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We’re heartened to see the conservation movement in Montana maintain momentum. The Whitehall-based organization Travelers for Open Land recently announced $35,000 in grants to organizations around the state to help conserve open lands, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation. Included among the recipients were three Helena-based groups:

-- The Nature Conservancy of Montana, headquartered here, received $5,000 to put toward a 640-acre conservation easement in Valley County, conserving a traditional ranch operation and protecting habitat for several species of grassland breeding birds as well as a pronghorn migratory route.

-- The Montana Land Reliance, also headquartered in Helena, received a similar $5,000 grant, for conservation of a Gallatin County ranch that’s been in the same family for five generations. The 1,127-acre parcel borders previously conserved land.

-- Our local Prickly Pear Land Trust received $1,500 to help fund a 270-acre conservation easement in Lewis and Clark County. The easement was one of the first approved by the Lewis & Clark Open Space Bond process and conserves riparian areas and native grasslands.

Open space is as valuable a natural resource in Montana as anything that comes out of the ground here. While it’s true that “you can’t eat the scenery,” it’s also true that you can’t get that pristine scenery back once it’s been compromised by development of any kind. We applaud the efforts of those who aim to preserve Montana’s wild and open spaces for future generations.

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We continue to be amazed at the amount of prescription drugs that turn up every time there’s a collection event for unwanted/expired medicine or the release of stats from one of the state’s prescription drop-boxes. This week it was the latter that made the news: 88 pounds of meds collected in the drop-box at the Law Enforcement Center, bringing the total since the box was installed in November to 169 pounds. One-hundred sixty-nine pounds! When you think of the weight of a typical pill bottle, the amounts being collected truly boggle the mind. And that’s just the meds that people bother to turn in — to say nothing of the ones flushed down the toilet (a bad idea) or simply languishing past their expiration dates in the medicine cabinet. Hopefully, renewed publicity will encourage more Montanans to take their unwanted or past-date pills to one of the 15 drop-boxes located around the state. 

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