Montana Audubon bird festival celebrates diversity

Few areas in Montana showcase bird habitats as rich and diverse as those found in Flathead Valley, in nearby Mission Valley and Glacier National Park. From the towering, glacial-carved mountains and coniferous forests to the abundant wetlands, the beauty is unparalleled in every direction. For its annual bird festival this year, Montana Audubon aims to capitalize on that rich diversity, and the abundance of species that comes with it, by basing the festival in Kalispell, located in the Flathead Valley.

Co-hosted by Flathead Audubon Society, the area’s 400-member-strong local Audubon chapter, the bird festival will be June 8 to 10 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell.

Dubbed “Wings Across the Big Sky,” this year’s festival celebrates the area’s ecological diversity and abundance of birdlife with 27 guided field trips to the area’s shrublands, wetlands, grasslands and forests on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Led by ornithologists and local bird experts, the birding trips include tours of several national wildlife refuges in the Flathead and Mission valleys, among them Swan River, Pablo, Ninepipe and Lost Trail, as well as the National Bison Range.

The festival also includes trips to Glacier National Park in search of the beautiful Harlequin duck, thriving in various habitats along both sides of the Rockies.

Delivering this year’s keynote address is Peter Sherrington, founder and research director of the Rocky Mountain Eagle Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of migrant and resident eagles in the mountains of western Canada. Several years ago Sherrington, a geologist and paleontologist, gave up a career in the oil and gas industry to study and protect golden eagles and their habitat. The title of his address is “Twenty Years of Golden Eagle Migration Studies in the Alberta Rockies: The Big Picture Begins to Emerge.”

In addition to Sherrington, the festival features seven other authorities in their field delivering talks on topics such as nesting colonial waterbirds, raptor migration across Montana, bats in Glacier National Park and children’s connection to nature.

Moreover, Brian Sullivan of Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology provides an introduction to eBird (eBird.org), a website that allows users to log their bird sightings and share their logs with other users.

In addition to the field trips and talks, the festival offers three pre-festival workshops, all on Friday, June 8. One looks at how to offer bird education training in your community. Another examines private landowner conservation efforts in Flathead Valley. The third explores the complex regional forest and wildlife conservation issues that have emerged in the face of climate change and related threats to the health of the natural landscape.

For more information and to register, visit www.mtaudubon.org/birdwatching/festival or call 443-3949.

Outdoor Fest to be held at Spring Meadow Lake June 9

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host Helena’s 2012 Outdoor Fest at Spring Meadow Lake State Park and the Montana Wild Education Center on Saturday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Outdoor Fest is free and open to the public.

The annual Outdoor Fest celebrates National Get Outdoors Day. The day’s events are all designed to equip young people with the skills and experiences they need to enjoy and be safe in the outdoors. Educational events and activities will available in the Montana Wild meeting and exhibit space, and set up outdoors throughout Spring Meadow Lake State Park.

Activities and informational stations planned include rafting, boating and water safety, camping, mountain biking, shooting sports, kayaking, fishing, fish identification, nature journaling and outdoor weather safety.

Educational events and demonstrations, some with live animals, will run every half hour in the Montana Wild Center. They include:

- Raptor program with live raptor, 11:30 a.m.

–noon

- Porcupine program with live porcupine, noon –12:30 p.m.

- Wildlife photography, 12:30–1 p.m.

- Bear awareness, 1– 1:30 p.m.

- Outdoor weather safety, 1:30–2 p.m.

More than 30 community volunteers from organizations including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Helena Outdoors Club, Helena Hunters and Anglers Club and FWP will help staff the activities.

The Montana Wild Education Center is located next to Spring Meadow Lake State Park off Highway 12 West at 2668 Broadwater Ave.

Spring Meadow Lake State Park, a popular Helena recreation site for swimming, fishing and picnicking, is off Highway 12 West, north on Joslyn to Country Club Avenue.

Refreshments will be available for purchase. For more information, email Laurie Evarts at LEvarts@mt.gov or call 444-9944.

Film: ‘Where the Yellowstone Goes’ to be shown in Helena

“Where the Yellowstone Goes,” a feature documentary film from award-winning filmmaker Hunter Weeks, will be shown at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena starting Friday, June 15, with two screenings at 7 and 9 p.m. There will be an open reception in the lobby with the filmmakers beginning at 6 p.m. The film will then play nightly at 7 p.m. through Thursday, June 21.

Presented by Trout Headwaters, Inc., “Where the Yellowstone Goes” is a feature-length documentary following a 30-day fly-fishing journey along the Yellowstone River. Filmed in August and September of 2011, the film follows a small crew down the Yellowstone from Gardiner to the confluence of the Missouri River at Fort Buford, N.D., a nearly 600-mile journey.

Led by fourth-generation Montanan and fly fishing guide Robert Hawkins, the crew explores fly fishing and conservation. Along the way, the film captures notes of wisdom as told by the locals met throughout the 30-day adventure.

Tickets to the Friday night shows are $10 in advance at www.myrna

loycenter.com. Tickets at the door the night of the show will be $13. The Myrna Loy Center is located at 15 North Ewing St. in Helena. The Saturday through Thursday shows will be at regular tickets prices.

For more information, or to view the trailer, go to www.WhereTheYellowstoneGoes.com.

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Angry Trout Trail Run announced

The Angry Trout Trail Run, which will be June 16, is a 5-mile rustic run starting in York. Aid and beverage stations will be available along the route.

The run begins at 8:30 a.m. at York Community Park’s lower parking area, 6040 Nelson Road. Pre-registration (before June 4) is encouraged; late registration runs through 8 a.m. on the day of the race. Download a form at www.yorkfest.org/Angry-Trout-Trail-Run.html. Cost of the race, which includes a T-shirt, is $20 or $25 if you want a pancake breakfast. Add $5 for late registration. For more information, contact Tiffany Parliament at 475-3118 or contact@yorkfest.org

York Fest to feature pan-throwing contest

York Fest will be held June 16. The family-friendly festival includes vendors, food, live music, competitions and a kids’ playground.

Start the day with the Angry Trout Trail Run followed by the fireman’s pancake breakfast. Then, show off your talent in one of the competitions: archery, horseshoes, golf or the women’s cast iron pan throwing competition. Fathers are invited to participate in the second annual Adequate Father-of-the-Year contest.

Finish the day off with the rubber ducky race and cheer on your ducky at Trout Creek. When the fest winds down, the York Bar will host live music on the patio starting at 6:30 p.m.

FWP seeks comments on proposed tilapia classification

Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission is seeking public comment on the proposed classification of tilapia, an exotic fresh water fish, as a controlled species that may be possessed in Montana only with a controlled species permit issued by FWP. Interest in raising tilapia for food has grown in recent years, but tilapia can become a troublesome invasive species if the fish is released or escapes into the wild.

Control measures that would be put in place by the proposed rule would require that tilapia be raised in an indoor facility with locked access restricted to individuals involved in the operation and maintenance of the facility.

A public hearing on the proposed classification of tilapia is set for June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the FWP headquarters offices, 1420 East 6th Ave., in Helena.

A permit is required to possess, sell, purchase, breed or exchange species classified as controlled. Non-controlled species may be privately owned and prohibited species may not be possessed as pets in Montana.

To view the proposed changes to the rules on exotic species, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov under Public Notices.

Public comment on the proposed rule changes must be made by June 22 by email to: fwpexotics@mt.gov; or, in writing to: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Attn: Exotic Species, Fisheries P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Mt. 59620-0701.

A full list of classified exotic species is available at FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov under Exotic Species.

Exotic species not yet classified cannot be imported into Montana.

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