing world. It’s similar to the camaraderie Phil Wright and my father shared. 

We have to work together now because our fisheries are on a slippery slope. Our climate is warming, our population is growing, and our rivers are suffering.

Bozeman, where I spend my off season, is booming as tech companies move in; many of these new residents spend little to no time on the water. Wisdom, Montana, where my mother’s family homesteaded, used to be full of multi-generation ranch families. Fewer and fewer of my generation are staying home to run the ranch. These family ranches are then being bought by corporate cattle companies who don’t have the same connection or appreciation of the unique landscape or know how to be good stewards of our special river valleys. 

The landscapes of the West are changing, and changing quickly, and though trout are often resilient to change, their ecosystems are not. There are no longer snowstorms of caddis on the Big Hole or the Jefferson. You’d be lucky to catch the salmon fly hatch for more than two weeks in June.  Moving forward, we must be proactive in protecting the quality of water that sustains these organisms. 

Over 40 years ago our nation’s leaders recognized that the waters of the United States were in trouble, and they set forth a strong system of rules based on science to reverse the degradation and pollution of our waterways.  That system has largely been viewed as red tape and in many cases, ignored all together.

To make this more concrete, here in Montana, less than half of our rivers get surveyed to assess their health every 10 years, as is required by law.  If a river is found to be unhealthy or hurting from some type of pollution, it can take up to 15 years for a clean water improvement plan to be created, much less implemented.

The reality is, although Montana is widely regarded as one of the Last, Best Places for fishing, its prize blue ribbon streams are at risk from the change we talked about.  It took a Montanan suing the state over 15 years ago to get the state to take the business of protecting–and restoring–rivers seriously.

Some of you know my dirty secret—I spend my off-season working with…gasp…hippie lawyers.

But they’re not as bad as they’re cracked-up to be—they’re worse!

I work for a Montana-based water advocacy organization called Upper Missouri Waterkeeper.  We’re focused on protecting and improving river and community health in the headwaters of the Missouri River Basin. For those of you not familiar with the area, I’m talking about the Big Hole, Beaverhead, Ruby, Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, Dearborn, Smith, and Sun, and the main-stem Missouri out to Fort Benton.

I truly believe we can protect our rivers, our fisheries, our businesses—before it’s too late. Local advocacy provides the catalyst for change that I believe every western river deserves. There’s a distinct need in the West for all of us who care about our rivers and fisheries to take the steps necessary to protect our most vital resource.  We can do this.

Here’s a tangible example of a small act going a long way:

Last summer, a fellow Big Hole River guide floated a new landowner past his property. The guide pointed at the eroding bank and said, “So now that you own this ground, what do you think about a fence?

“Why?”

“Keep the river from ripping away your property every year when the ice comes out.”

“How’s that?”

“The cattle that run on that property in the spring took out all the willows. Now the ice takes out the bank, making the river wider, shallower, warmer, more prone to algae and less conducive to insect life.”

Based on this conversation, the Big Hole River Foundation is temporarily fencing this mile-long section of river with grant money, and with a little willow planting, that section will stop getting wider, shallower, and warmer. Those willows will suck up a lot of nutrients that algae would otherwise flourish on, leading to a healthier, colder, cleaner river for fish and bugs.

We fishermen and women are lucky enough to be on the front lines of these issues with the opportunity to effect the most positive change for our rivers.  Rather than sitting back and using the resource while our home states ignore the problems and continue to rely on largely unsuccessful traditional practices in the face of a changing environment, we need to be steering the boat. This means not only educating ourselves on the issues in our watersheds, but also communicating our knowledge and suggesting solutions from the fly fishing community to the government decision-makers.  It’s too late to rely on slow moving bureaucracy.

And the future of our fisheries needs us to do more than “keep fish wet and clean up our tippets.”  We all need to get involved, and get our clients involved, in protecting our rivers. We don’t have to fight these battles alone.  One of the best ways to do this is by joining and supporting the local watershed groups working on the rivers we love.  The Clark Fork Coalition does incredible work, and the fruits of their labor benefit the entire Columbia Basin. And if you don’t have a local watershed group, form one. Guides in this room have and I’m sure would be more than willing to offer advice. Derek Young started a Trout Unlimited (TU) Chapter on his home waters in Washington. Mike Geary resurrected a TU Chapter on the Ruby and Beaverhead. 

In closing, we have the best job in the world and an incredible opportunity to spend our days on rivers, teaching people how important tuning out and connecting with nature truly is. We can turn a New York minute into ten minutes seated on a bank studying a rising trout. That transformation makes every day guiding worthwhile for me. As the boots in the water, we have the duty to raise awareness about threats to these fisheries. We are the voice for the voiceless.

Just as my father built Big Hole Lodge by hand and has shaped it into what it has become today, many of you in this room have spent your lives on rivers helping shape the fly fishing world into what it is today—a world exactly like Night-train described, a community of classy people who are deeply connected to the sacredness of nature.

Many generations before us have been forced to answer a call to action in protecting our country. We aren’t being sent to war. We have a choice to fight this battle. I’m going to do my best to help protect these fisheries so that our fly fishing community can flourish and I’m honored to do so alongside all of you.

Thank you Orvis for your proud commitment to protecting our rivers and clean water! And thank you. Thank you all for your time.

 

Orvis commits 5% of pre-tax profits to protecting nature.
Upper Missouri Waterkeeper is exclusively focused on protecting and improving waterways and community health throughout Montana's Upper Missouri River Basin. 
 

 

Wildlife Showcase of a Healthy Southwest Montana

The most spectacular and rewarding aspect of fly-fishing in Montana is knowing each time you step into the river there is a chance to intimately interact with the wildest and most beautiful creatures in the Rocky Mountains.  This summer has been particularly spectacular and we at Big Hole Lodge want to close our season by sharing a few of our favorite moments from our untamed backyard. Southwest Montana is healthy and flourishing!

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unnamed-1_MG_410210460262_10152404138197620_515361497023343886_n 10368215_10152475696012620_2520147587230546517_n   10653332_10152475693327620_8187220504057801051_n 10675521_980314399959_3255294140442966892_n 10696162_980001716579_5080249296106258490_nThank you to all who joined us this summer! We are deflating the rafts, battening down the hatches for the coming snow, and eagerly awaiting an even more incredible year in 2015. We hope to spend it with you!

Tight lines,

Craig, Wade, Lanette, and the entire Big Hole Lodge staff.

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14 Ways to Prevent Fish Mortality from Gink and Gasoline

A longtime friend and faithful client of Big Hole Lodge passed this article on to me and it is too important not to share. Thanks, Lewis!

14 Ways To Prevent Fish Mortality

20 COMMENTS / POSTED ON JANUARY 28, 2013 / BY 

image by Louis Cahill

"THE YEARS WE SPEND LEARNING TO CAST AND DRIFT A FLY OR THE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WE SPEND ON GEAR AND TRAVEL ARE ALL WASTED IF WE DON’T HAVE FISH.

With more anglers entering the sport every day, sport fish are heavily pressured and in grave danger. There are a lot of common mistakes that anglers make which contribute to fish mortality. Most are innocent and many don’t show an immediate risk. With that in mind here are fourteen tips to help keep our little friends happy and healthy."

-Louis Cahill

From barbless hooks to carrying a Coca-Cola, every angler should know these handling procedures:

CLICK HERE FOR 14 WAYS TO PREVENT FISH MORTALITY

Chris Winter Will Live On Through The Big Hole River

Dear friends and family of the Big Hole River,
Chris Winter was an avid fly fisherman, a conservationist, a ranch enthusiast and a loving father.  Last month he was taken from us.  

Chris WinterChris' family has passed on these words:

The Big Hole Valley in Montana has been a very special place to Chris and his family for many years. Beginning in 1988, they spent summer vacations on a ranch near Wisdom, Montana; a stretch of the Big Hole River flows just outside their small cabin. Chris was an avid fly fisherman, devoted to outwitting the wily trout of the Big Hole River. His time fishing on the Big Hole offered a peaceful retreat, a sanctuary for renewal. And, this is where he taught his daughters the art of fly fishing.

chris and nic

Chris was quite taken with ranch life and he was proud of the ranching skills his daughters honed over the years. Chris was known as “Chuck Wagon Dad”, supporting his daughters as they worked side by side with local cowboys, who generously shared their expertise and taught them to rope and brand calves, doctor sick animals, mend fences and drive cattle.

big hole

Given the wonderful memories and good times associated with this very special place, Chris’ daughters feel that furthering the important work of the Big Hole River Foundation would be a fitting tribute to Chris… so that he will live on through the waters of this amazing place that he loved so dearly. And, they will carry on the traditions created in Montana with their father, most importantly… pursuit of wily trout lurking in the Big Hole.

On behalf of Chris, we thank you for your contribution to the Big Hole River Foundation.  Donations may be made through the PayPal link above or checks or money orders can be sent to: BHRF, PO Box 3894, Butte, MT 59702.

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Farewell to a Legend: Al Troth

Al Troth, creator of the Elk Hair Caddis, and fly-fishing legend passed away at the age of 82.

 

From the Montana Standard: 
August 16, 2012 12:00 am  •  By John Grant Emeigh

BUTTE — There’s a point when a man can turn a simple hobby into an intricate form of art.

By being meticulous, innovative and creative, the late Al Troth took every aspect of fly fishing to a rarified stratum. To Tim Tollett, Troth was more than just a fishing buddy. He was a teacher and a mentor.

“He taught me all the nuts and bolts, all the tricks. He could just raise hell with those trout,” Tollett said.

Alfred Carl Troth, of Dillon, left the world and his beloved fishing holes on Aug. 3. He was 82.

But those who knew him — either personally or by reputation — say his influence on the sport of fly fishing should last as long as the snow-packed mountains feed the trout-laden rivers and streams.

Check any fly fisherman’s fly box and it’s likely you will find a bit of Troth’s legacy. In 1957, Troth designed one of the most definitive dry-fly patterns of all time — the elk hair caddis.

Chris Bradley, who is co-owner of The Stonefly Fly Shop in Butte, says the elk hair caddis remains one of the most popular fly patterns since it was first designed more than 50 years ago.

“It’s such a versatile pattern. It’s tried and true and a must-have in your fly box,” Bradley said.

Its genius comes in its simplicity: A little dubbing for the body, some hackle to give it bulk and elk hair for the wings.

“He designed it as an emerger (a fly that floats just beneath the surface of the water),” Tollett remembers Troth telling him.

But elk hair is hollow and it floats well on top of the water. It has since proven to be one of the most effective dry flies ever developed.

Troth started selling his caddis at Bud Lilly’s Fly Shop in West Yellowstone. Lilly said that Troth’s caddis was an instant success. While there were other caddis patterns on the market at the time, Troth’s was much more effective for Western waters.

Tollett, who has been operating Frontier Anglers Fly Shop in Dillon since 1980, first met Troth in 1977. He just went to Troth’s house in Dillon and introduced himself. Tollett was 21 and in Dillon to attend college. Instead, he attended the University of Al Troth.

“He was my mentor in fly fishing and taught me everything about the business,” Tollett said.

He started guiding for Troth before opening his own business a few years later. He still recalls Troth’s business lesson all these years later: Don’t spend more than you take in.

And it’s worked.

“You can take four years of classes at the college just to learn that,” Tollett said.

Troth grew up in Pennsylvania and worked as a metallurgist for Pittsburgh Steel, as an industrial arts teacher and was considered a master craftsman. He also had the reputation as a fantastic outdoors photographer. Tollett marveled at Troth’s innovative approach to getting the job done.

“He’d find the simplest way to do something and then do it,” he said.

He was a pioneer in photographing trout under the water.

“He’d put a camera in a Plexiglas box and take underwater pictures,” Tollett said.

The man’s skills as a fisherman were just as creative and sharp as his craftsmanship. Tollett would often fish with Troth on the Big Hole River, which was one of Troth’s favorite places to fish. The pupil always learned from the master.

“I always took something away from him when we went fishing together,” Tollett said. “He made casts that are still not in the books or captured in video.”

Troth’s son, Eric, said his father was dedicated to “practical perfection,” and he enjoyed the privilege of watching his father work.

“He was acutely attentive to the details of functionality as well as aesthetics. Seeing his ongoing commitment to excellence will be perhaps one of his greatest legacies in my life,” Eric Troth said.

Al Troth was known for appreciating the traditions and history of fly fishing. Troth always made a point to give credit to all the past fly tiers and the flies they developed.

Tollett hopes future generations will appreciate him and will get the respect of other legendary fisherman like George Grant and Dan Bailey.

“He was quite a person who definitely deserves recognition,” he said. “He was the father of many things.”

 

WHO you lookin' at?

I'm sure he spotted me long before I spotted him, but he was nice enough to pose for a drive-by on the way to the Beaverhead yesterday.  Apparently, this gigantic Grey Owl has been hanging out near Crystal Park for years and is quite friendly.

Check Out the New Orvis Fly-Fishing Learning Center!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/42638476]

The new interactive Orvis Learning Center is a video-based resource that’s free to anyone and available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, to answer your fly-fishing questions.

The meat of the Learning Center is the video lessons, hosted by me and Pete Kutzer. Eventually, there will be 13 different chapters available (the first 7 are up now), each containing about 24 minutes of video.

Check em out at: http://howtoflyfish.orvis.com/

Big Hole River Maps For Sale!

River Maps - The new Big Hole River maps are here and available for purchase. Check out the website at www.bhrf.org and order yours today!

Wolves in The Big Hole Valley

I slipped away from the U of M library this weekend for a much needed visit to Wise River and the Big Hole Valley.  La Nina has arrived and it looks like she means business.  Suspiciously absent from the snow covered fields were signs of wild life.  Where are the elk tracks?  Where are the deer? Where are the moose?  If any hunters or skiers have been out and about and have seen elk please reply!   In the meantime, check out the next chapter in the Big Hole's wolf saga:

New York Times

 After Years of Conflict, a New Dynamic in Wolf Country

By  of the New York Times

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="601" caption="Credit: Rich Addicks for The New York Times"]

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JACKSON, Mont. —   As a fourth-generation rancher, Dean B. Peterson has a complicated relationship with wolves.

In the 1880s, they preyed on his family’s livestock after his great-grandparents arrived as homesteaders along the Big Hole River. By the 1930s, wolves were nearly extinct as a result of traps and poisons. By the time Mr. Peterson was born in the 1960s, the traps had given way to nostalgic tales about how clever the wolves had been.

Growing up, he thrilled to the sight of any wolf and to the sound of an occasional nighttime howl. But as an adult, witnessing a rebound in the gray wolf population, he did not hesitate to shoot one when it passed behind his sons’ jungle gym and headed for the cattle pen.

“I do not dislike or hate the animal,” said Mr. Peterson, who calls wolves “an unreal species that God created.”

Instead, he resents the conservationists who pressed the federal government to reintroduce the gray wolf to the Northern Rockies in the mid-1990s. That decision was shoved “down our throat with a plunger,” he said.

Yet the dynamic between ranchers and conservationists has begun to change, and Mr. Peterson is surprised to find himself acting as a grudging mediator.

The turning point came early this year as lawmakers from some Western states were demanding that the government remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list, and cede control of the animal in Montana and Idaho to state governments. In April, they succeeded by attaching a rider to a budget bill.

Aghast, some environmental groups had a moment of reckoning. Had they gone too far in using the Endangered Species Act as a cudgel instead of forging compromises with ranchers?

So a handful began reaching out to ranchers, offering them money and tools to fend off wolves without killing them. And some ranchers, mindful that tough federal restrictions could be reimposed if wolf numbers dwindle again, have been listening. Tentative partnerships are cropping up, and a few that already existed are looking to expand.

Working through Mr. Peterson, People and Carnivores, a new nonprofit group that promotes “coexistence” has, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society,  built a five-mile, $15,000 electric fence adorned with flags to protect calves on a neighbor’s property. This summer, it helped pay for a mounted rider to patrol 20 square miles of grazing land shared by three ranches near Mr. Peterson’s as a deterrent.

“A lot of my neighbors think I am wet behind the ears to take money from these people,” said Mr. Peterson, who has not yet accepted aid for himself. “But the wolf is here to stay now, and my feeling is that those people who want it here should share the costs.”

The conflict dates back generations, but tensions soared in 1995 and 1996, when the government reintroduced 66 gray wolves in Idaho and in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The goal was to restore balance to the regional ecosystem: after the wolves died out, elk and coyote populations had increased alarmingly. Elk herds were destroying large tracts of vegetation, and coyotes had reduced second-tier predators like badgers.

The federal Fish and Wildlife Service set a minimum population goal of some 150 wolves, plus 15 breeding pairs, in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. To their surprise, the wolves hit those targets in just seven years and spread beyond the wilderness areas.

Livestock kills began to climb, and the ranchers grew angry. They even blamed the wolves for cows’ weight loss. “They come off the pasture on average about 100 pounds lighter than before there were wolves in the area,” Mr. Peterson said. “They spend so much time looking around, they don’t have time to eat.”

By 2007, the total number of wolves in the three states was 1,513. Surveying the evidence, the Fish and Wildlife Service sought that year to have the animal “delisted” under the Endangered Species Act. But conservationists sued to block that move, saying Wyoming lacked an adequate management plan. A federal court in Missoula, Mont., agreed.

In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service tried again to remove wolves from federal protection in all areas except in Wyoming. The court would not allow it, setting the stage for a revolt by lawmakers and this year’s unusual Congressional vote. The Interior Department then brokered a similar compromise in Wyoming.

Wolf hunts began in Idaho and Montana at the end of the summer. Montana set a quota of 220 wolves to be killed, or 25 percent of the state’s total population; the hunting tags sold swiftly, which some attributed to pent-up rage among the ranchers.

The backlash led some environmentalists to question their approach. “I personally look back and say there were a number of things that conservationists did that were not effective and which blew up on us,” said Lisa Upson, executive director of Keystone Conservation, a Montana-based nonprofit group that offers ranchers help with nonlethal control measures. “Now we have to live with this horrible precedent.”

So her group and others are pouring energy into training mounted riders to fend off wolves. They are promoting husbandry techniques that allow calves to grow stronger in penned areas before grazing on the range. Drawing on a folk wisdom that dates from medieval times, they have hung lines of red flags along pastures to deter wolves from approaching.

Most acknowledge that such measures are not a panacea. Michael D. Jimenez, the wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service outside Jackson, Wyo., says federal and state agencies have tried guard dogs, noise aversion (cannons or sirens set off by motion detectors) and “scent aversion,” or placing wolf urine and scat on trees, for years. “Each works in some circumstances,” Mr. Jimenez said, “but are not necessarily a match for a robust wolf population.”

And ranchers may not embrace such tactics. Once, after Ms. Upson thought she had talked some ranchers in the Upper Ruby Valley in Montana into sharing half the cost of a mounted summer rider, she found that they had used the money to pay for fuel for helicopters dispatched for wolf shootings.

Tensions between conservationists and ranchers in the Big Hole area have run especially high. Two summers ago, wolves took about a dozen calves from Mr. Peterson’s herd as it grazed in the mountains. He complained to the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency, which responded by shooting only one wolf.

In Mr. Peterson’s view, that was hardly a solution. He says the government’s response has been hampered by too many rules and too little money. Ranchers are often asked by wolf hunters to pay up to $350 an hour for the helicopter fuel, he said.

If wolves are going to be part of the landscape,Mr. Peterson decided, he wants ranchers to get their share of the money “the people in Los Angeles and New York send” to conservationists to find solutions.

So he will continue to work with environmentalists and try to persuade his neighbors to do the same.“I think I should be able to shoot on sight on my land, no questions asked,” he said, but “I am willing to do my part to try and adapt.”

NY Times in Wise River: Forest Health

Yesterday, the New York Times, reporting from Wise River, Montana, ran an interesting article discussing forest health and the growing concern regarding pine beetle kill and forest fires.  The link to the entire article is below:
TEMPERATURE RISING
With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors

(Click photo to view video)
By Published: October 1, 2011
courtesy of the New York Times 
WISE RIVER, Mont. — The trees spanning many of the mountainsides of western Montana glow an earthy red, like a broadleaf forest at the beginning of autumn.

But these trees are not supposed to turn red. They are evergreens, falling victim to beetles that used to be controlled in part by bitterly cold winters. As the climate warms, scientists say, that control is no longer happening.

Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days.

From the mountainous Southwest deep into Texas, wildfires raced across parched landscapes this summer, burning millions more acres. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state’s spectacular aspen forests have gone into decline because of a lack of water.

The devastation extends worldwide. The great euphorbia trees of southern Africa are succumbing to heat and water stress. So are the Atlas cedars of northern Algeria. Fires fed by hot, dry weather are killing enormous stretches of Siberian forest. Eucalyptus trees are succumbing on a large scale to a heat blast in Australia, and the Amazon recently suffered two “once a century” droughts just five years apart, killing many large trees.

Experts are scrambling to understand the situation, and to predict how serious it may become.

READ MORE

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