Whats Going On in the Bitterroot Valley

Over the past 50 years, the Bitterroot Valley of Montana has been experiencing both an influx of wealthy homeowners as well as a changing relationship between said homeowners and the environment. Nowadays, problems of toxicity, climate change, loss of biodiversity and the introduction of pests. Mass usage practices in both agriculture and forestry has had unexpected results for the residents of the valley. Over usage of land under cultivation has resulted in an increase in the salinity and runoff, and short sighted forestry practices have led to an increase in forest fires. An introduction of various invasive species, such as the Douglas Fir, has also led to more competition for native Montana species, which struggle against the more generally adapted invaders. Many of the problems facing Montana are not natural and are human induced. That’s not to say that it doesnt happen naturally, but rather that we have changed or sped up the natural processes. The increasing rate of forest fires for instance can be traced to the firefighting policies of post-WWII and the introduction of foreign tree species, and the leeching of toxic chemicals into the various rivers is a result of poor mining practices.

The Bitterroot Valley can be used for insight into the environmental issues facing the world today. Due to its small population and past economy, we can see the effects that we’ve had on our environment. That being said, it shouldnt be used as a universal model for environmental issues, there are too many things that make each place unique.

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