Brent Zundel is a hydrologist for the Bozeman Regional Office of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). His position as an unelected bureaucrat allows him to dispense timeless advice like, “Whiskey’s for drinkin’, and water’s for fightin’ over.”
In 2015, he spent a nine-month sabbatical as a Fulbright researcher in Concepción, Chile, studying water resource management in south-central Chile, where he refined his passion for pisco, palta (avocado), and unintelligible Spanish slang.
He graduated from Montana State University in May 2013 with a B.S. in environmental engineering, a B.A. in Hispanic studies, and a minor in Latin American and Latino studies.
He began writing for what was then the “static” section of the MSU Exponent in January 2009, served two years as opinion editor — where he helped revamp and rebrand the section — and worked as the senior opinion columnist during his final year, 2012 – 2013. In addition to his opinion columns, he regularly contributed satirical Sugarbeet articles, outdoors essays, and occasional feature-style reporting pieces, in addition to writing a biweekly Brewponent column on Montana beers and microbreweries.
He currently contributes to the Last Best Plates, an online magazine/blog that aims to share all of the “delicious stories, places, and people of Montana … one plate at a time.”
In addition to his writing pursuits, he has traveled to El Salvador with Montana Tech’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, studied language and culture in southern Chile in 2010, served as an MSU Engineering Ambassador and Spanish tutor, and interned at the Idaho National Laboratory. During summer 2013, he traveled to Cuba to study revolution, culture, and race, before working at the MSU Environmental Analytical Lab on an interdisciplinary water quality project in Montana’s Judith Basin.
In his free time, he enjoys fishing, hunting, backpacking, photography, oil painting, brewing and drinking good beer, gardening, reading, and practicing his Spanish.
Mr. Zundel’s writings run a broad range of interests, from wilderness and public lands to Bozeman’s faith communities, from civil rights to campaign finance, from travel in Latin America to studying the cultural significance of beer. In his time, he has written about the opening of three Montana microbreweries, Montana’s challenge to Citizens United, threats to Montana’s coveted Stream Access Law, and the time MSU’s student newspaper chartered a plane to take aerial photographs of an apocalyptic church.
Originally from Billings, Mr. Zundel is in love with Montana. The Montana ethic, with nuances and identity quirks that vary more than the elevation from the Kootenai River to Granite Peak, informs his writing.
The opinions expressed in Mountain Solitaire are exclusively mine and are not endorsed by DNRC, the Fulbright Program, MSU, or any other agency or entity.