While Montana may have some of the countries most pristine and untouched land, it does face a good amount of environmental issues. To be more specific, the Bitterroot Valley faces many problems caused by the mining industry, logging, water, farming, global warming, and livestock. The mining industry created the largest problem Montana has to face nearly a century ago. Early mining companies would mine copper and other resources only to abandon the mines and leave toxic waste to be leaked into rivers and streams. The author states, “ much timber was taken out of the nearby Bitterroot Valley to provide power to the mines, to construct miners’ houses, and to shore up the mineshafts…”(Diamond p.34). This was the very start of Montana’s logging issues. Early logging companies in the Bitterroot Valley took all the lumber they could from the logging lands and are now all closed. These loggers would clear cut trees and create accidental pockets of fuel for wildfires. Trees cut near rivers took away the shade and in turn made the river water warmer. This warming of the river created an unstable habitat for some fish. All the other problems effecting Bitterroot such as soil salinization, water scarcity, and global warming are all historic in nature caused by farmers and industries a century ago. They are historic in nature because it takes time for problems like these to arise, they just don’t happen over night. They come from years of bad practices and negligence that are now affecting us today.
I do believe that Montana in general is a good model for understanding the world’s environmental issues. Montana may have its own environmental issues, but they are not as significant compared to other places in the U.S. or around the world that have ultimately developed more. One could look at Montana as a perfect subject to use history in finding ways to solve these problems before they arise and become too difficult to solve. We can look back at history and see how these environmental issues came to be in other parts of the country, and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again and again.