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

Archive for the ‘The Economics of the West’ Category

“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.

“How the Money Flows”

By Scott McMillion
Photography by Thomas Lee
Montana Quarterly
Summer 2011

The federal government spends billions in Montana. Here’s where it goes, county by county.

“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 »

“Cowboy Politics”

By Scott McMillion
The Montana Quarterly
Spring, 2010
Photography by Thomas Lee

From vigilante days to the cyber age, the Montana Stockgrowers Association remains a big player in state politics, with a little help from Uncle Sam.

“Hard Times in the Last Best Place”

By Scott McMillion
Montana Quarterly
Spring 2009
Photography by Thomas Lee.

Twenty years ago, Bill Kittredge and Annick Smith completed their remarkable collection of Montana literature, a book they called The Last Best Place. And that title sure did sing to us, even if the tune was a little sad. It told us that we Montanans had something the rest of the country lacked, or had lost, something we hadn’t screwed up yet.
I wonder, sometimes. Would it still sing today?

“Economic Slump Hits Residents of ‘The Last Best Place'”

Guest Essay

 “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.”

Originally Aired: November 12, 2008

Introduction by Ray Suarez: “Twenty years ago, Montana offered sprawling landscapes and inexpensive living, but the economic meltdown is changing life in “the last best place.” Guest essayist Scott McMillion of the Montana Quarterly reflects on the changes, including job losses, poverty and tight budgets.”

Video [Video opens in new window or tab]

“Ted Turner Puts his Money where his Heart Is”

By Scott McMillion
Bozeman Daily Chroncile
April 17, 2008
Photography by Erik Petersen
Through his philanthropy and his activism, Ted Turner, at 69, is working on hunger, malaria, global warming, red-cockaded woodpeckers, nuclear annihilation and the volunteer fire department at the tiny town of Alder, Montana. Plus he’s writing a book, skiing at Big Sky and hoping to hear the howl of a wild wolf before he dies.

Click here to read the entire story.

“Our Old Economy”

By Scott McMillion

Montana Quarterly

Spring 2007

Photography by Thomas Lee.

Based on muscle and stink, dirt and metal, are Montana’s timeworn industries a thing of the past?

“An Uncommon Prairie Occurrence”

By Scott McMillion

Montana Quarterly

Summer 2005.

The prairie out here eats optimists. Surivors in this climate have learned to hunker down, expect the worst and live like a prickly pear: close to the ground, where you can save your juices. Thorns have a purpose.

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