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Articles written by Randi De Santa Anna

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Re-Inhabiting Burned Lands

Fires alter wildlife’s food, water and shelter forcing animals to either adjust or find new homes. In an intense fire, the complex humus layer on the forest floor gets charred, depleting nutrients and causing soils to repel water. Erosion is greate...

 

How Does Wildlife Survive Fire?

Wildlife has evolved with fires over the eons. Though wildfire certainly takes its toll, not as many animals die as one might expect. However, more animals die if fires occur early in the season when babies are still being cared for or if fires are s...

 

The Chemical Messages in Smoke

Smoke. More smoke. Ridiculous amounts of smoke. That has been what we in Seeley Lake have been breathing and looking through since July 24th. We know the smoke is impacting our health but how is it impacting the trees and plants? Plants breathe and p...

 

Yarrow: A Common but Incredibly Healful Medicinal

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is one of my favorite flowers because it is tough and the deer don't seem to like it. Its shallow roots make transplanting easy and it tolerates some neglect in the...

 

The High Cost of Permanence

As the Rice Ridge fire pressed down upon us and I prepared to evacuate, my belongings felt like a burden. Protecting them was clearly not worth the loss of someone’s life. I couldn’t help but wish that our culture lived on the land differently....

 

Huckleberry Season

The huckleberries are on! These wild, sweet berries define living in the Rockies for many. I love eating huckleberries but I love picking them more. Moving slowly from bush to bush I experience the...

 

Lodgepole Attitude

by Randi de Santa Anna When the bark beetles were in full swing I copped an attitude against lodgepole pines. They seemed weak and a waste of space in the forest. But I have come to understand their...

 

Bringing Beauty to Barren Lands

If you have ever hiked into a year-old burn, you most likely know what fireweed looks like. The appearance of its tall, pink flowers covering the recently blackened slopes is as reliable as the appear...

 

Lupine Lessons

The robust flower spikes that paint our forest floor purple are lupines. Though lupine seedpods look a lot like domestic peas and specific species were cultivated for thousands of years in the Andes...

 

"Butterfly" Lilies in the Forest

I am so appreciative of the many successions of flower blooms here in Montana! After the remarkable beargrass show we just had down in the valley, the mariposa lilies have come on in full force....

 

Quaking Wild

When I first moved West in the 1970s I fell in love with aspen trees. They symbolized wildness and spontaneity, new adventures and breaking away from entrenched paths. My youthful anthropomorphizing aside, it’s hard not to like an aspen grove with...

 

Yes, Bears Eat Beargrass

It's a good beargrass year. The slopes on either side of Highway 83 are filled with their tall, crazy looking flowers. It's worth taking a drive or hiking up a trail to witness how beautifully their...

 

Camas Culture

As you drive along Highway 200 through Potomac you can see several purple-tinged fields off to the north. The purple color is camas flowers. Camas, Camassia quamash, is in the Lily Family. The root...

 

Montana Roots

I didn't fully appreciate how incredible our balsamroot bloom was until we took my mother to the Bison Range. Mom was a flower gardener and had lived back East her whole life so we weren't sure how...

 

Larch Love

The larches that have looked dead for the past six months have not disappointed us. They have greened up! Oh happy day! Our mountains are once again adorned with that incredible praying mantis green....

 

Sedges Have Edges

If you take a walk through the woods right now and look close to the ground you'll see tiny, chaotic puffs of creamy yellow at or near the top of what looks like blades of bunchgrass. But they aren't...

 

More Colors on the Land

A glorious little flower found early in the spring among the sage and bunchgrass is the yellow fritillary or yellow bell, Fritillaria pudica. It's a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae) and it blooms...

 

A Beauty of Spring

Springbeauty started blooming in the grasslands of the Seeley Swan Valley in early April and its bloom will gradually work its way up in elevation. It is in the Purslane Family (Portulacaceae). One...

 

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