When Andrew Hansen first came to Bozeman – where he is an ecology professor at Montana State University – he lived out of town.
“I didn’t even know what those pretty yellow flowers were,” he said. He soon learned that they were leafy spurge, a plant that arrived from Eurasia more than a century ago, brought in as an ornamental, but with no natural predators to keep it in check, it is now designated a noxious weed.
“Weeds that don’t stay put” are just one of the problems that accompany the proliferation of rural subdivisions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Hansen – who now lives not in Bozeman’s exurbs but in the town itself - was at Rocky Mountain College on Wednesday, April 18, to talk about land use changes and human population pressures in what he calls “the largest intact ecosystem in the Lower 48 states.”
At a lecture in Fortin Auditorium, Hansen related the history of this ecosystem from 1860 to the present, showing maps of a somewhat arbitrarily defined area around Yellowstone National Park that includes “gateway communities” such as Rexford, Idaho, or Cody, Wyo., or Gardiner; the upstream portions of rivers flowing off the Yellowstone Plateau are part of this ecosystem, and certain cities are either within or at the edge of it.
Bozeman is one of those cities. Billings is not. When asked by Walter Gulick, a retired professor of philosophy at MSU Billings, about such distinctions, Hansen replied that the map boundaries are not just defined ecologically but also involve economics. The park certainly has a significant effect on the economy of Billings, he acknowledged, but Billings has a lot of other things going on – it’s a large agricultural and energy processing center full of “big box” stores - so while Yellowstone Park may account for something like 5 percent of its economy, in Bozeman’s economy the park and the National Forests around it may account for as much as 50 percent.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 17:50
If there’s one thing America can agree on, it’s that “pink slime” is scary. The hamburger filler made from processed beef trimmings has been in use for decades, but now, thanks to social media-fueled campaigns and traditional media coverage from Fox News to MSNBC, we’re suddenly terrified of the stuff.
But is pink slime really any worse than pink cylinders like hot dogs, or yellow nuggets of mechanically separated poultry? Probably not. But it seems to represent a discussion whose time has come.
After having quietly graced pre-made beef patties in the U.S. since the early 1990s, pink slime hit the mainstream in the 2008 documentary “Food, Inc.” An exec from Beef Products Inc. (BPI), which makes the pink product officially known as Lean Finely Trimmed Beef (LFTB) proudly welcomed the cameras into his futuristic facility, and said the product is in 70 percent of America’s pre-made burger patties.
Then, a 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times expose reported BPI had been lowering the levels of ammonium hydroxide used to treat LFTB, in response to complaints about the product’s strong ammonia smell. These reductions in treatment caused several batches of burger destined for school lunches to test positive for E. coli and salmonella.
Since the Times story, public outcry has forced several fast food joints to quit using the stuff in burgers, and supermarkets are dropping products that contain LFTB.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2012 12:34
BOZEMAN – The land around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks might look like it’s filling up with people and houses, but it’s nothing compared to the rate of development around some other U.S. national parks, according to a new Montana State University study.
While population densities rose 246 percent around Yellowstone/Grand Teton and 210 percent around Glacier between 1940 and 2000, they surged 3,092 percent around the Mojave National Preserve in California, 2,962 percent around the Colorado River parks and almost 2,473 percent around the Everglades National Park/Big Cypress National Park in Florida.
While housing densities grew 13.2 percent around Yellowstone and 11.4 percent around Glacier, they increased 75.6 percent around the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California.
“We are quite impressed locally with the increase in density of rural homes around both parks and with the density of people that live around the ecosystem, but when compared to 57 parks, we are quite on the lower end of that development,” MSU ecologist Andrew Hansen said of Yellowstone and Glacier.
After conducting the country’s first study into population density and land use changes in the ecosystems around U.S. national parks, Hansen and lead author Cory Davis published their findings in “Ecological Applications,” a journal published by the Ecological Society of America. Davis, a former biologist at Glacier National Park, is an MSU graduate student in ecology and works as a research associate in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. Hansen is a professor in MSU’s department of ecology.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2012 12:32
THOMPSON FALLS – In recognition of its successful fish ladder project at the Thompson Falls hydroelectric plant, PPL Montana on Tuesday received an “Outstanding Steward of America’s Waters” award from the National Hydropower Association.
It’s the fifth time in 10 years that PPL Montana has received recognition from the National Hydropower Association for significant stewardship projects, including on the Madison and Missouri rivers, and at the Mystic Lake and Thompson Falls operations.
The award, nationally competitive and granted by a diverse panel of judges, was presented during the National Hydropower Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Dedicated in September 2010, the Thompson Falls fish ladder is the first full-length fish ladder in the continental United States specifically designed to accommodate bull trout, a federally listed threatened species. It’s also the tallest fish passage facility of its kind in Montana.
The steel and concrete ladder system has 48 step pools that permit fish to gradually ascend about 75 feet to the top of, and over, the dam.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2012 12:31
HELENA – Tax time details are the focus for many Montanans this week, and there’s another issue related to taxes that may get attention in D.C. soon. The wind power production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, and several senators from both parties are pushing to get a vote as soon as possible.
Montanan Gordon Brittan says timing is critical. He installed the first wind turbine ever in Montana and is helping energy companies with wind development. He credits the tax relief for the industry’s success.
“Congressman Denny Rehberg told me the other day, he said, ‘We just can’t walk off a cliff.’ And that’s what we’d be doing if we ended the production tax credit from one day to the next.”
Brittan says wind is connected to several hundred jobs in Montana and up to 75,000 nationwide. The credit also benefits other renewable industries, and although Brittan says it has strong support, there are calls to let it expire.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced legislation to extend the credit for two more years, and he’s pushing this month to get it on the voting list. He says there is strong bi-partisan support, but getting it on the calendar is a challenge.
Last Updated on Saturday, 21 April 2012 12:30
If you like your country music homegrown, “Had It With You!,” the latest release from www.Twang, “Southwest Montana’s most country country western dance band,” should suit you just fine.
This collection of mostly original tunes by Buck Buchanan will turn your living room into a small town honky-tonk for 45 minutes (or more, if you set it on “repeat”!).
Ever since this Gallatin County-based quintet of cowboys’ first album, “Last of the White Hot Rednecks,” I’ve been hoping that some big name artist would record their classic, “Big Hat No Cattle.”
Of course, I’d love to see them get a share of the limelight, but since the big money is in songwriting royalties and mega-tours, it would be a nice way for them to reap some of their long-due harvest.
On “Had it with You!” Buchanan’s songs hold their own against the four cover tunes on the album. The Patsy Cline tribute, “Dear Patsy,” was co-written with Montana’s successful songwriter Kostas and former Montana Rose founding member Kenny Williams. Buchanan’s songwriting is “down-home” in both music and lyrics.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:38
“It is speculated as early as the 1860s Mexicans have made their way to Montana. Some as trappers, some as miners, and some as vaqueros,” Esther Rivera said. Vaqueros means cowboys in Spanish.
Ms. Rivera is a lively and active 80-year-old retiree who spoke at the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum’s meeting in a presentation called, “History of Mexican Colonias in Billings, Montana.” Born in Shepherd and a Class of ’49 Billings Senior High graduate, Ms. Rivera spoke of her own personal history and that of Mexican-Americans in the region.
Beginning in the mid-1860s, Texas cattle were often driven to northwest territories that included Montana. Because of their skill with horses and cattle, Rivera said one in seven cowboys in the U.S. steering them were thought to be Mexicans.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2012 14:54
Al in Billings posed this question:
Q: These days, our family needs to account for every dollar in our budget. With health care costs continuing to rise, what can we do to combat unnecessary expenses?
A: As a consumer, it’s important for you to understand where your health care dollar goes, how you can get the most value for your money and avoid excess costs while getting the care you need. Nicole Duritz, vice president, health education and Outreach for AARP, offers eight tips to stretch your health care dollars to keep you fiscally and physically healthy.
1. Know how your health plan works. Find out what is and what is not covered. Know your deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket costs before using medical services or filling a prescription.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2012 14:55
Are you or a loved one having more and more difficulty with everyday activities such as showering, dressing, getting around the house, or running errands? An assisted living facility may be right for you. You can get the daily support you need, while remaining as independent as possible.
Making the decision to leave your home for an assisted living facility can be difficult—even if you’re looking forward to the extra help, security, and social perks that it brings. It can also be difficult for your family. You can make the transition easier by taking the time to find the right fit and being honest with your family and with prospective facilities about your needs and concerns.
What is assisted living?
Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2012 14:55
(StatePoint) More seniors than ever before are living healthy independent lives well into their golden years. And a vast majority want to remain in their homes as long as possible, according to the National Aging in Place Council.
However, most houses were not built to adapt to our changing needs as we age.
“The good news is there are many simple ways to make a home more functional for your needs as you age,” says Shannon Sims, marketing communications manager for Therma-Tru Corp.
By 2030, Americans 65 and older will make up 20 percent of the population. For those wishing to make aging-in-place easier, there are several things to consider.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2012 14:55