Sunday, July 06, 2008

Will January 2009 come soon enough?

I lived in Montana for about 2 years and it remains my favorite place on earth. When I think of wild, when I think of natural, when I think of the essence of the American West, I think of Montana. I remember the unbelievably frigid nights in the winter when I could hear trees crack from the cold; the crystal clear skies in which I could see more stars than I ever saw from anywhere else--even more than I remember growing up out in the sticks as a kid. I remember the Chinook winds which could bring a warm spell to break up some of the cold. I remember the wildlife, especially the elk season and the sound of there bugling, and the sometimes worrying but always exciting chance of seeing a grizzly. And I especially remember the smell of sage everywhere. It is also the place where I really got to know the girlfriend who later became my wife.

I was somewhat disappointed when movie stars began to buy up Montana land as I figured that they would bring Hollywood lifestyles with them and insist that Montana become citified. However, it seemed to survive even that well.

Now, thanks to the Boy George administration, the US Forest Service has completed a closed door deal to release 1.2 millions acres in western Montana for possible development into residential subdivisions.

"We have 40 years of Forest Service history that has been reversed in the last three months," said Pat O'Herren, an official in Missoula County, which is threatening to sue the Forest Service for forgoing environmental assessments and other procedures that would have given the public a voice in the matter. (The full and interesting NYT article here.)

Montana will survive, but it may lose a little more of what made it such a special place. As one person said in the article, a clearcut can grow back, but a subdivision of houses is there forever.

Thank you Bush. Please do not let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

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