Sunday, March 20, 2011

Biding Time

Waiting for hiking season to get here, waiting for the employee recreation program to start up again (not til mid-May when the hotel reopens), and mostly waiting for a cold to leave my body breathing freely again. I took a short walk Saturday morning which I had hoped would be longer.

I wanted to take some photos of a long view snowy landscape I'd seen on an earlier camera-free stroll. But as I crested a rise for the downward slope to where I wanted to be, a bison came into view on the trail ahead. They have a way of materializing unexpectedly.

So I headed back to see if the stairways on the terraces were snow free so I could take some photos of spots I hadn't seen in a few months, but found I was too congested to tackle the clear stairs I found. So, just another shot from the Palette Spring area at the bottom.

My head is feeling clearer than it has since I arrived so I should be in better shape for hiking by next weekend. I'm anxious to see what's changed on the terraces and to enjoy again the wide open view from atop the hill behind the dorm. I'll have plenty of free days to visit the local spots before the opportunities to get farther afield occur.

One of the very cool things of being on this side of the dorm is that I can now hear the Great Horned Owls across the street, both this morning and right now. I hope I'll still hear the Coyotes I heard from the other side last year.

Saturday afternoon I was sitting at the computer after giving up on my walk when I noticed the wind had suddenly picked up. Shortly after was when I noticed that the room's sliding window wasn't actually held in place at the top and the wind was blowing the window into the room--I think I have that back on track now. Following the wind came a blizzard of snow which lasted about five minutes, ended, and repeated for another five minutes an hour later.

I had a chance to speak with a Ranger this week and ask the questions left over from last year--the trailside burrows I wondered about are from Badgers (haven't seen them yet), and I got a rough idea of where the nearby Wolf den from a couple years ago was located. I'll be trying to find remnants of that as the year advances, but knowing where it was certainly explains all the bones I found in that direction last year.

Tonight I saw my year's first group of Mammoth Elk. I'll probably see them at least a hundred more times before I leave in October.

When I got here last year, I thought I probably couldn't climb Bunsen Peak because the trailhead is located five miles down the road and I didn't want to walk the road, climb, and walk back--too much time dodging traffic on a narrow road. Over the course of last season, I learned how to get there by the backdoor trail, so once the snow is gone and I've gotten my bear spray I'll be up top.


Allan Stellar said...

I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on the wolf compromise? I was surprised that the Center for Biological Diversity bought into it.

greentangle said...

Ask me another easy question, Allan. ;-)

Of course, I'm anti-hunting in general as a starting point regardless of the species, unless someone needs to do it to survive.

But in terms of the Endangered Species Act (which if you remember from a previous post, the Montana House recently voted to ignore) and the current population, the fact is that wolves are NOT an immediately endangered species in this area. There are something like five times as many as the original target population wanted before delisting. Meanwhile many other species in more immediate danger don't even get listed because of lack of funds.

Certainly wolves are not going to wipe out elk as some locals scream, but they've been a factor in a big drop in the elk population, a species with a large voting constituency around here. So wolves here have hunters and ranchers against them, and that's a lot of local power regardless of the biological facts. The whole local/state rights vs. the big bad federal government is another very nasty factor here. And most folks around here aren't interested in ecology or believers in other species right to live.

The political reality is that there is going to be some kind of hunting season on wolves here. There are already quite a few people killing them illegally. The problem is that if these states have "management" control, which they should get based on the numbers and Endangered Species Act, wolves could very well need to go back on the endangered list within a few years. As I understand it, part of the proposed deal is that there would be an independent scientific study of the situation in three years.

I think a lot of people are very afraid of what might happen to environmental laws in the current political and economic circumstances. Minnesota is considering increasing wild rice pollution for the sake of mining. Apparently some groups are hoping a deal in the Rockies will give wolves more time to recover elsewhere because they're afraid wolves might get delisted everywhere without a deal.

I don't know enough about this deal to know if it's worth making, or if some kind of hunting season will mollify the worst of the wolf hatred, but I doubt if groups would be agreeing to it if we didn't live in times when idiots like Michelle Bachmann run for president instead of being ashamed of their ignorance.

Allan Stellar said...

Thanks for the response Green.

As I understand the wolf deal, there will be protection for some new packs in Washington and Oregon. That was the trade off.

Still, the whole deal stinks to high heaven. A tough call.