We Shouldn’t Play Russian Roulette with a Smith River Mine

Tony Angland standing in cabin lot: circa 1969
My grandfather Tony Angland (right) and friends on the cabin lot: circa 1969
Tony Angland building the cabin
Cabin construction

The Smith River has always been a special place in my family’s heart. In August of 1969, my grandparents purchased a 100 x 150 foot lot in the Smith River Canyon for $1200. About 5 years earlier, my grandfather helped others build cabins in the same area and took advantage of the awesome fly fishing. He says “That’s what really solidified that it was the right place…for a family.” My grandmother jokes that it was only the right place for his fly fishing.  A few other folks also purchased land around the same time as my grandparents and over time the area has grown into a community of 24 property owners.  A large amount of them hail from Great Falls and Helena, with the exception of a few others from around the state.  Now a majority of the second generation property owners also have their own children. Their ages range from toddlers to college aged kids.  In recent years, the area’s popularity has driven others to purchase land and build cabins of their own.

View of Angland cabin and canyon: circa 1970

 

Fast forward to 2016. My family is now having a hard time relaxing with the thought of a proposed copper mine threatening the Smith. By now, most have heard about the Canadian mining company Tintina Resources, which plans to build its “Black Butte Copper Mine” on private land near the headwaters of the Smith on Sheep Creek. This poses a few different risks. What is known as acid mine drainage can occur. This is when the mining process exposes sulfide minerals to water and air. A chemical reaction then occurs and forms sulfuric acid. Sheep Creek is vital to the Smith’s water flow and spawns half the trout that populate it. Given that fact, the mine drainage could ultimately ruin the world class angling the Smith is known for. On the other hand, acid mine drainage is harmful to people. Local ranchers and property owners rely on the Smith for drinking water and irrigation.

2015 Animas River Spill
Acid mine drainage during the 2015 Animas River disaster

Exposure to high levels of copper can also increase the risk of lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Acid mine drainage can occur long after mining ends, so there would be no immediate way to tell if humans are exposed to it. Another risk of mining is the pumping of groundwater. In most years, the Smith’s water levels become very low. When mines pump groundwater it can lower water levels even more, creating a particularly stressful environment on trout. This would greatly affect the fishing potential. Lastly, mining activities have the potential to expose nasty chemicals like arsenic and lead. These chemicals could drain into the groundwater and pollute the Smith, and no one wants to see that happen.

 

Tintina Resources, which is essentially a penny stock company, says the mine will produce around 200 jobs. The locals in the nearby town of White Sulphur Springs are particularly excited for a chance to boost their suffering economy. The town has experienced tough times since the local lumber mill shut down around 30 years ago.  According to Tintina, the mine is projected to have an active life of only 14 years.

There are a few different reasons we have a right to be nervous about the proposal of this mine. Firstly, Montana has quite a history of failed mines. Mines near Anaconda, Lewistown, and Malta have proven to be disastrous in the past. Secondly, Sandfire Resources, an Australian mining company, has 53% stake in the project. Do we really believe that foreign investors 8,000 away carry the best interests of Montanans in mind?

Copper tailing pond
Tailing pond

Thirdly, many mining companies have tried to ease locals by stating they have the latest, most environmentally friendly technology, but we should be weary of these promises. In the past there have been a handful of times that mining operators underestimated the effects their mines had on water quality. Also, mines have what is known as a tailing pond, which has also been referred to as a mine dump. This is basically a pond that stores the chemical waste from the mining activities. Tailing ponds are described as some of the largest environmental liabilities in the mining industry. Tintina says that the mine would be the first to use cement in their barriers to hold the waste in. Speaking about the potential pollution, CEO Bruce Hooper said that “We don’t see any potential — especially with the cemented tailings — we can have any detrimental effects on the environment.” This is a large claim. How can we be 100% sure that nothing will happen to the Smith? The Smith is no place to test out a new science experiment.

Limestone cliffs on Smith River

The first time I saw the Smith I was still in diapers, and for the last 21 years of my life I have been able to call it my second home. The sight of it is quite breathtaking. There is nothing quite like watching the sunset beat down on the limestone walls or the light of a full moon reflecting off its surface. One of my favorite sounds in the world is the sound of the Smith’s peaceful flowing water. It is a place we go to relax, and reflect on the nature God has given us. When someone experiences the Smith for the first time, there is always a look of astonishment in their eyes. They take in the scenery and are immediately excited to explore what the river has to offer. Whether that is fishing, rafting, inner-tubing or cliff jumping. Whether you are old or young, the Smith has no age limit, but something to offer for everyone.

View of Smith River Canyon

 

For the last 47 years, my grandparents have seen the Smith River thrive. My family has been very fortunate to have spent as much time on the Smith as we have. If you have experienced the five-star fishing or the gorgeous multi-day float, you know how important it is.  The Smith is Montana’s only permitted river, and the level of demand has increased over the years. From 2006 to 2014 the amount of floaters on the Smith has increased from 3,941 to 5,375. In addition, the total spending by Montana residents and non-residents for fishing was $7,826,683 last year. Total, the Smith brings in around $10,000,000 in revenue for the state of Montana.  If anything were to happen to the Smith, these economic benefits would come to an abrupt end.  

smith raft

At 22 years old, it’s a very strange thought that there’s a possibility that I might, in a sense, live longer than the Smith. Growing up around the river, I want my children and my grandchildren to be able to do the same.Smith River and canoe Learning how to fish from my grandfather on the Smith is something I appreciate to this day.  As a lifelong fisherman, he would be heartbroken if anything were to happen to the river and I’m sure many others would feel the same. If the Smith was heavily polluted, nearly 50 years of family history would be reduced to nothing more than a memory. The same goes for the other 24 property owners in the area. Future generations shouldn’t have to hear stories about the Smith and what it once was. A copper mine might create jobs in the short-run but is it worth it? One mistake by Tintina Resources could kill the Smith, and that’s why preserving it is absolutely necessary. Taking a gamble on the Smith River is not in Montanans best interest, so I urge you to take action and say no to the Black Butte Copper Mine.  Contact Governor Steve Bullock by signing this petition to save our Smith River for future generations.

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Colin Angland at Blodgett CanyonColin Angland is a senior at the University of Montana studying marketing.

 

Advertisements

Think Government Healthcare is a good idea? Join the Army.

While in the US Army from 2009-2013, I got to experience and listen to many stories from individuals that had received sub-par medical services at the hands of Army Docs. Anytime one of us had to visit a military facility, there was constant harassment of the atrocious things that we believed would happen to that poor bastard when he went in. And it was always funny as long as you weren’t that poor bastard. These jokes didn’t come from nowhere however, and the ranks were full of true stories that made our jokes hit just a little too close to home. Here are two of the best ones that I have heard. Government Healthcare at its finest. While the situations are undoubtedly serious, it wasn’t me in that chair. So you can laugh, cringe, cry, or sob at these, but I knew these guys. And I think it’s funny.

…Staff Sergeant Johnson, of the US Army, laid back onto the large chair in an Army dental office while the doctors and assistants bustled about. He watched them as they busily moved equipment into and out of the room in preparation for the procedure. An IV stand here, a tray of instruments there. Everything was sterile and ready to take care of the man. The nurse finally approached the waiting patient and prepared the gas that would render him unconscious for the duration of the dental work. The assistant asked if he was ready and lowered the mask onto his face.

“Just take a few deep breaths and we’ll see you in a little while Mr. Smith”

Mr. Smith? That’s not right. The Staff Sergeant was fading quickly and barely mumbled,

“I’m not Smith I’m Johnsonnn….”

And that was the last thing he remembered until he woke. Unfortunately for Mr. Smith, he was scheduled for a root canal. Luckily for our Sergeant Johnson, the assistant heard his last minute confession and searched his pockets to find his ID. After confirming they had the right guy and the right file in the same room, they performed the correct procedure. I think the story would have been more fun if he would have gotten the unnecessary root canal.

 

The next story is one that could have been much more serious than a sore jaw, but the remedy to the situation was much more personal.

…Sergeant Akers knee was swollen to twice the size it should have been before he decided that it was time to go in. His wife drove him to the clinic and he hobbled into the ER. It was a busy night and they waited… and waited… and waited. Finally he was taken back to be seen and a flustered doctor blew in to the room a few minutes later. After a quick examination and few questions, the doctor concluded that all was needed was for Akers to “man up” and put some ice on it. Not happy with the answer, but with no other recourse, he hobbled back home.

A few days later, his leg would no longer fit into his uniform and nothing was getting better. It was time to go back in and try again. This time it turned out much differently for him however. Akers had an infection in his knee and was only a day or two away from facing an almost certain amputation. Long story short, he had to have what is called a PICC line inserted. A PICC line is essentially an IV that can be used for an extended amount of time and goes almost directly to the heart. So Akers is getting this inserted under his left arm and they start pushing fluid into the PICC line. This immediately caused him to lose his vision and fade to unconsciousness rapidly. Not normal. When he came to a short time later, he was understandably leery of trying again. The doctor however didn’t feel the same way. He looked at Akers, shrugged, and said,

“Hell, lets try again. See what happens.”

Akers can be a little rowdy anyways and at this point was having no more. When the doctor reached for the plunger, Akers reached out and got a firm hold on his manhood. Looking him right in the eyes, he calmly told him,

“We’re not going to do anything that neither of us want, right?”

Now that he had his attention, they sat there awkwardly and waited for the commander of the hospital to pay the two new best friends a visit. Turns out he was allergic to the medication that was being given to him and the situation was just as serious as Akers believed. Good thing for Akers he wasn’t shy.

 

These stories are just two of many such experiences throughout our armed forces. However, don’t misinterpret these stories. The armed services are full of consummate professionals who are excellent healthcare providers. These stories are simply a product of the system that they are forced to operate in. Overworked and understaffed is many times the norm in these facilities. These stories are meant to be humorous, and not meant to demean those in the medical services. However, the stories are a product of Government Healthcare and should also serve as a warning to those that believe it would be a good idea.

27 Things I wish Someone Told Me About Greek Life at UM

My name is Spencer Lawston and I am a senior and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon here at the University of Montana. While I also enjoy grilling on the front lawn and drinking PBR, I will be the first to admit I look nothing like Zac Efron.

When I first came to school I never pictured myself as a “frat guy” and to this day I am still amazed that I decided to go through recruitment. Looking back now, joining a fraternity was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but Ill talk about that a little later. When I first joined I had no idea what to expect, and to this day I am still surprised by some things. This article is all about the 27 things I wish someone would have told me when I decided to join Greek life at the University of Montana.

 

  1. Float building during Homecoming is chaotic- Houses get paired up and have to come up with a creative float idea to match the same homecoming theme every year. It’s always a chaotic rush to finish before Saturday morning at 8 because we don’t start until Friday night typically.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.41.54 AM
  2. You can move into your house as a freshman- Instead of living in a cramped dorm room with a random roommate for another semester, you could move in to your immaculate, lavish, and spacious chapter house (for those that have them at least).
  3. Every fraternity and sorority has a “sweetheart” and it takes a lot of time and effort to become one- It usually takes a year of campaigning and a lot of participation from the entire chapter as well in order to win (no wonder SAE hadn’t had a member be a sweetheart in like 15 years).
  4. You can get J-boarded twice, in one year, while you’re already on probation, and stay on campus Somehow SAE got J-boarded for actually following the rules and enforcing a guest list at one of our “Unregistered Functions”. We also somehow managed to meet all the terms of our probation (shout out to Drew Hossle and Flagship) and get off of probation.
  5. Griz Mornings are a thing, and they are awesome- Nobody tailgates earlier, harder, or better than the Greeks do.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 3.55.17 PM
  6. Theta Kickball is the best philanthropic event in the universe- Seriously, who doesn’t like playing kickball all day? And all the money raised goes to charity, its a win win.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.32.56 PM
  7. Elections are the longest meetings of all time- Every semester we have to elect new position, and it always takes upwards of 3 hours. 3 hours of candidates telling you the same thing and asking for your vote.
  8. Greek life advisors change pretty frequently- Maureen gave way to Julie, who gave way to Caitlin (temporarily), luckily Caitlin is officially hired and will hopefully be here for a while.
  9. In 4 years we’d have 3 new chapters on campus- I mean two (R.I.P. Pike).
  10. Moving into the house for the first time is absolutely insane- I had no idea what I needed for my room when I first moved in. Moving is always difficult, but when 25 people are all trying to move into the same house at the same time, things get crazy.
  11. SAE’s Toga Party is the absolute best party of the year- This is pretty self explanatory, TOGA TOGA TOGA!!! 
  12. Senior games are a hilarious tribute to the seniors, at the expense of your underclassmen- Every senior loves getting schmoozed for a week. It’s a great way to celebrate making it through college, kinda.
  13. SAE would eliminate the pledge process all together- It was a huge announcement that completely changed the entire makeup of one of the largest fraternities in the country. It has forced us to completely re-organize our entire member education process and has increased the workload required by every member of the chapter.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.34.40 PM
  14. I would be in charge of recruitment- Somehow I got put in charge of running Fraternity recruitment. I had to scrap the old process and come up with an entirely new process. Everything went well and the new system is still pretty much intact. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my time here.
  15. I would tell a room full of parents that “we pretty much party every weekend”- I went into the presentation saying that I was going to be honest, and when a parent asked what the social scene was like, I responded honestly (I was actually scared for my well being when I looked over and saw Caitlin and Julie).
  16. The above statement would lead to one of the largest recruiting classes we’ve ever gotten- We got 117 new fraternity men that year, up from 30 in the previous year.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.36.42 PM
  17. Being VP of your house makes everyone hate you- Nobody likes you when you tell them that they have to follow the rules.
  18. Cupcake would become IFC President- Cupcake is arguably the most likable person in our Greek system so seeing him, and working with him, on an executive board was quiet the experience.
  19. The Dad bod would become a thing- And I would fully support and embrace it to the dismay of manyScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.25.22 PM
  20. I would lose the Mr. Anchorslam competition several times- I have been called the DG troll by some, and my friendship with pretty much all of the Delta Gammas is well known. In my early years I thought that I was a lock for Mr. Anchorman, clearly I was wrong, three times.
  21. Overnight functions are the best functions- It took 3 years but we finally went on an overnight function as a chapter. We rented out a huge house near Flathead Lake and stayed for 2 days. These two days were ridiculous and I cant really write anything else about it.Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.27.49 PM
  22. Going to National events is an absolute blast, and you learn some stuff too- I myself have been to Vegas, Miami, and the Bahamas on a cruise ship for national leadership schools. These events are located in highly desirable locations and have hundreds of other members in attendance. It gives you a chance to meet members from around the country and network with them.
  23. The entire Greek system can continuously come up with creative and unique themes for social events- It is a constant struggle for houses to come up with themes for social events but UM doesn’t disappoint. From highlighter and jungle, to the Harlem Shake and construction, UM Greeks show that they can stay creative and innovative.
  24. I would spend $1,000 on a bar tab at formal- We’ve all had nights where we come back from downtown and realize we spent way too much money. In most cases thats like $100. My Junior year at our Violet Ball Formal at the Ranch Club I somehow managed to rack up an $1,117 dollar tab. Apparently I told everyone in attendance I would buy their next round and also told the bartender to only use top shelf alcohol. Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.21.47 AM
  25. I would finally achieve my college long goal of becoming Mr. Anchorman- After 4 years of campaigning and probably $500 in spare change, I finally achieved my goal and was awarded the coveted prize, it was the best day of my college career, hands down.
  26. Greeks would be so rowdy during homecoming that all alcohol would be banned in Greek life- Never mind what actually happened and what the actual punishment was, TFM, The Kaimin, The Missoulian, and every other news agency in Montana ran with the headline “Alcohol banned in all Fraternities and Sororities”. #SoberForOctoberScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.23.58 AM
  27. Greek life at UM is a tight knit community- In the end, we’re a pretty small Greek system and we’re all tight knit. We all have friends in different houses and can all come together when we need to.

Trump Rejects Primaries in Favor of Fight Club

Donald Trump in a bold move has announced his intentions to settle the remaining GOP primaries via “something akin to fight club”. donaldtrump1

In a shocking turn of events the real estate mogul turned self funded politician announced his plan at a NASCAR rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee  ahead of the state’s primary.

“Look at these guys, scrawny fellas right? America was made great by burly beavermen who chopped wood with their own damn hands. We are a country united by our strength and love of protein shakes. Our founding fathers gave us the right to bare arms yet I haven’t seen a politician actively stand by that constitutional right since. Listen folks, we need a leader that knows how to lift.  How can we respect a candidate who doesn’t respect mad gains?”

“You guys ever see that movie Fight Club? I think that was a good system. Men asserting their power with their fists. The voting establishment of today doesn’t guarantee us a strong president or one with mad judo skills for that matter. Look at how they do this in Russia people, Putin came to power by boxing a bear and look where Russia is today. The point I’m trying to make here is that voting won’t give us the strongest leader ; which is why I’m calling out Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, and Carson to be men. Mano a mano, Trump Tower, Tomorrow”

In an interview later that day when asked why he took this drastic turn he responded by calling the other candidates “sweaty nerds who don’t even lift”, he followed “that this is probably their only chance at winning”.

Self-provided photo from Trump’s 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction

“I can do like 8 pull ups, these losers don’t stand a chance”

With Trump currently standing in the WWE Hall of Fame and being a former owner of Monday Night Raw this move to take his dominance in the polls to a physical arena comes as no surprise to pundits the world over. Vice President Joe Biden has already stepped forward to offer his skills as referee. Leaders the world over are already firmly grasping their lunch money in anticipation of the results of this election year.

WM_04012007dog_2224