Environmental Study of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley

This valley faces many environmental problems that Diamond reflects on in his texts. Toxic waste as a result from metal mining, are among one of the issues he describes. The on going controversy circling the logging community and logging in general is in line with more environmental concerns. The logging that began taking place in the Bitterroot in 1886 is continuing to raise concern for the viability and overall “health” of this valley. Diamond then begins to dive into the raising concerns of exhausting the nitrogen in the soils and the erosion of the soils due to overgrazing, noxious weeds, logging, and forest fires sterilizing the topsoil. Continuing on the soil issues, salinization can begin to ruin large areas of farmland. The raising usage of water in the Bitterroot is also among the concerns. There is more use of water than there is water available. Visible effects of global warming are beginning to hurt this valley’s water supply. Introduction of harmful non-native species and a loss of native species, again, is a problem. All of these topics are issues for many environmentally but these all end up becoming economic issues as well. These are all issues that have been coming about for decades in other places around the globe. Although they are not new, this south western part of Montana takes the cake for facing them all at once.


The Bitterroot Valley is a solid example when it comes to facing environmental and economic issues with a wide range of models to study and observe. Although Montana’s climate is quite unique and I wouldn’t say it can tackle all of the world’s environmental issues. Geography is very important and when it comes to issues like these, Montana can be the prime example for areas with similar climates. It can also be out into broader perspective and grouped with issues that may not be exactly the same but very close, such as mining or the increase water availability problems. Other issues like logging may not be a problem in many other places around the globe. In a general sense, yes, Montana is a great example but there are issues that this part of Montana doesn’t face while other parts of the globe are suffering from very different problems.


1 thought on “Environmental Study of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley”

  1. You brought a really interesting perspective to this topic. I didn’t think of things in this sense. I agree that Montana is a great example for other places, but I didn’t take into account the differences in geography. I understand that geography affects climate and the types of plants/species of animals that live there. However, I do think any influence to improve the environment is almost universally helpful, but needs to differ in the exactness of the methods used based on geography. I like your perspective though, and it made me think about how we might tackle the same issues or similar ones in different countries. How we might have to reintroduce differing types of plants or animals based on soil and how quickly they will grow.

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