Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 26, 2015

Concerning my home where the Buffalo roam

When I has attending the Zumbrota (Minnesota) Elementary Schools in the 1950’s, we were obliged to sing one solo every year in Mrs. Solberg’s music class and every year I chose the same song, “Home on the Ranch”. Apparently my fascination with the American West continued well into adulthood as evidenced by the fact that my spouse and I moved west in 1970 and have lived there ever since. About 35 of those years were spent in Montana which as the locals liked to claim was the “last best place”. While living there, I experienced first-hand the dream I apparently had as a child and found that the reality of life in Montana was even better. While Kathy and I now spend portions of the year in the states of Washington, Minnesota, and South Carolina in order to be nearer our grandchildren and their parents, we are pleased that new schedule takes us through the vistas of Montana three or four times per year.  Along with the changes of seasons and daily sunlight, they never disappoint.

While living in that distinctly outdoor environment, however, it was impossible to not notice the profound effects of global warming. Examples of these included the steady disappearance of the glaciers in Glacier Natural Park.  Of the 200 or so that early settlers counted only about 20 remain and they are expected to be gone in another decade or two.  Also, when my family first moved to Bozeman in 1975, we “enjoyed” at least one week of -40 F temperatures every winter.  I use the word, enjoyed, here because those periodic low temperatures kept the Pine Bark Beetles in check.  Cold snaps like those don’t occur anymore and the resulting proliferation of those beetles has killed every Lodgepole Pine tree in Bozeman, including the half dozen I transplanted on my small lot from nearby forests in ’75.  Those small trees grew to maturity during the next 25 years and then were suddenly done in during the warmer first decade of the 21st century. Similarly affected pine forests are now seen all over the American West.

Because the concentration of greenhouse gasses has continued to rise since then, I am sure that the environmental degradation of Montana and the West will continue and will do so at an ever faster rate. The evidence for this is being continuously compiled and I will sign off now by referring you to a report just issued by the Montana Wildlife Federation.  See it at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/12/22/3734414/montana-climate-change-costs-jobs/ In this report, you will note both the physical degradations occurring in Montana and the huge financial losses this state can expect as that “last best place” continuously changes into a distinctly less best place.

In counting the many blessings my family has received during our lives, to date, one is certainly that we were able to live in and experience Montana when it really was the best – a place where the deer and the antelope did, in fact, play on just about every square mile of it and thanks to Ted Turner, some Buffalo did too. All of this was provided by the accumulation of huge mountain snow-packs in the winters leading to a multitude of crystal-clear trout streams throughout the summers – things that are changing rapidly as we speak.


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