Web site of Scott McMillion - Journalist, author of Mark of the Grizzly, senior editor of Montana Quarterly

Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

“Pulled from the Brink”

By Scott McMillion
Montana Quarterly
Spring 2012

Private herds helped save America’s wild bison. Today, bison restoration remains a largely private matter.

“Watered Down”

By Scott McMillion
Photographs by Peter McBride
Nature Conservancy Magazine
Winter, 2012

Can the mighty Colorado reach the sea?

Excerpt:

Over its 1,450 mile tumble to the sea, the Colorado River presents one marvel after another.

It waters the high-altitude hay meadows in the Rocky Mountains and succors sun-drenched melon fields in the desert along the Mexican border. It carries snowmelt from the Never Summer Mountains to places where the snow never sticks. Along the way, it flows through the showerheads and Jacuzzis of Las Vegas, then takes a scrubbing before pumps launch it skyward in those elaborate fountains, entertaining tourists with what the gamblers bathed in yesterday.

Los Angeles takes a big gulp. So do Denver and Phoenix and Tucson, all places separated from the river by altitude or mountain ranges that engineers have outmaneuvered with pumps, concrete and gravity.

Almost everybody in the United States takes a sip. If you eat winter lettuce or wear a cotton T-shirt or drink milk from California, there’s a good chance you’re consuming Colorado River water that helped transform soil and sunlight into chlorophyll and fiber and protein.

For a century, people have tried to pull fossil fuels from the ground beneath the valley—on both sides of the border—without much success.

Click here to read the entire story.

Note: The thumbnail image that accompanies this post is a cropped image from the extraordinary photographs by Peter McBride that accompany the article.

“Continental Divide”

By Scott McMillion
Nature Conservancy Magazine
Summer, 2011

Can two countries come together to save a pristine valley?

Excerpt:

Yet isolated though it is by geography, bad roads and weather, the North Fork has been at the center of some of the continent’s thorniest struggles over development.

For a century, people have tried to pull fossil fuels from the ground beneath the valley—on both sides of the border—without much success. A well drilled in the early 20th century in what is now Glacier National Park didn’t produce. During a spike in energy prices in the 1970s and 1980s, oil companies punched deep holes on the Canadian side of the border, seeking oil and gas. In Montana, oil and natural-gas developers purchased rights to drill along parts of the river. In the end, however, the prospective cost of building a permanent mining infrastructure up the wild, 80-mile valley kept the drilling rigs at bay.

Click here to read the entire story.

“Winds of Change”

By Scott McMillion
Photography by Thomas Lee
Montana Quarterly
Winter 2010

Montana is on the threshold of becoming a major wind energy producer. The benefits are clear, but at what costs?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Keeping the Grass in Grasslands”

By Scott McMillion
Montana Outdoors magazine
July–August, 2010

How Montanans are conserving the state’s remaining native prairie.

“The Reef Makers”

By Scott McMillion
Nature Conservancy Magazine
Summer, 2010

Also at stake in the Gulf of Mexico: Miles of restored oyster beds

Nature Conservancy Magazine online posted an update to this article:

In December 2009 Nature Conservancy magazine reported on a project to build 1.5 miles of oyster reefs on the Alabama coast. About 60 percent of the manmade reefs were installed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20.

The oil spill now threatens the new reefs. The project, described below, is halted and the Conservancy and partners are helping with oil containment efforts when and where they can.

Excerpt from “The Reef Makers“:

Oysters don’t sing. But they do make music. Drag a set of long-handled oyster tongs across the muddy bottom of Alabama’s Fowl River Bay, and you might hear the melody. It’s something the old-time oystermen call chirping.

It’s an odd sound, this clinking of oyster shells on rusty steel rakes: Imagine a wind chime doing its job under a couple feet of water. While this is sweet music to an oysterman’s ears — it sounds like money, food, another day of keeping the wolf from the door — the tune rings hollow around here these days. In 2009, state officials closed Alabama’s shores to oyster harvest.

The oysters of Fowl River Bay, Heron Bay and Portersville Bay, all part of the vast Mississippi Sound/Mobile Bay ecosystem along the coast of Alabama, have been hammered over the past few years and many have died, leaving empty shells that make a flat song. They’ve suffered what the locals call a perfect storm of perils: major hurricanes, extensive drought and a proliferation of killer snails.

Click here to read the entire story.

“Ghost Cat”

By Scott McMillion
Nature Conservancy Magazine
Winter, 2009
Photography by Ted Wood

Scientists in the Northern Rockies labor hard to protect the increasingly rare Canada Lynx. But first, they have to find the elusive creature. And that means diving into the deadfall. There’s no guarantee of success.

Click here to read the entire story.

“A Fragile Coalition”

The Montana Quarterly
Winter, 2010
Photography by Thomas Lee
Is Montana ready for more wilderness? U.S. Senator Jon Tester says it’s time.

Becoming Aware of the Bear

By Scott McMillion
Montana Outdoors
November/December 2009

If you hunt in grizzly country, chances are you’re breaking the rules.
That’s because you creep around. You hunt during early morning and evening. You mask your scent and walk into the wind. You usually hunt solo. You stay intensely focused on your prey. This is what hunting requires.
But it’s also the opposite of what bear safety experts say you should do in grizzly country.

The (Surprisingly) Quiet Bison Hunt

By Scott McMillion
Montana Outdoors
November/December, 2009
Unlike 20 years ago, there has been little uproar over the recent hunting of wild buffalo emerging from Yellowstone National Park. Why?

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