Thoughts from our Western Montana Lodge
Usually I come to my blog with a specific 'purpose', a specific idea. Today, many thoughts are running around in my head. But first, the weather. As has been usual for this winter, the weather is a big issue. This time last week we had guests eating lunch on the deck - in nearly 50 degree weather. In fact, we suspected each day would be our last as we didn't expect the snow to hold.

This week we have received 6 - 8 inches of new snow, the temperature has dropped back down into the 20's and teens, and we're back in business! Wow, when you are dependent on the weather for your business, a little snow or a little warming sure make a difference.

And, the animal report. Recently - as of yesterday - we'd seen the Sharp-Tail grouse, five elk on the hill, and at least one persistent moose hanging around in the yard. The elk were a change as we don't usually see them this time of year. However, I suspect the low snow levels has allowed some to winter in the draws near the resort. The five we saw were on the hillside to the north of the lodge.

The Shiras moose in the yard is getting bolder. In fact, Craig's had to break out the B&B gun and pop him a couple of times to convince him dog-chasing wasn't his new passtime. However, as I write this, I'm watching him chewing his cud in the willows just south of the lodge - where he's hung out all day. In fact, our guests enjoyed looking at him. Fortunately they had the good sense to give him lots of space!

Craig saw a coyote on the refuge today. With the elk and the coyote sightings, I suspect there are no wolves in the immediate vicinity. We've also seen Trumpeters, Eagles, and other birds lately - spring is around the corner.

I got to thinking (uh,oh) the last few days about the present conservation movement. Like any 'movement' it has its extremes. On the one end there are groups, like the TNC, which appear to be striving to protect the best 'open spaces' while not treating humans (and human involvement upon the land) as an enemy to be kept away at all costs. At the other, the people who see everything as a BIG issue and are spend a lot of time scream 'protect' at all costs - and often this means removing people completely from the land.

Anyway, since Yellowstone National Park was the first national park, I got to wondering what our forefathers were thinking. Were they concerned about protecting the land from the people? Were they concerned with legitimate conservation or were their decisions driven by some other motive? How important did they see our natural resources?

It's important to remember, I think, that at the time YNP was set aside there were HUGE tracks of undeveloped land - basically the entire Louisianna Territory. So, if anything one would expect they'd see little need for conservation - if they didn't have a underlying desire to protect the land for future generations (the motto of most conservationists, however, some imply they're the first and only to have seen the 'light'). But, most important, in my opinion, was their (Congress in the late 1800's) desire was to set aside the land "FOR" the people. In other words, people were not the enemy. In fact, part of the discussion in Congress about setting aside Yellowstone Park was to protect it from what was happening at Niagara Falls - the general public was having to 'pay' to see the natural beauty within their own country.

I'm still working through this in my mind. But, I think that one of the things missing in many of the conservation movement - a movement which IS important to the future of our country - is the remembrance of our history. We aren't the first generation to recognize this need, and it is just as important to know what drove our forefathers to set apart the lands we enjoy as 'special' places as it is to work to continuing to protect these wonderful national treasures.

So, I'll keep reading - and thinking. And, this may not be the last I have to 'say' on the subject. One way or the other, I'm learning some very interesting tidbits and facts about Yellowstone's past.

Lady of the Lake

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