Dispatches from the Road: Crown of the Continent, Day 1 - Fire, Wildlife, Dams, Water Quality, Fish

Fellows learn about wildfire past and present from Ron Wakimoto, professor of forest fire science, University of Montana.

Fire and water marked the first full day of the Crown of the Continent Institute in Montana on Wednesday, June 26. Beginning with a mid-morning discussion about the history of fire with Ron Wakimoto, professor of forest fire at University of Montana, and concluding with a trout fishing expedition on Flathead Lake, the full contingent of 18 fellows (Don Hopey finally arrived after a grueling trip from Pittsburgh!) worked their way north from Missoula and got engaged in a series of environmental issues along the way.

Dale Becker, wildlife biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, discusses wildlife highway crossings, grizzly-chicken conflicts, and reintroduction efforts on the Flathead Reservation.

Wakimoto was also joined by two officials with The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes - Tom McDonald and Dale Becker -  who talked about their wildlife management program and set up a visit to the spectacular Kerr Dam on the Flathead River. There, the fellows had a chance to visit with Jordan Thompson, a lawyer for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, about the dam's history and future - which will likely see its operation turned over to the tribes.

Kerr Dam, Polson Montana

Flathead Lake and its watershed, which straddles the U.S.-Canada border, was the primary focus of the second half of the jam-packed first day of the Crown of the Continent Institute. Among the highlights for the journalists was a full-blown debate among officials from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Fish and Wildlife Protection and the Tribal fishery officials over the aquatic battle between Lake Trout and native Bull Trout.
After a dinner at the Flathead Lake Biological station, the fellows finished the day on the gorgeous lake and were treated to a sunset exploding in color over the nearby mountains.

Fellows fish for Lake Trout on Flathead Lake.

Sunset and wake on Flathead Lake.

This Day One Dispatch was written by Mike Scott, assistant metro editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and IJNR's multi-media magician.