While Montana Burns, Guv Pulls out of Climate Alliance

There are wildfires west of Wise River and Wisdom, and in the upper Madison, near Cliff and Wade Lakes. In eastern Montana, there are wildfires in Yellowstone and Musselshell Counties. The tri-county area of Missoula, Mineral and Ravalli Counties has had 227 wildfires this calendar year, with 45 new starts just last week, according to Montana Public Radio.

 The Bitterroot National Forest has declared “Extreme fire danger,” and Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson issued a release, “Last week, I said our high temperatures and dry fuel conditions were ‘unprecedented’ and ‘record-setting.’ You can now add ‘historic’ to the 2021 fire season, which is already shaping up to be one of the hottest and driest on record.”

In the last week of June, the entire Pacific Northwest had an unprecedented heat wave with Portland OR having record highs of 112 degrees, and Seattle had triple-digit highs for three consecutive days. In British Columbia, a small town, Lytton, had a record-setting high of 115, only to break that record a few days later with a high temperature of 121. That’s in Canada, mind you. CANADA! Shortly after that high of 121, the village was mostly destroyed by wildfire.

 While the conclusion is still tentative, climate scientists seem in agreement that the weather of the last few weeks wouldn’t be possible without human-caused climate change.

With that backdrop, Governor Greg Gianforte quietly, and without announcement, withdrew Montana from a multi-state group, U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 25 states, committed to taking action to combat climate change, with a goal of keeping temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Under former Governor Bullock, Montana joined the alliance in 2019.

A spokesman for U.S. Climate Alliance said that Gianforte didn’t respond to an invitation to continue Montana’s membership.

 As reported by Montana Public Radio, Brooke Stroyke, a spokesperson for Governor Gianforte, issued a statement saying the governor believes the solution to climate change is unleashing American innovation, not overbearing government mandates. Stroyke did not respond to requests for clarification as to what the governor’s climate goals are, or what sort of innovation is necessary in Montana.

 It should be clear, in my opinion, that the forces that cause climate change, and the forces to deal with it, are not just local. They are regional, national and international, and Montana can’t afford to drop out of interstate alliances trying to deal with the problem.

The “Lego” handgun cover. Culper Precision Photo.

 From that, let’s move to Provo, Utah, and a company called Culper Precision, that came up with a kit that covers a Glock handgun with what looks like red, yellow and blue Lego blocks, so that the gun now looks like a children’s toy. They marketed the device to promote the idea that “Shooting sports are Super Fun!”

 The Washington Post reported that Lego sent the Culper Company a “cease and desist letter,” and the company president, Brandon Scott, admitted that he had legal advice that Lego would have a strong case against his company, and decided to comply. Up to that time, they had sold something like 20 Lego kits.

Gosh, what could go wrong!

 Finally, we note the death, on July 5, of Dr. Valerius Geist, an internationally renowned wildlife biologist. Geist was known for his expertise in wildlife management, particularly with wild sheep, mule deer, and elk. His death was announced by the Alberta Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

 Geist was a longtime professor at the University of Calgary, the author of many books and articles on deer, elk, antelope, and wild sheep. After he retired from teaching, he moved to Vancouver Island, but continued to write and publish, including some controversial views on wolves.

 Dr. Geist was a featured speaker at a conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America around 15 years ago, and he held his audience spellbound during his presentation on his findings on wolf behavior. I’ll also note that a North Dakota writer friend, Patricia Stockdill, had the opportunity to pick him up at the airport and enthused about what a decent and down-to-earth person he was.

Farewell to a giant in wildlife science, in the tradition of Aldo Leopold.

Paul Vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, or online at http://writingoutdoors.com.

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