The Billings Outpost

Physical therapists practice new techniques

By JANE WHITE - The Billings Outpost

K. Kelli Richardson, a physical therapist with 24 years of experience, recently attended a two-day conference in Livingston presented by Steven P. Ferdig of Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The conference, entitled “The Cervical Spine: Mobility versus Stability,” covered 15 neck mobilization techniques for the neck, upper back, shoulders, chest and face, including the jaw, a site of pain about which many physical therapy patients complain.

At the conference, participants learned how to assess movement to determine specifically in the cervical spine what the range of movement - or lack thereof - is in the patient. The assessment techniques they learned contributed to physical therapists’ treatment plans and may alleviate suffering patients with chronic neck pain.

Ms. Richardson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of California at North Ridge, previously practiced physical therapy at a Pasadena, Calif., hospital for 12 years, owned her own practice in California and has been practicing for 10 years with Lance Hendricks, owner of Montana Physical Therapy, 2370 Ave. C, in Billings.

Mr. Hendricks, who holds a master’s degree in physical therapy, said, “There is new hope for neck pain. Many patients come to us 15 years after a car accident and they still have pain. They tell us, ‘I went to physical therapy and did exercises, but it still hurts.’”

He added, “We are doing mobilization techniques – Steve is teaching neck mobilization ... . It is the combination of approaches that we use: hands-on physical therapy, neck mobilization, exercises [and soft tissue warming via ultra-sound] that make the difference [in relieving pain for patients].”

Ms. Richardson said she learned at the conference how to stabilize one end of the joint with one hand and the healing effects of gentle, slow, oscillating movements, sometimes with the patient sitting up, sometimes sitting down; not fast, not surprising movements. “It is a comfortable, low velocity, oscillation, done very slowly...The primary difference is mobilization... with low velocity,” she said.

People who complain of neck pain may have incurred injuries from an accident or by overburdening a certain part of the body. Richardson said, “Car wreck victims, exercise victims, overuse syndrome by office workers, and even arthritis sufferers ... we could even [apply neck mobilization] to some extent to people with arthritis.” Conventional physical therapy is about doing exercises and stretches, said Mr. Hendricks. On the contrary, “manual therapy – also called hands-on therapy – is different,” said Richardson. “It is not a fast, high-velocity, surprising manipulation of a joint – the kind you might get from a chiropractor,” she said.

“Chiropractors use high-velocity maneuvers to align the spine to cure all types of ailments of the body – we do the spine and beyond, including shoulders, ankles and knees. The primary difference is mobilization vs. manipulation – it’s a big difference.” she said. “We move the joint slowly and [focus on] soft tissue mobilization of the muscles, tendons and fascia (soft connective tissue in the body). Also warming the tissue with ultra-sound (ultrasonic waves that provide deep heat and increase blood circulation to a joint or muscles) and then doing manual therapy afterwards relieve pain – it’s the combination, not just exercise and not just massage by itself and not just chiropractic by itself. That does not do it,” she said.

Hendricks agreed. Regarding the two-day conference in Livingston, he said, “Steve is teaching ‘Mobilizing Stiff Joints,’ and Kelli went to learn mobilization. We are doing mobilization techniques. It is the combined approach of exercises – the patients’ homework – hands-on therapy and neck mobilization ... that gets the patients where they need to be,” said Hendricks.

Hendricks recounted the history of physical therapy: it began in World War I when rehabilitative aides were assigned to prisoners in prisoner of war camps. The whole idea of physical therapy spread worldwide, according to Hendricks. Physician’s assistants, he said, also originated in the U.S. Army. Later on, in World War II, Joseph Pilates was German POW imprisoned in Staten Island, N.Y. Many people of Sicilian descent who lived on Staten Island in that era occasionally spoke with German POWs through the facility’s chain- link fences.

While in Staten Island, Pilates, according to Hendricks, treated his fellow prisoners and sought to relieve their pain. The transition from PT to hands-on or manual therapy emerged in the late 1970s. Sadly, said Hendricks, “It’s about the money. IT is a lot easier to make money with your rooms filled with people exercising away instead of one-on-one hands-on manual therapy. “Hands-On Therapy is a specialization itself within the field of physical therapy,” said Hendricks.

He and Richardson can be contacted at 248-8804 or go to

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:37

Hits: 2585

Survivor warns about stroke

Department of Public Health - and Human Services                                                              

Don “Babe” Weinberger and his wife, Eloise, wish they had known then what they know now: how to recognize a stroke. Eleven years ago a stroke changed Don’s life. He is a former truck driver and mechanic who raised three sons and a daughter on the Fort Peck Reservation.

For Don, and for many survivors of stroke, recovery continues for the rest of his life. Half of the people who suffer a stroke are moderately to severely impaired, according to the National Stroke Association.

“Still have a tough time with my right side,” Don says. But Don’s main frustration is the lingering effect on his speech. “I can’t hardly talk,” he explains in an earnest fashion, his hands mobile, reaching for words. “It’s hard to find what I want to say. The thought in my brain … doesn’t connect with my lips.”

“I didn’t expect to be a speech therapist,” says Don’s wife, Eloise, with good humor. She has helped him with his recovery, from learning to walk again to practicing speech. His sons also helped take care of Don during his early recovery.

Before his stroke, like baseball’s famous “Babe,” Don was used to having the muscle power to do what he wanted to do. Don’s decreased strength in his right arm is what finally signaled Eloise to call an ambulance. Don was taken to Billings where a doctor told him he had had a stroke. It was three days after the start of his symptoms.

Most strokes are caused by a blood clot that cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die within seconds. In twelve minutes, 23 million brain cells die. In an hour, 115 million brain cells die. Stopping this brain damage is the reason immediate treatment for stroke is critical.

Because each hemisphere of the brain has neural connections to one side of the body — the opposite side — stroke victims often experience weakness or numbness on only their left side or right side. Or their face may look crooked. This one-sided effect is an important clue that the problem is stroke.

Don recalls a feeling his “mind was all tangled up.” He woke up the morning after a day of hauling railroad ties and he couldn’t think or talk right. Slurred speech, confusion or words gone haywire are also clues that point to stroke.

He felt so bad he went to bed and stayed there. “We didn’t know what was happening,” Don says now. “People need to know the signs of stroke and know what to do.”

Don still works on cars and drives. He’s proud that he was able to get a ’92 van running again with a new engine and transmission about six years ago.

“You can learn to live with it – and prayer has helped me through – but better to learn what it is before it happens,” Don advises.

“If I had known, I would have got him to the hospital right away,” Eloise adds. “Now we know

that time lost is brain lost.”

If you suspect a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. To learn more, see or call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653).

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:36

Hits: 919

Clinic in joint venture

Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners, a national hospital system, have announced a new joint venture that draws on the resources of both organizations.

The new relationship will provide multiple options for health care organizations in the northern Rockies region to become affiliated with the newly formed entity – Billings Clinic RegionalCare LLC.

This new relationship does not affect the governance or ownership of Billings Clinic or any of its current affiliate relationships across Montana and northern Wyoming, a news release said. The new arrangement offers potential partners expanded clinical services; access to physician integration, support, and recruitment; clinical protocols; and quality improvement systems.

Additionally, the new entity offers operational expertise and access to the capital needed for such growth strategies, including technology and facility expansion and renovation, the release said.

“Billings Clinic has a longstanding commitment to partnering with local communities to enhance access to quality health care. To build on this commitment, we have formed this relationship with RegionalCare in large part because of our shared values,” said Nicholas Wolter, chief executive officer of Billings Clinic. “This creates an additional opportunity for other organizations and communities that have an interest in exploring a relationship with Billings Clinic,” Wolter added.

Wolter and RegionalCare Executive Chairman Martin Rash noted that the joint venture fits with a national trend of excellent health systems like Billings Clinic working with national health care companies like RegionalCare to combine their expertise and capital.

“RegionalCare brings extensive management experience, along with physician recruitment strategies and access to capital at a time when many communities are in need of such assistance,” Wolter said.

“The ever-changing health care environment requires new and innovative approaches and alliances. Working together, Billings Clinic and RegionalCare can provide a path forward for organizations seeking collaborative solutions to the health care challenges of today and tomorrow,” Rash said.

Billings Clinic currently has partnerships with nine other hospitals and multiple branch and outreach clinics serving patients in Montana, Wyoming and the western Dakotas. RegionalCare Hospital Partners is a system of full-service community hospitals in non-urban markets across the country.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 20:35

Hits: 1195

ArtWalk season opens

The 19th season of ArtWalk kicks off with the Spring ArtWalk from 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 3, in Downtown Billings.

Twenty-seven galleries will feature receptions, free to the public, to honor their artists and the artists’ new work. Maps are available at all of the participating galleries and on Page 17 of this issue of The Outpost. The artWALKERSbus will begin its free ride to the galleries at 5 p.m. at the Good Earth Market.

Terpsichore Dance returns to ArtWalk and will perform on Montana Avenue. The following galleries are offering a drawing for a free gift from their stop on ArtWalk: Lore Law, Stephen Haraden, Barjon’s, Billings Food Bank, Billings Gallery of Fine Art, Big Sky Cheap Tees, and Catherine Louisa Gallery. Visit to download a copy of the map and plan your self-guided tour.

Highlights of the ArtWalk will include:

The Billings Art Association will hold its annual auction to benefit the “Images: Art in the Schools” grant at CTA. Featured artists will include Jeannette Magstadt and Phil Bell. In addition, a string quintet from the Billings Community Orchestra will play.

Kennedy’s Stained Glass will present new spring-inspired art glass from Susan Kennedy Sommerfeld and her team of craftswomen.

The Apple Gallery in the Good Earth Market will feature “GEM of a Staff” through July 26. The artistic endeavors of the staff will include stained glass, oil paintings, metalwork, photography, pottery and fused dichroic glass jewelry. The Deli Special will be served beginning at 4:30. Live music is by Peter Tolton.

The Yellowstone Art Museum will open its doors, free of charge to ArtWalkers, to view “Broken Brushes: German Art from Kaiser to Hitler” and “Insomnia” by Michael Zansky. Also, Joanne Berghold from Livingston, author of “Old Windows-Old Doors,” will be on hand to sign copies of her book. Desja Eagle Tail will provide live music at Jam at the YAM.

Level 504 will host an array of artists and open studios: Aaron Nathan, Laurie DeWar, Syd Ayers (fine woodworking), Michelle Dyk (installation), Matt Taggart (installation and performance), Nick Olson and No Creative (photography studio), Blake Eden (handcrafted small clutches and handbags) and Lynne Thorpe, artist and former instructor from Northwest College in Powell, WY. Live music from Justin Choriki and Donna Ayers.

Barjon’s guest artist will be Billings’ wood carver, Russ Bessette. Owner of Wyoming Willow Sticks, he does custom carving on diamond willow and other woods. Each product is the result of a multi-step process. He harvests his own wood, strips the bark, hand tools are used to shape and refine, adding embellishments and finishing it off by hand with an oil finish. He graduated from Montana State University Billings in early childhood education and received his master of arts degree in Chinese history from the University of Colorado.

The Catherine Louisa Gallery will present the work of Ted Waddell. Waddell’s abstract subjects merge with his illusionary background that implies the vastness and simplicity of the Western landscape.

Sandstone Gallery will feature gallery artist and graphite artist Jeanie Broveak. As an artist, Broveak believes that her special gift for drawing is a style that brings to life the very character of each subject. Those who have seen her work comment on the way her created portraits have “eyes that talk to you from the paper” or subjects that “pop” out at viewers.

Guest artist will be Cliff Potts. Potts was raised in Custer and, at age 15, he contracted polio. He lost the use of his arms and legs and spent many months in an iron lung. Today he uses a tongue-controlled electric “golden arm” to manipulate his own left arm and produces original pen and ink, watercolors and oils, as well as limited edition prints and cards. He has a bachelor’s degree in art from MSU Billings and a master’s degree in counseling.

Gallery Interiors will feature The Belt Mountain Rustic Home Furnishings, a regional business that creates unique home furnishings from harvested and found antlers. This is functional art that is also beautiful and Russ Friede is the artist behind these one-of-a-kind pieces. Friede has always been an avid hunter and horn collector. Out of his passion for horn collecting, he developed a desire to build and create home furnishings from the antlers gathered.

He has designed and built table and floor lamps, chandeliers, coffee and occasional tables, cribbage boards, and candelabras made from antlers. Friede and his wife Kelli run their business from their home in White Sulphur Springs.

MSU Billings Potters’ Guild and Red Lodge Clay Center residents will exhibit at the del Alma Gallery & Studio. The Red Lodge Clay residents were able to perform a two-day workshop in the beginning of April at MSU Billings demonstrating their techniques to the Potters’ Guild.

Jens Studio & Gallery presents “Give Me Color!!!” through May. Both abstract and realistic, this exhibit is an interaction of color, pattern, form, and design. See it in Sue La Fountain’s metal sculpture, Lila Carpenter’s cabochon pendants, Lisa Ernst’s hand-etched pottery, Jenny Moller’s acrylic landscapes, Frances Boetcher’s bold floral paintings, and Gerald Kindsfather’s sculptural forms in wood, metal, or fiberglass.

Underground Culture Krew opens its first ArtWalk exhibit at 2814 Third Ave. N. by featuring the work of artist, art educator (public schools and college level), and gallery owner from Shell, Wyo., Karyne Dunbar. Her work has been purchased by the Bradford Brinton Museum and the Yellowstone Art Museum. The President of Ireland presented her bronze of Celtic warrior Queen Maeve to the Granuaille Center on the West coast of Ireland. “It is important to me that my works provoke thought. World mythology is a source of inspiration to me, particularly the Celtic which forms my heritage.” Gallery artists Sonni Senger, Vincent Severo, Gloria Mang, Kristin Rude, Sheri Gustke, Nic Beckman, Emma Prosser, Jack Sease and Cyrem Graffiti will also be exhibiting new works.

Stop by the Stephen Haraden Studio to view his latest completed pieces as well as works in progress. Also for the first time, see Haraden’s miniature gallery of small framed paintings priced at $50.00 or less.

Lore Law Firm hosts a reception for Billings painter Sarah Morris. “I’ve spent years looking out at the endless miles of visibility in this ‘Last Best Place.”

As you view my art, I hope you will experience the feeling of being a Montanan, because it is a beautiful feeling to possess.”

Calvin John Treiber, Billings’ native and a child that grew up next to the Yellowstone River, will exhibit at the McCormick Café.

Chinatown Art Gallery will show an array of local emerging and established artists. Gloria Maixg (jewelry), Coila Evans (paintings), Susanne McPherson (jewelry), Amy Drake (photography), Terry Zee Lee (jewelry and paintings), Dominique Paulas (wildlife paintings), Fred DeFauw (paintings), Lori Blaylock (pottery), and Rick Williams (metal art).

The Jason Jam Gallery, on the second floor of the Carlin Hotel, will present “The 100 Drawings in 100 Days” for the May ArtWalk. 100 original pen and ink drawings that were produced between Jan. 1 and April 10, 2013, will be on view.

Big Sky Cheap Tees will feature photographer Casey Page and artisan Amber Kober as their first ArtWalk artists. Casey Page began her photography experience under her grandmother’s guidance in Sandpoint, Idaho. In the 1990s she honed her skills by recording her trips to Europe, Mexico, and Africa. She launched her photojournalism career after graduating from Beloit College in 2003 and is on the staff of the Billings Gazette. Her exhibit will include photographs of animals up for adoption at the Billings Animal Rescue Kare (BARK). “I chose a white backdrop and simple lighting to make the colors and features of each animal jump out of the photograph.” Amber Kober created a shop Etsy ( called Day Old Tee in October 2011 and has been making upcycled accessories from old T-shirts ever since.

Toucan Gallery will feature the fused glass work of Bozeman artist Kathy Burk. After receiving a degree in interior design and working in that field for many years, Burk found herself increasingly frustrated by the available selection of lamps and lighting fixtures. She learned how to work with glass and designed and built her own.

Enchanted by the colors and textures available as raw material in the glass medium, Burk was propelled in to a new career as a glass artist. An ongoing experiment with the relationship of design, light, and emotion is taking place in her studio as she attempts to make meaning materialize from the alchemy of heat, color, and glass. A variety of vessels and lamps will be on display for ArtWalk.

Purple Sage Gallery will feature the work of gallery artists Janet Bedford, Robert Tompkins, John Felten and new member, Michael Stanish. One of Bedford’s favorite subjects is the buffalo and several of her buffalo paintings will be on display.

Tompkins will present a collection of floral paintings. John Felten continues to perfect his marquetry and adds a beautiful crane decorative box to his works available at the gallery. Landscapes in oil by Michael Stanish will be available. Other gallery artists are Greg Eiselein, Thomas English, Diana Mysse, Tana Patterson, Dione Roberts, Neil Patterson, Steve Schrepferman, Carolyn Thayer, Shirle Wempner, Brenda Wolf, Phil Smith and Barbara Gerard-Mitchell and Susan Germer. Refreshments will be served.

The Billings Gallery of Fine Art, located in the Babcock Theater Building, will present the work of Montana artist, Wayne Snowbird. Originally from New Mexico, his sculpture and fine jewelry reflect his native southwestern heritage.

The gallery will also be hosting the Billings Elks Lodge Annual Elk Poster Contest. “The Choice 4 Me is Drug Free: Living a Healthy Lifestyle.” Works by artists in grades one through 12 will be judged by Mayor Tom Hanel and Elks president, Al Kirsche.

Susan Germer will open her studio in the Carlin Hotel and show new work. Fine silver jewelry, original note cards, bead embroidery, paintings and more will all be on view.

Germer has been creating fine silver jewelry from precious metal clay since 2004 and is certified as an instructor. She teaches adult classes at the Yellowstone Art Museum and jewelry making for ages 8-14 at the Summer Art Academy held on the campus of Rocky Mountain College.

Marcasa Clothing, in its first ArtWalk show, will present the work of photographer Brooke Moore. Moore’s work primarily consists of wedding, portrait, and commercial photography. “My favorite subject to photograph or paint has always been people. People are complex. They are full of emotion, expression, and history. I love capturing that for them, because those images are reminders, moments of their own personal history.”

Other galleries to visit during the Spring ArtWalk are The Billings Food Bank, Guido’s Pizza next door to Pug Mahon’s and Navigate Art/Unreal.

For more information see Billings ArtWalk on Facebook or visit or call 259-6563.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 20:10

Hits: 2910

How to cook a rattlesnake

By ARI LEVAUX -@arilevaux

A neighbor in New Mexico once told me that it’s bad luck, not to mention bad form, to kill a rattlesnake.

Unfortunately, he told me this after I’d already killed one.

My neighbor had lived on that mountain most of his life, and he was at peace, if not in love, with its snakes, including rattlers. Although he’s never been bitten, he has lost dogs.

The snakes were here first, he told me, and they’re better for the landscape than we are. If you kill one, he said, you will be the last thing it sees, and your image will remain in its eyes. If another snake looks at those dead eyes, it will know who killed it.

The rattlesnake I had killed was sleeping in the garden, beneath a tomato plant, when my wife noticed it.

There’s something about a snake in the garden, even to a Hebrew-school dropout like myself, that’s creepier than a snake anywhere else. It didn’t help that wifey was barefoot and pregnant.

The snake wasn’t bothering her, she said, so she continued picking tomatoes peacefully, with frequent glances toward the slumbering serpent.

Although she was pretty chill about the whole thing, when she told me my lizard brain took over. A better man would have captured the snake and moved it to safer turf, but I felt nothing but fear, and I didn’t know how to catch one. I grabbed a square-edged shovel and used the flat blade to pin the snake behind its head. I finished it with a machete, and threw the head into an arroyo behind the house. I tossed the body into the chicken yard, next to a boulder where I keep the water dish.

I had thought the hens might peck at the dead snake, as they often do with meat scraps, but they wanted nothing to do with it. For about 10 minutes the headless body continued to writhe slowly in the dust, which did not entice the chickens any closer.

As the days went by, the girls continued to avoid the snake, which sank into the dirt in front of the rock. I had to move the water dish so they would drink, but I figured it would start to rot soon enough, and the smell and insects would draw the chickens in for a snack. As the snake faded from view, I let it disappear from my list of things to do.

When my neighbor told me not to kill rattlesnakes, I felt bad about it, and promised myself I’d never do it again. And I hoped no other rattler would find the severed head in the arroyo and see my reflection in its eyes.

A few weeks later, arriving home from a night out, I went into the chicken yard to lock the coop. The car’s headlights were on so I could see.

As I passed the dead snake was, I narrowly missed stepping on another one. A live one.

It hissed violently, its mouth open wide, and rattled furiously. The rattle was surprisingly high-pitched. So was the screech I let out as I jumped onto a nearby boulder.

I didn’t know if the snake had come for me, the chickens, or the eggs they were incubating. But the coop is much closer to the house than the garden is, my wife was even more pregnant than she’d been, and I was pissing in my pants. I never, for a second, considered not killing it.

When I moved in with the shovel, the snake struck it like a bolt of lightning. My hands felt the shock and my ears heard the ping of fangs on metal.

I backed off, grabbed some baseball-size rocks, and pelted the snake. After a few hits it was stunned, and I went back in with the shovel. Just like that, I’d done it again.

This time I buried the head.

I skinned and gutted the body. It was my first time cleaning a snake, but it was hardly different from any other animal. What remained was little more than a hollow tube, defined by a dense shield of delicate, circular ribs covered in a thin layer of flesh. I soaked it in a pot of salt water. After a few hours I rinsed it, let it air-dry, and put it in the fridge.

The next day I threw the snake on the grill alongside some burgers. It tasted almost like chicken, cliché be damned. But it was a bit tough, and difficult to extract in decent-sized pieces. I had intentionally cooked the snake with no seasoning, wanting to experience its true flavor, and because the meal was as much communion as gastronomic adventure.

The unflavored snake was just a single note compared to the symphony of a well-constructed burger, but I was just glad I hadn’t puked it up. I put the rest in the fridge and slept on it. The answer arrived on a run the next morning.

The prickly pear cactus fruit were ripe and purple. Coyotes had gobbled all but the most inaccessible ones, which I gathered. (If you can’t get prickly pear, use apricots).

I simmered the snake in water for about two hours, until the flesh was soft. I strained the water and teased the flesh off the bones, ending up with less than a cup of snake meat.

I baked the meat at 350 in a cast-iron skillet. Meanwhile, I scraped the prickles off the prickly pears with a butter knife under the faucet. When the fruits were clean I added them to the skillet. After about 25 minutes they started to collapse, and I added chopped garlic and stirred. When the garlic was cooked, I served the dish.

The prickly pear fruits, sweet and fragrant, were the highlight. The garlic cloves too were spectacular. The rattlesnake still tasted like chicken: crispy, dry chicken, though nicely balanced by the cactus fruit.

It was the best that snake ever tasted, but that’s only saying so much. I hope it’s the last snake I eat. Luckily, it was the last rattlesnake we ever saw on the property.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:31

Hits: 2833

Climate change affects animal camouflage

University of Montana

MISSOULA – The predicted decrease of winter snowpack due to climate change might inconvenience winter recreationists, but for mammals that change coat color during the cold months to blend in and survive, the consequences could be much graver.

L. Scott Mills, a professor in The University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation, will publish an article titled “Camouflage Mismatch in Seasonal Coat Color Due to Decreased Snow Duration,” in the April issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article will detail research on the snowshoe hare, one of 10 animal species worldwide that changes color from brown to white to match seasonal snow cover.

Mills and his colleagues studied wild hares for three years in western Montana. The study examined 148 hares weekly in the field to quantify their coat color, the extent of snow around them and the percent of mismatch between the hare and their background. The three years during the study included some of the most extreme differences in snowpack duration that have occurred in the past 40 years, including the incredibly long 2010-11 snow season and the much shorter season the year before.

The results of the study link the seasonal coat-color change across different years to the prospect of less snow in the future.

Though the timing of the molt did not change in either the fall or spring for the hares in the study, the rate at which they changed did vary, but only in the spring molt.

Hares in the fall changed purely based on the length of the day, but the hares changing in the spring were able to slow the rate of their molt in the heavy snow year of 2010-2011.

“On average, it takes about 40 days for a hare to completely change from brown to white,” Mills said. “The white-to-brown change takes a few days longer and shows some ability to speed up or slow down according to temperature or snow.”

Animals that change color seasonally may adapt in two ways to environmental stressors such as reduced snow. If mismatched coat color leads to increased predation, evolution by natural selection will favor hares that can adjust the timing or speed of the change according to snow conditions.

The second adaptation involves the ability of individuals to adjust behaviorally to conditions. The article cites the male rock ptarmigan, a bird that soils its feathers after mating in an apparent attempt to camouflage, as one example of behavioral adaptation.

The next step for Mills’ research group is to document whether mismatch in the hares’ coat color does in fact increase predation and whether adaptation is occurring.

“Hares that are mismatched may minimize mortality by seeking out snow or remaining in dense cover, and the potential for rapid evolutionary change in timing of coat color cannot be discounted,” Mills said.

The researchers also developed rigorous snow models for the future, accounting for uncertainty by averaging scenarios across 38 different climate models. When they applied the snow models to their snowshoe hare study area, they predicted the average duration of snowpack will decrease by 29 to 35 days by mid-century and 40 to 69 days by the end of the century.

They found that this decrease in snow would lead to a four- to eight-fold increase in the number of days that white hares will be mismatched on a brown, snowless background, making them vulnerable to predators.

Whether hares can adapt, either by natural selection, behavioral adaptation or both, has major implications for the species. As the climate models show, the change will need to come quickly.

For the snowshoe hare, an essential prey for the threatened Canada lynx, and an animal experiencing 85 to 100 percent mortality due to predation, the ability to be camouflaged is a critical defense. Because seasonal coat color change occurs for species throughout the world, the prospect of white animals on brown backgrounds serves as a widespread stark image for the impact of climate change.

The article co-authors are UM graduate students Marketa Zimova and Jared Oyler, Regents Professor of Ecology Steve Running and Assistant Professor Paul Lukacs, all of the College of Forestry and Conservation.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:29

Hits: 2523

Recycle those beer bottles

Good Earth Market

The folks at Bayern Brewery in Missoula act on their responsibility to practice eco-friendly and sustainable business practices wherever possible. Since 2010, they have been attempting to reuse as many packaging and bottling materials as possible. Now you can participate!

At Good Earth Market, a $3 deposit gets you the Bayern Ecopack, a sturdy, waxed cardboard box. Fill the Ecopack with 24 qualifying bottles in four carriers and return to the Good Earth Market.

Pick up another Ecopack and fill it up again.

Bottle qualifications:

Must be standard brown 12-ounce bottles.

Must be in good condition.

Must be pry-off – no twists or threads.

Must not have any embossing on the bottle (brand names, etc.).

Your participation means less packaging ends up in the landfill, and you are helping to sustain our environment and help make Bayern Brewing one of the most sustainable breweries in our region.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:28

Hits: 1417

Joys of solar cooking


Nature has provided no better way to cook our food than with sunlight. That may sound like a pretty sweeping statement but for almost everyone I know who has done a bit of solar cooking over time, the agreement would be nearly unanimous. Generally the food just tastes better! A simple pot of brown rice or a chicken, for example, receive a unique transformation with a dash of sunlight added. You have to taste it to believe it.

I have solar cooked for 23 years and taught and demonstrated it nearly as long. I enjoyed it from the first time I did it. I believe it is a gift literally “from on high” waiting to come into our experience to transform life. It already is doing just that in many parts of the world where countless daily lives are so much better for the entry of solar cooking.

There’s a touch of fun in taking a pot of food and putting it in a homemade or manufactured solar cooker and knowing that the only “fuel” involved for cooking is sunlight. Plus there’s no heat added to the kitchen, nothing added to the utility bill, no toxins for the environment, and delicious food added to the table!

There are very simple homemade cookers that can be constructed in 30 minutes with a dollar’s worth of materials and a Reynolds oven bag to insulate your pot while it’s in the cooker. You can see the easiest-to-make, the Box-Corner Cooker, at my website

While this particular homemade cooker works well In mild to warm weather, there are more sophisticated designs which can provide for cooking even in freezing weather. I have done a lot of cooking in Minnesota and Montana in temperatures hovering around zero. Generally speaking, if I have bright sunshine, I can solar cook.

A number of manufactured units are on the market, at least three from the U.S. The “Sun Oven” ( is the most widely known followed by the Solar Oven Society “Sport” (

A vast resource to help you find your way into the world of solar cooking is

Almost every facet of solar cooking is covered in detail: endless ideas for constructing your own unit; learning many of the finer points of cooking by sunlight; seeing how this cooking method is transforming lives in many developing nations; how you can help make the solar revolution real in the lives of others you may never see.

To give you To give you another huge resource, provides hundreds of videos related to solar cooking. Many other online information resources are just a few clicks away when you plug “solar cooking” into a search engine.

Solar cooking is, I believe, a step into the future of food preparation that is available today. Make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to taste the future of food right now. Happy cooking!

Greg Lynch lives in Emigrant.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:26

Hits: 1241

Quack, Pack comes to city

Did you know that there approximately 450 miles of storm drain pipe located underneath the City of Billings? Or that the Yellowstone River is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 States? These are just a couple of the fun facts you will find on Quack and the Pack’s Water World (

In March 2013, the City of Billings welcomed a little hard-hatted duck named Quack and his superhero pack to help kids and adults alike, learn about our most valuable resource: water. Enter Quack’s water world at and play fun games, learn about the water cycle, and take a trip down the storm drain with H2O Joe! There is something for all ages on the website and even a special section especially for teachers where they can print off packets and word games to teach kids about watersheds and storm water pollution.

Quack’s Pack is a group of six ducks that possess superhero powers to help clean up the enemy: water pollution. Kids can journey with Magnetic Quack to help clean the stream, as he uses his powers of attraction to get people involved in keeping water clean or join Water Woman as she uses her “lasso of compliance” to bring wayward construction sites back into the fold. Each duck has a favorite game to help people learn about the importance of protecting our watershed.

In the Wonderful World of Water, kids learn the basics of the water cycle and that it is possible that the same water we are drinking today could have once been the same as a dinosaur drank … ewww! Kids don’t need to worry though, as the water from our faucet is very clean due to treatment at the Billings Water Treatment Plant. They can also take a virtual tour of a water plant to see how water gets clean.

Kids can follow H2O Joe on a ride through an actual storm drain in the Secret World of Storm Drains. They learn that the storm drain system carries rainwater straight to creeks, lakes and rivers. Because the water that enters storm drains doesn’t get cleaned, all that trash you can see and the pollutants you can’t see – like poisonous chemicals, pesticides, soap and germs – end up in your neighborhood creeks, rivers and lakes. This means that the water is unsafe.

The website, along with our public education program, will hopefully help kids gain a real world approach to water and water protection. The website is a collaboration between the City of Billings, the Montana Department of Transportation, and Yellowstone County to help educate the community about the importance of keeping the Yellowstone River clean, as it is our source of drinking water.

Zee Creative, a local internet company, brought the site to life and made Quack and his pack the newest superheroes in town!

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:26

Hits: 1463

Ways to reduce runoff

Direct downspouts away from paved areas and onto areas such as relatively flat or slightly sunken lawn areas, grassy areas, landscape beds, or rain gardens.

Collect rain water in barrels, cisterns, stormwater planters, or other rain harvesting methods for watering landscaping.

Plant and maintain dense, healthy plant cover, especially on slopes.

Plant practical grass areas. Avoid planting high-maintenance turfgrass on steep slopes, in deep shade, or in areas where maintenance is not reasonable. Instead, select adapted or native turfgrasses or other ground covers.

Increase the use of properly sited landscape beds to reduce large expanses of grass.

* Keep impervious non-plant (driveways, roofs, decks, etc.) surfaces to a minimum. Where feasible, use permeable surfaces such as bricks, cobblestones, gravel, turf pavers, porous pavement, mulch, or others.

Manage soils to increase water saturation into the ground and promote healthy root growth. Add organic matter to soil prior to planting or by topdressing and using organic mulches after planting.

Use water conservation practices. Water early in the morning to retain moisture and avoid overwatering.

Keep fertilizers, pesticides, and yard waste (grass clippings, tree leaves, soil, etc.) off paved and other impermeable surfaces. Sweep them into a dustpan or use a leaf blower to redistribute them out of the path of runoff water. Do not dispose of them on the street.

Apply fertilizers and pesticides based on the directions to ensure application of the correct amount. Avoid over applying products and consider using low/no phosphorous fertilizer and select the least toxic pesticide that will effectively control identified pests.

Store and dispose of household hazardous waste.

(pesticides, paint thinners, cleaning products, oil, anti-freeze, etc.) according to label directions.  Do not dump old or excess products into the sink or toilet, street gutter or ditch, storm drain, or onto the ground.

* Recycle, reuse, or reduce plant waste. Leave grass clippings on lawns or compost them. Chip woody waste for compost or to use as mulch.

* Remove leaves, litter, and other debris from roof gutters and street curbs.

* Pick up litter and clean oil drips and fluid spills from pavement.

* Scoop pet feces, secure in bag and place in the trash for disposal.

* Wash cars at a commercial carwash, not in the driveway.  Cleaning soaps and chemicals can end up in the street and run down the city stormdrain system to the river.

* Do not stockpile soil, mulch, or other bulk materials on impervious surfaces during landscape projects.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:25

Hits: 1625

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

Top Desktop version