Quitting Coal, Montana a Battle-Hardened Resource State.

By: Walker Lamb

Montana currently produces roughly enough electricity to go completely renewable, yet half the energy produced in the state comes from coal. Why do we continue to produce coal energy if we have enough hydro and wind power to run entirely off renewable sources? The answer, ‘’Exportation’’.

Roughly half of the energy produced in Montana is exported to other states. This explains why Montana doesn’t run 100% on renewable resources. Currently 47% of the energy produced in Montana comes from Hydraulic and Wind power, a significant amount, and yet still less than the 49 percent of Montana’s power that is produced from coal.

So yes Montana could quit coal tomorrow and our energy grid would be able to handle it but, could the states we export to handle the loss? Energy hungry states like Idaho and California need the power we export, and would need a substitute for the sudden loss of imported power. Montana would also need to consider the consequences from the loss of local jobs and livelihoods of families that depend on the income from the coal sector.

While these losses are formidable, they are going to be lost regardless due to increasing automation, growing demand for renewable resources, and the fact that coal is a nonrenewable resource with a limit. The ability to produce electricity from coal will eventually run out but that’s Ok. It is a good thing to embrace the new technologies and the jobs that come with them.

While we may have large coal reserves we also have substantial renewable energy reserves as well. Montana has the potential to recoup those job losses and and even surpass them while also filling the energy gap left by coal. Renewable energy is ripe with jobs from installation to maintenance and Montana has the geographic advantage to do it.

With its rolling hills and flat plains in the eastern part of the state, Montana has some of the largest wind energy potential in the nation. By the start of 2018 the total number of turbines in the state had nearly reached 500, with more projects in various stages of planning and construction.

Critics argue that wind energy is not as consistent as coal-fired power plants.  However, a solution for that issue is already advancing; a closed loop hydro storage facility is under construction a hundred miles outside of Billings. Wind has great potential in Montana but it is only part of the renewable energy equation, albeit a large part, however, Hydro, Geothermal Biomass, and Solar are all good resources to fill the coal void.

Hydro-power

Hydro-power is currently the largest green energy producer in the state and has the potential to grow. Western Montana is mountainous with many fast flowing high volume rivers. Harnessing this energy with new age hydrologic dams that include fish jumps and silt flushing systems could help fill the coal void.

Swan Peak in the Swan Valley

Geothermal and Biomass

 The state also has 50 geothermal areas, with about a third of those having the potential for electricity generation. Although it is not carbon negative, biomass power is another potential powerhouse for Montana.  Sustainable logging provides another source of exportable energy. This also helps fight wildfires and keeps our summer air clear from smoke, a serious issue that all Montanans have experienced.

Solar

 You have probably noticed I have not mentioned Solar yet as a potential green energy replacement.  That is because I have been primarily geared toward utility-scale energy production. Solar does have potential for growth in this sector.  2017 saw the construction of the first utility-scale solar project in Montana with others in construction. With this, most of the growth in solar has been residential and small scale commercial building solar installations.

 Montana is becoming a green energy power house, that future is already under construction, the question remains of how fast that transition will take.

Sources:

Montana state profile and energy estimates; December 2018 update,    https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=MT

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Montana Adventures

Montana Adventures

By Andrew Moreland

The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.

Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana                                  (Scroll down to find more information about them)

Hiking & Backpacking

Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)

Whitewater Kayaking

Skiing & Snowboarding

Mountain Biking

Hot Springs 

Hiking and Backpacking

One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.

Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.

Glacier National Park

 

Rock Climbing (Indoor)

Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula.  I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.

Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!

Freestone Climbing Website

Rock Climbing (Outdoor)

Around Missoula there is a bunch of awesome areas to climb, go grab some buddies and start sending! Summer and fall days are the best to go out and explore these beautiful areas.

Here is the website with more information about the incredible outdoor rock climbing located close to Missoula!

Rock Climbing – Missoula, MT

Whitewater Kayaking

Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.

Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.

Alberton Gorge – Clark Fork River

 

Skiing & Snowboarding

There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.

Here is the website for Montana Snowbowl.

Montana Snowbowl

Here is the website for Big Sky.

Big Sky Resort

 

Mountain Biking

I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.

Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!

Missoula Mountain Biking

 

Hot Springs

From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.

Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.

Montana Hot Springs

 

About the Author

I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!

Andrew Moreland

My Plead With College Gameday

If you follow college football you know that every Saturday morning you wake up Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and the forever famous Lee Corso. Every week they travel to a big college football game and in front of huge crowds of the local fans with outrageous posters talk about the upcoming games for the day and feature stories on the athletes that we watch. I love College Gameday and always will but one thing has always bothered me about the show. I am tired of seeing Alabama, LSU, Oregon and the big guys. Every week they go to the “biggest game” normally a matchup between two top 10 or top 25 teams and this makes sense, but there are always those weeks in the season where the schedule doesn’t have any great matchups yet they go to the big schools and show little love to the small guys.

Since 2000 College Gameday has done 232 shows and 29% of these shows have been at the all-powerful SEC schools. Alabama has had the most appearances with 17 and I think I speak for a majority when I say I have seen enough of Tuscaloosa, I have seen enough of Gainesville, and Baton Rouge. I demand Pullman, Washington and I almost got it this past Halloween weekend, but once again my dreams have been crushed. First thing I do Saturday morning when I see the shot of the crowd on Gameday is find Ol’ Crimson. Since 2003, a streak of 170 consecutive games, the Washington State school flag has traveled back and forth across the country flying high and proud by some Washington State alum yet Gameday has never shown Pullman the love and been there! Why am I the only one outraged by this! If you put in the work to organize a 12 year tradition of being at every College Gameday broadcast, becoming a fixture of the show, why can’t ESPN show you some love and go for one show to Pullman.
Every college football fan has their own list of the stadiums and games they want to go to, mine starts with Ole Miss and visiting “The Grove” which is a top 5 college football experience. I understand the hypocrisy that my first choice of a game is to go to an SEC school but it wasn’t until last year that Gameday finally made it to “The Grove”. Number two on my list is to go to in my mind the greatest rivalry in college football, the game I am speaking of is the Army-Navy game. This game is the last game of the regular season every year and if it isn’t on your bucket list you need to re-evaluate your views on college football. Yet Gameday has been to this game once since 2000. Two weeks ago Gameday came through for me and went to Harrisonburg, Virginia for a matchup between Richmond and James Madison both schools are in the FCS (Football Championship Series) the league under the top schools who are members of the FBS (Football Bowl Series), it was James Madison’s first appearance on Gameday. The crowd was huge and the fans were going crazy. In 2013 and again in 2014 Gameday went to Fargo, North Dakota to showcase North Dakota State and the great scene of downtown Fargo. People were hanging out of windows, on roofs of buildings, and filling up the streets. This is what college football is about, these players and fans are there for the love of the game.

I want to make a challenge to ESPN and the producers of College Gameday for the next season. I’ll give them four weeks where they can go to the big schools but for the other eleven go somewhere new, go to the Pullman’s, the Harrisonburg’s, the Temple’s of the college football world, you have the power to showcase the campuses and cities that many people will never get to see. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The Rich and Famous Experience Montana

This past summer my mind was blown as I was introduced to Montana in a completely foreign way. Growing up a Montana local in the small town of Anaconda, I am no stranger to the multitude of activities Montana has to offer.

I had heard of this prestigious and almost fictional resort where people who want to enjoy the ‘Montana Experience’ can come and take part in a whole range of activities from going on a cattle drive to white water rafting. This place is called Paws Up Resort.

Paws Up Ranch, Greenough, Montana
Paws Up Ranch Entrance, Greenough, Montana

Paws Up resort is located in Greenough, Montana. This resort is not your typical getaway, five star service is delivered on 37,000 acres of Montana countryside. The famous Blackfoot River runs through the middle of the property and the resort captures all of what Montana has to offer.

Paws Up TroughThe ‘Tank & Trough’ at Paws Up Resort.

Along with cattle drives and the white water rafting activity mentioned above, the resort also offers guided ATV rides, horseback trail rides, repelling, fly fishing trips, covered wagon rides, sporting clays, paint ball, archery, mountain biking, and hot air balloon rides. Guests are also able to spend time on Seeley Lake at a private lake house with the ability to rent powerboats and personal watercrafts.

Trail ride

 

The location that guests lay their head is also not the typical hotel room or even luxury suit. There are many different log homes located throughout the property that include a hot tub on the deck and a complementary vehicle to travel around the property. Some log homes also have a tent included.

mountain house

 

A popular option for guests is camping alongside the Blackfoot river. Any outdoor enthusiast who has explored Montana’s beautiful backcountry can attest to the relief once the tents have been constructed and camp has been made. One of the most popular amenities at Paws Up is the option to camp glamorously, or Glamp. Paws Up coined and pioneered the glamorous camping experience.

Glamping threw everything I knew about backpacking and camping into a blender, added some ice, tequila,  fresh squeezed lime, Cointreau, Damiana, and blended that shit into the best margarita possible. A camp butler then served that margarita in a salted glass to a guest on a leather couch, sitting by a fireplace overlooking the Blackfoot River. This act of Glamping astounded me every time I walked into the camp pavilion.

pinnacle-dining-pavilionThis is one of five camp pavilions associated with the Glamping tents.

The tents are a whole different story. Each pavilion is home base for six different wall tents, a camp butler to assist guests, as well as a private chef for breakfast and dinner. Each insulated wall tent is complete with electricity, running water, a full sized bed, sometimes bunkbeds for the children, heated blankets, heating/cooling unit, tiled bathroom, walk-in glass shower and the occasional hot tub on the deck. One of the most known and favorited tents is the ‘Honeymoon Tent’ at Cliffside Camp. This tent is perched on a cliff and has a copper tub that overlooks the Blackfoot River.

Cliffside camp

Honeymoon tent 2

Honeymoon tent

Camp Bathroom

As you can see, this is not the normal camping experience that a majority of people are accustomed to. A bell staff is on call for all Glampers for rides to and from all activities. Fresh linens are supplied daily, a fully stocked fridge awaits at the pavilion and a campfire awaits marshmallows.

The Wealthy and the Famous

Throughout my employment at the resort I was a bellman for a short period then an activity guide for the remainder of the summer. Paws Up stays fairly full throughout the busy months- June, July, August, and attracts a large range of customers. As you could conclude from the lavish amenities, the price tag to put your family up at the resort in Montana is far from comparable to a night at the Days Inn. This resort caters to a clientele that is very well off financially. One large car company had a week long demo at the resort debuting their new electric sports car. Other big corporations hold massive company retreats inviting management to come and enjoy what MT has to offer.

 

Included with the wealthy, is the famous. Due to non-disclosure agreements and not being able to gain permission from publicists I cannot say exactly who I interacted with so aliases will be provided.

Many of the famous travel for pleasure just as everyone else does. Movie stars and even royalty enjoy the activities with their families and loved ones, and have a blast doing it. I had the pleasure of meeting a Princess from Saudi Arabia. Her group was a complete blast, I was the archery guide for her group one afternoon and the lake guide another day. During archery, everyone got their turn in learning how to use a compound bow. Everyone really starts to have a great time once they start hitting the targets with the arrows. The competition between family members ensued shortly after.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a guy that has starred in some great action movies. I’ll call him Tim, his publicist wouldn’t grant me permission to use his name. He was a great, down-to-earth guy who thankfully wasn’t as fierce as some of the roles he has played. Tim was there with his family and also had a great time with me on the archery course. His son really started to excel with the bow and Tim was a natural, hitting the vital area of the target multiple times.

 

In conclusion, I was glad to meet everyone I encountered throughout my employment, at Paws Up Resort. All the guests were enjoyable and a pleasure to guide and interact with, while the management and fellow employees made working there a very fun experience.

 

Author : Chris Stokke