Montana Public Radio

Environment

Montana news covering wildlife, public lands, natural resources and more.

“Eager" is the powerful story of how nature’s most ingenious architects shaped our world, and how they can help save it—if we let them. Ben Goldfarb’s captivating book reveals how beavers transformed our landscapes, and how modern-day “Beaver Believers”—including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens—are recruiting these ecosystem engineers to help us fight our most pressing environmental problems. The Washington Post calls it, “A masterpiece of a treatise on the natural world” and The Boston Globe calls it, “The best sort of environmental journalism.”

When Bob Quinn was a kid, a stranger at a county fair gave him a few kernels of an unusual grain. Little did he know, that grain would change his life. Years later, after finishing a PhD in plant biochemistry and returning to his family's farm in Montana, Bob started experimenting with organic wheat. In the beginning, his concern wasn't health or the environment; he just wanted to make a decent living and some chance encounters led him to organics.

Grizzly bear historic and current range.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Sources: IUCN, M. Proctor, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.

Chelsea Green

Renowned animal behaviorist Fred Provenza spent his academic career researching how animals respond to an intricately tuned system of flavor-feedback relationships at the cellular level—a nutritional wisdom that guides them to eat the appropriate combinations of foods to meet their dietary needs. But what about us? Do humans still possess the wisdom to select nourishing diets?

From the killer bee-infested border region of southeast Arizona to the sultry islands of the Galapagos, Warblers & Woodpeckers recounts the quest of a father and his thirteen-year-old son to see as many birds as possible in a single year.

Patagonia

"I, for one, choose a world in which I am not always at the top of the food chain. It's good, sometimes, to near a summit only to be turned back by a world that is bigger than your ambition." -- Jim Williams

In a little-known North American rainforest lives a reclusive animal more commonly associated with the Arctic. The mountain caribou exists on the edge of extinction—a dire situation that offers us the gift of understanding how we, as humans, affect even the most remote places on the planet and that our personal, political, and environmental choices matter. 

Milkweed

A hearth is many things: a place for solitude, a source of identity, something we make and share with others, a history of ourselves and our homes. It is the fixed center we return to, and it is just as intrinsically portable. It is, in short, the perfect metaphor for what we seek in these complex and contradictory times—set in flux by climate change, economic emergencies, migration, the refugee crisis, and the dislocating effects of technology.

In Italian, there is no word for wilderness. Yet in the mountains of Italy, brown bears not only exist, they are fighting to survive amid encroaching development, local and international politics, and the mafia. This meticulously researched and eye-opening book tells the incredible stories of two special populations of bears in Italy--one the last vestige of a former time that persists against all odds, the other a great experiment in rewilding that, if successful, promises to change how we see not only Italy but all of Europe.

"The mountains have an intrinsic value: hunters, fisherman, hikers, and people that just want to drive by and see them out of their window. The mountains have this aesthetic protection but the desert is much more fragile and much more under siege by mining companies and petroleum companies. . . " -- Jack Clinton

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