Parks and (w)Rec'(king our environment)

The Bitterroot Valley experiences environmental challenges that are typical of societies and ecosystems globally, including climate change, toxic waste pollution, biodiversity loss, invasive species and changes to air, water and soil quality. These problems are indeed historical in nature, much of it caused by Montana’s background as a haven for the industry of agriculture and mining; runoff of fertilizer, manure and septic waste from farmsteads threatens to contaminate the environment and the process of searching for valuable metals disrupt the earth and risks contaminating environments around it due to zinc, copper, arsenic and other materials that are byproducts posing a threat to living things when they get into groundwater and soil. It remains a problem to this day because many companies would rather abandon or ignore mines due to excessive cleanup costs, and despite mining being historically part of the state’s identity, it is much less so in modern day due to disillusionment caused by having to pay high taxes in order to subsidize cleanup efforts. Despite being a cornerstone of Montanan history, generations later the inhabitants of the state are now burdened with reaping the consequences that their forefathers ignored.

I do not think that Montana or Bitteroot Valley is an entirely analogous situation to use to compare the other problems found throughout the world with. Although contamination from mining is serious, it is not, at least to my knowledge, an issue that is universally discussed when the topic of environmental responsibility comes up. Montana is also not the best example of environmental consequences as it, like Yellowstone and Wyoming below it, is known for its beauty and being ‘untouched’ despite problems laying underneath, paling in comparison to mass deforestation in the Amazon and the buildup of trash in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It however is a very effective cautionary warning for common people and corporations alike to respect and accept responsibility for their actions, and sadly the epitome human selfishness wanting gains now, with none of the concern for repercussions later. This basic behavior is the behavior aside from denial that threatens the safety of our environment as us as a species.

2 thoughts on “Parks and (w)Rec'(king our environment)”

  1. I understand where you’re coming from, but I have to disagree. The mining issue in Montana has been growing for a while now, and there’s been intense, documented confrontation in Libby, Norris, and Granite. The population of those towns have been exposed to hazardous chemicals and face health problems because of it. Therefore, in my opinion, the mining problem is just as serious and relevant in Montana just as it is in other places around the globe. Montana, to you, may be a “cautionary warning,” however it has surpassed a warning in other perspectives. When it comes to environmental issues, contamination from mining comes up in various different forms. The lack of cleaning those said mines poses a threat to soil, the water quality, and sometimes the air. The amount of coal mining creates reasonable suspicion in terms of pollution, and when mining gold, the hidden pockets of gas can push harmful toxins into the air. Run off can damage the water quality and life, and the soil could potentially cause a small-scale deforestation chain; after all, in order to mine in the first place, the forest cover must be stripped for not only the mines, but also the vehicle and other equipment. So, in short, Montana’s mining issues are still relevant in comparison to other places, and should be known than more than just a “warning.”

  2. Your analysis of the burdens facing Montana and the Bitterroot Valley being connected to human pre-occupation with the present, material comfort and the echoing of decades of this behavior definitely seems indisputable. However, I can’t completely agree with your stance that the Bitterroot Valley is not comparable/suitable to analyze the rest of the world’s environmental problems. For one, the ultimate causes of stability being related to geography and climate undoubtedly have always and will continue to impact all locations around the globe, some of them more unique and in varying ways than what is faced in the mid-west, yet many highly populated areas around the world are very similar to this environment. Also, as we have now learned, each and every problem and solution begins and ends with societal impacts, which are obviously higher in said populated areas, therefore they are impacted by comparable ultimate causes (geography/climate) as well as intermediate (people and inventions of people).

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