Montana In Mayhem

The bitterroot valley of western Montana has been and is currently effected by many different environmental issues. These issues are directly attributed to human interaction. For instance you have mines that have been leaking acid into the local watersheds. Arsenic, copper, lead and zinc have been washed down from Buttes mines and accumulated in the reservoir above the dam. You have the issue of logging and wildfires and the correlation between the two. There is an ongoing debate amongst scientists and others regarding the idea of responsible logging to prevent the unnatural massive burning wildfires. Another environmental issue effecting the bitterroot valley is its soil. Nitrogen, erosion, salinization are all a result of human greed and overgrazing of pastures allowing no time for the natural replenishment of the soil. Nonnative diseases and pests also have a major impact on the environment such as whirling disease, chronic wasting disease, mad cow disease, the list goes on and on. I think that these issues are historical in nature, but only because of human actions throughout history, these issues would not be naturally occurring to the severity they are today, without mankind’s actions.

Montana is an excellent platform to study the causes and effects of many ongoing environmental issues. We have over 50,000 acres of farmland to study soils and the effects of overgrazing. We have thousands of active and abandoned mines to study the effects of early no regulation mining as well as new age advanced mining practices, and their related impacts on the ecosystem. We have millions of acres of national forest, some with sparse vegetation and some with thick vegetation, to study wildfires and wildfire characteristics in these different environments. As a whole, Montana offers a great foundation to study many different environmental issues.