Opinion / A Place For All


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  • ROCKS for everyone

    Garry Swain, ROCKS|Apr 6, 2023

    by Garry Swain President ROCKS While it may seem like winter is never going to end for us here in the snow belt of Seeley Lake, the ROCKS crew is looking ahead to the next set of springtime duties. With all the recreational opportunities available to us in this area, we are never at a loss for things to keep the team occupied. The warmer afternoons have made a puddle of the ice rink, so our tasks there are now about cleaning up the shed, organizing the skates and figuring out a good time to take down the boards for another season. This was the...

  • When it's springtime in the Rockies

    Brett Zarling, Recreation Ranger Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks|Mar 30, 2023

    As I began to ponder what to write about, almost immediately my mind drifted toward springtime. Soon after, the song title “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies” by Gene Autry filled my mind. Most reading this article are probably too young to remember that song, including myself. So why would a song from 1937 come to my mind? My father often told me of his grandfather who was a cheesemaker in Wisconsin He would regularly sing this song while making cheese in his small cheese factory. I never met my great grandfather, but I enjoy imagi...

  • E Pluribus....Seeley!

    Robert Shaffer, Double Arrow Ranch Landowners Association|Mar 23, 2023

    When John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson proposed this motto for the Great Seal of the United States it summed up the determination of the fledgling nation perfectly. It also set the stage for the United States becoming the great “Melting Pot”. In this age of “Diversity” it seems as if the idea of a “Melting Pot” has become a dirty word, yet it seems to me that it is our only hope. I’m sure many will disagree with that sentiment, so let me explain. When I was in college in the early 1980’s, the idea of the Melting Pot beg...

  • The Largest Wetland Restoration Project in Montana's History

    Luke Lamar|Mar 1, 2023

    Back in 2015, Swan Valley Connections (SVC) had been contracted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to conduct vegetation surveys and create a map of vegetative communities across the entire 1,979-acre Swan River National Wildlife Refuge (refuge). The refuge is managed by the USFWS and was the first step to restore hundreds of acres of wetlands previously manipulated prior to the USFWS purchasing the property in 1973. The manipulations began in the 1920s when there was the nation’s largest muskrat fur farm on the property. The land w...

  • A Place for All

    Mark Hayden, Missoula Electric Cooperative|Feb 23, 2023

    Each year, the third Saturday in March is slated for Missoula Electric Cooperative’s (MEC’s) annual meeting. This year is no different when the Cooperative hosts their 87th annual meeting on Saturday, March 18. This meeting is not just important to the Cooperative’s Board of Trustees and employees, but it is also important to the Co-op’s owners, who are more commonly referred to as members. When a consumer signs up for electric service at MEC, they become a part-owner of the Cooperative –these consumers are known as members. Because MEC is a...

  • A swan success story

    Elaine Caton, Education and Swan Program Coordinator, Blackfoot Challenge|Feb 16, 2023

    By Elaine Caton, Blackfoot Challenge Education & Swan Program Coordinator The Blackfoot Challenge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began working together in 2005 to restore trumpeter swans to the Blackfoot watershed. Thanks to the support and hard work of many partners, landowners, teachers, and schoolkids over the years, we met our project goal in 2022, and the swan population here is now considered officially restored! The goal was to have at least seven successful nests for at least...

  • I Ride Seeley Lake

    Claire Muller, SLCF Executive Director|Jan 26, 2023

    People want to grow old in their community and the home they love, but getting the care they need can be a challenge in our beautiful, rugged, rural corner of the county. Nationwide, an estimated 3.6 million people lack access to proper medical care due to transportation issues. Here, in beautiful little Seeley Lake, we are doing something about that. Thankfully, in 2016 local folks from the Seeley Lake Community Foundation (SLCF), Seeley Swan Medical Center, Missoula Aging Services, Missoula Co...

  • Seeley Lake Ranger District highlights from 2022, looking forward to 2023

    Quinn Carver, District Ranger, Lolo National Forest, Seeley Lake Ranger District|Jan 19, 2023

    I wanted to take an opportunity to thank everyone for another great year. The ebbing of Covid definitely helped things to feel a little more normal. We did still have high usage of our campgrounds and recreation opportunities, but not at the levels we had the last couple of years. All in all still a good year. I will throw out a quick recap of some highlights from 22 and then go into a couple of big things happening in 23. Recreation – As I said, we had a good year this year but not as intense as the last two. Campgrounds were well used and d...

  • Shoemaker's treks in the Mission Mountains

    Steve Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Jan 12, 2023

    If you were to look at a map of the Mission Mountains 100 years ago, you would see a lot of blank space. Except for verbal descriptions and sketches shared by the early-day Native people, priests, trappers, hunters, and prospectors, the Mission Mountains were, for the most part, uncharted at that time. McDonald Peak was one of the few mountains named on the early maps. Most of the mountains, lakes, streams, and other features were not shown. Many of the place names on the present-day maps of...

  • Bears and Berries: Why Shifting Seasons Require Innovative Safety Measures

    Kayla Heinze, Vital Ground Foundation|Jan 5, 2023

    With the calendar turning to a new year, bears across the Northern Rockies are snug in their winter dens. The months leading up to this hibernation season were especially difficult for many of them, however, due in part to a poor summer crop for multiple berry species. Berries are a staple of the Northern Rockies, with long-standing cultural importance for the Indigenous tribes of the region. From mammals like deer and grizzlies to native birds and pollinators, the fruits sustain biodiversity across many landscapes. And with huckleberry pies,...

  • Ice Safety Tips

    Fire Chief Dave Lane, Seeley Lake Rural Fire District|Dec 29, 2022

    Before you fire up the snowmobile or get out the ice fishing gear, please follow some simple tips and use caution before heading out onto the ice. For new clear ice only UNDER 4” THICKNESS - STAY OFF 4” - Ice fishing or other activities on foot 5” - 7” - Snowmobile or ATV 8” - 12” - Car or small pickup 12” - 15” - Medium truck Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe. White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice. It’s a good idea to...

  • Big changes happening in local real estate

    Kevin Wetherell, Clearwater Montana Properties, Inc.|Dec 8, 2022

    By Kevin Wetherell Clearwater Montana Properties, Inc. The effect of rising interest rates Mortgage rates have more than doubled this year, as 30-year mortgage rates have risen from below 3% last year, to near 7% presently. As a result, the number of homes sold in Seeley Lake has dropped 30% over last year at this time. Although the number of homes currently on the market in Seeley Lake has risen to 16, most are no longer selling quickly as they have in the past. Looking at homes currently on...

  • Machine being tested could replace slash fires

    Bebe Crouse, The Nature Conservancy|Dec 1, 2022

    By Bebe Crouse The Nature Convervancy You may have seen a strange piece of machinery being towed through the area recently. It looks like a rail car-size dumpster mounted on tank treads. It's called a Tigercat Carbonator. It has nothing to do with producing fizzy beverages, but it will turn the woody slash piles left after forest thinning into a charcoal-like amendment that helps soil hold onto moisture and nutrients. The Nature Conservancy, public agencies and private landowners have experiment...

  • ROCKS rocks winter season

    Garry Swain, ROCKS President|Nov 24, 2022

    Snow and cold weather brought an early start to the winter outdoor activities season here in Seeley Lake. The ROCKS team is in high gear helping the Nordic ski group ready the yurt for the cross country skiing season and getting the ice skating rink ready for flooding. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that I'm writing this just as Thanksgiving descends upon a snowy white Seeley Lake, because this year I'm feeling especially thankful about many things, not the least of which is the Canadian...

  • Bear awareness during hunting season

    Rebecca Ramsey, Executive Director Swan Valley Connections|Sep 29, 2022

    Grizzly and black bears are found throughout our region and this is the time of year that bears are in hyperphagia. This is a time when bears increase their feeding activity driven by the need to fatten up before going into the den for the winter. Once they enter the den bears go without food and water for months. If they do not get enough to eat in the fall, the sows don’t produce cubs and some bears may even die of starvation. We try to remind people this time of year to really pay attention to containing any attractants around their home. K...

  • Biological controls increase weed management options

    Karen Laitala, Powell County Weeds Coordinator|Sep 22, 2022

    When I started my job as the weed management projects coordinator for the Powell County Weed Board several years ago, I inherited a project that began with my predecessor in cooperation with the (now defunct) MSU Sheep Institute. This project involved importing sheep to prescriptively graze with cattle across several contiguous livestock operations in the Deer Lodge valley, primarily targeting the noxious weed leafy spurge. Data collected by the coordinator(s), extension agents and cooperators...

  • Creating a working landscape for all

    Jennifer Schoonen, Blackfoot Challenge|Sep 15, 2022

    As passersby take in the Blackfoot watershed's forests, waterways and wildlife, many have no idea that a unique concept to benefit all community members came to life in the heart of the watershed – with the creation of a community forest known as the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area (BCCA). Back in 2003, recognizing the increasing potential for habitat fragmentation, the Blackfoot Challenge and The Nature Conservancy initiated a large-scale land acquisition effort known as the Blackfoot C...

  • Maintaining healthy waters

    Amanda Zelnis, Clearwater Resource Council, Big Sky Watershed Corp. Member|Sep 1, 2022

    Here in the Clearwater Valley, so much of our lives revolve around the presence of healthy lakes and streams. This valley contains the waters where our kids catch their first fish and where our families recreate to find respite from the busyness of life. These bodies of water are essential components of our economies. Here in this place and in this time, our stories as individuals and a community are deeply connected to the water. As residents and property owners in the Clearwater Valley, we...

  • Managing workplace conflict

    Claire Muller, Executive Director, Seeley Lake Community Foundation|Aug 25, 2022

    I want to share with you a tool that I love. The Waterline Model is a process for resolving team breakdowns. This tool can help you distinguish between the common issues that bog teams down and be deliberate about how you address them. It has helped me get through many vexing situations. We all have experienced conflict with others, whether in the workplace, in a volunteer situation or in whatever capacity we have worked in a team environment to implement a project. The Waterline Model was...

  • Ten years of preserving history

    Sharon Lamar, Upper Swan Valley Historical Society|Aug 18, 2022

    A dream became reality when the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society (USVHS) celebrated the grand opening of the Swan Valley Museum on July 4, 2013. Longtime residents Neil and Dixie Meyer cut the ribbon that officially opened the museum to the public. Twenty-five years earlier, on March 10, 1988, the first meeting of the USVHS was held at Evelyn Jette's residence. The next week officers were elected: Ken Wolff, chairman; Bud Moore, vice-chairman; Fern Kauffman, recording secretary; Claudia...

  • Grizzly DNA monitoring in the Sapphire Mountain Range

    Lena Beck, Vital Ground Foundation|Aug 11, 2022

    The one-track roads leading from Stevensville, Montana, into the Sapphire Mountains are lined with wildflowers like beargrass and lupines by early July. As the truck climbed, the view of the Bitterroot Valley got better and better, as it was a clear, sunny day with temperatures in the 80s. I was tagging along with Russell Talmo, a program associate for Defenders of Wildlife, and Gypsy, Talmo's seven-year-old German shepherd. Talmo goes into the Sapphires monthly to check on six field sites....

  • Motor vehicle accident tips to help maintain safety

    Seeley Lake Fire Chief Dave Lane, Seeley Lake Rural Fire District|Aug 4, 2022

    Summer has arrived and the seasonal population influx around Seeley Lake has also arrived. The campgrounds and outdoor activities are much more active as the community grows. The increased movement increases our highway traffic. Visitors unfamiliar with our scenic roads will not be as attentive toward driving, as people tend to look at surroundings rather than focusing on the road. Motor vehicle accidents happen. Should an accident occur please consider the following: • Call 911 immediately and emergency crews will respond. • If you are inv...

  • The ebb and flood of lumber

    Bryce Smith, Office Admin and SFI Coordinator, Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc.|Jul 28, 2022

    The last several years have certainly seen no lack of breaking news topics. Thankfully, the Seeley-Swan Valley of Montana continues to offer a mostly quiet refuge from much of the excitement faced in other areas of the country. Topics of discussion seem at times to change like seasons, which are rolling by more quickly with each change. It wasn’t all that long ago that the headlines discussed a record lumber market with homebuilders and home buyers catapulting the industry to levels of demand unseen before. A perfect storm of sudden demand m...

  • Achieve better health, one step at a time

    Molly Attwater, Nutrition Educator, Montana State University Extensions|Jul 21, 2022

    With so many trends and diets out there it can be hard to figure out what to honestly believe. The external pressure to look and feel specific ways, the households we grew up in as children, our geological location and the cultures we immerse ourselves in are the elements that help shape who we are. Here is my quick breakdown of 12 simplified steps that you can take, starting today, to help you achieve better health! 1. Drink More Water Our bodies can’t survive long without water. Seventy-five percent of our brain and muscle matter is made u...

  • Tips to clean indoor air, stay healthy this wildfire season

    Sarah Coefield, Air Quality Specialist, Missoula City-County Health Department|Jul 14, 2022

    It's Wildfire Smoke Ready Week in Missoula County! I know - after such a cool start to the season, it's challenging to shift gears and start thinking about wildfires. But this week of warm, sunny days is ushering us closer to our traditional wildfire season in Western Montana and that means smoke. Smoke season in our area spans late July through early September. Happily, it is rarely smoky during that entire period but even a week or two of smoke can be a major bummer. In addition to obscuring...

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