Tag Archive | Montana

Ted Turner’s Vague, Quixotic Quest to Save the West

The shining mountains and rolling green hills at Turner’s Flying D Ranch, located just south of Bozeman, Montana. Photo courtesy Turner Enterprises.

The shining mountains and rolling green hills at Turner’s Flying D Ranch, located just south of Bozeman, Montana. Photo courtesy Turner Enterprises.

Turner’s brand of privatization-for-preservation contradicts Montana’s hard-won land ethic

By Brent Zundel
For the Bozeman Magpie
February 25, 2014

Turner stalks the banks as he fishes a stream flowing through his property. Photo courtesy Kurt Markus, Outside Magazine.

Ted Turner fishes a stream flowing through his property. Photo courtesy Kurt Markus, Outside Magazine.

Everyone from United Nations admirers to global environmentalists lauds Ted Turner as a hero. “Last Stand,” Bozeman-based author Todd Wilkinson’s in-depth biography, subtitled “Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet,” purports to delve into this “fascinating and flawed” man, but the result is more adoring prose than objective journalism.

Apart from recycling tired and easily brushed-aside criticisms of Turner’s brash “Mouth of the South” style and Montanans’ initial annoyances with him, Wilkinson’s biography does not delve deeply into Turner’s interactions with and impact on the people living in this state.

If Turner is saving the world, why then doesn’t he enjoy that unabashedly positive reputation in Montana? Read More…

Can I Pay for that Whiskey with Dark Money?

Fly rod and whiskey flask — the perfect Montana combination. Photo courtesy Bozeman Spirits Distillery

Fly rod and whiskey flask — the perfect Montana combination. Photo courtesy Bozeman Spirits Distillery

By Brent Zundel
For the Bozeman Magpie
August 25, 2013

Author’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Bozeman Magpie. Mr. Art Wittich did not respond to multiple requests for comment until after this piece was published. The piece below has been updated to reflect his statements.

A lawsuit that was filed against the City of Bozeman in June could have wide-ranging impacts on Montana’s burgeoning distillery industry. The law firm of Montana Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, is leading a suit against the City of Bozeman for allowing a new microdistillery to open its doors in Bozeman’s historic downtown.

In May, the Bozeman City Commission approved a conditional use permit that would allow Bozeman Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room to open at 121 West Main Street, the property previously occupied by Schnee’s, a footwear and outdoor clothing retailer. That would put the new distillery within Bozeman’s historic downtown, right next door to the landmark Baxter Hotel. Jim R. Harris, III, is the would-be proprietor of Bozeman Spirits, a man who’s lived in Bozeman for over two decades and helped co-found the popular Outside Bozeman magazine.

Brit Fontenot, Bozeman’s Directory of Economic Development, welcomed the potential addition of a microdistillery to downtown. Read More…

Educating Montana’s Sons and Daughters

Photo by Kate Juedes, MSU Exponent

Photo by Kate Juedes, MSU Exponent

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 25, 2013

He just deferred a position with Teach For America (TFA) to accept an English teaching position in Germany with the Fulbright Program. His new fiancé is going to Germany with him — on a Fulbright of her own. They both graduated with high honors from the University of Montana in fall 2012.

By all accounts, Paul Asleson and Alice Krebill are exactly the type of people our state needs: intelligent, driven, successful and passionate about educating future generations. Read More…

A Beer Drinker’s Manifesto

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Author Brent Zundel

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 18, 2013

An old aphorism claims beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. And when one adds to Montana’s world-class beer offerings the breathtaking diversity of our landscape, from the eastern prairies to the western mountains, one could be forgiven for believing that Providence has especially favored our state.

If the state legislature maintains its sometimes wavering support of our homegrown microbreweries, Montana will be well on its way to establishing itself as the Napa Valley of beer within a few short years. Boasting the second most breweries per capita in the nation, we already have 38 breweries — with nearly 10 more in the works — that are adding value to the agricultural products that comprise the backbone of the state’s industry. Read More…

Montana GOP Outlines Strategy during Weeklong Retreat in Mordor

By Brent Zundel and Pat Hessman
For the MSU Exponent
April 11, 2013

Note: This column originally appeared as part of the Exponent’s Sugarbeet page, a satirical biweekly feature that attempts to stimulate discussion of critical community issues.

Members of the Montana GOP outline their strategy during a recent weeklong retreat in Mordor. Illustration by Pat Hessman, MSU Exponent

Members of the Montana GOP outline their strategy during a recent weeklong retreat in Mordor. Illustration by Pat Hessman, MSU Exponent

The Dark Lord Sauron’s index finger was conspicuously bare as he stabbed at a Billings Gazette article about Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan to fight dark money in Montana politics.

“What do we need to do to better spread our cold grip across the state?” he bellowed as the savage roar of Republican legislators rose all around him. His thunderous words were well-received, with those in attendance firing assault rifles into the air, beating their foreheads with Bibles and knocking back shot after shot of Roughstock Montana Whiskey.

Speaking from behind the Black Gate, the Dark Lord led Republican legislators during their annual strategy retreat in Mordor. Throughout the weeklong event, Republicans from across the state looked at ways to move their party forward into the 19th century, from resisting any federal attempts to enforce gun control to fighting for lower taxes. Read More…

The Case for Ending Coal

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin. Photo courtesty itsgettinghotinhere.org

A coal mine in the Powder River Basin. Photo courtesty itsgettinghotinhere.org

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
April 11, 2013

For generations, American Indians considered the arid rolling hills in the Powder River Basin sacred. From time to time, the ground would naturally catch fire, spewing smoke into the air.

The ground itself didn’t really catch fire, of course; rather, the coal locked up in it did. Today, that land is still sacred, though to a vastly different demographic. Read More…

Tavern Association Sours Montana Microbreweries’ Mash

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
March 21, 2013

If one special interest group has its way, Montana taps might soon run dry from Wibaux to Whitefish. The Montana Tavern Association (MTA) has spent the current legislative session sponsoring bills that would devastate the state’s burgeoning microbrewery scene.

Illustration by Jen Rogers, MSU Exponent

Illustration by Jen Rogers, MSU Exponent

With our state ranking second in the nation for microbreweries per capita, Montanans love our beer. An October 2012 study showed that craft breweries contribute $50 million to the economy, $1.5 million to the state’s coffers and about 500 jobs to the state.

Despite this, at the start of the 2013 legislative session, Rep. Jeff Welborn, R-Dillon, introduced a bill that would have restricted microbreweries to selling only 10 percent of their beer on site. The rest would have to be sold at bars or retail outlets, a requirement that could have shuttered 31 of Montana’s 38 microbreweries. Vigorous and immediate uproar killed the bill.

The text of another MTA-backed bill, sponsored by Rep. Roger Hagan, R-Great Falls, was just released Tuesday, March 19. This bill is no better: It would allow breweries to sell only 40 percent of their beer in sample rooms. Read More…

Montana GOP Launches Actual ‘War on Women’

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
March 7, 2013

Note: This column originally appeared as part of the Exponent’s Sugarbeet page, a satirical biweekly feature that attempts to stimulate discussion of critical community issues.

An extremist faction within the Montana GOP has formally declared an actual “War on Women.” Led by Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, the paramilitary group launched a failed coup d’état against MSU President Waded Cruzado this Monday, March 4, underscoring the tension that has torn Montana families apart and pitted brother against sister.

Cruzado successfully staved off the coup from her perch in Montana Hall, where she runs the university with a panel of buttons and levers. The all-male group of legislators was repelled by Cruzado’s secret all-woman police force, headed by outgoing ASMSU President Kiah Abbey.

According to reports, the secret police — comprised of VOICE Center volunteers and performers from last week’s Vagina Monologues — repelled the attackers by launching copies of “The Feminine Mystique” and flaming bras from a trebuchet mounted on Montana Hall’s central turret. Read More…

Montana Legislature Lacks Land Ethic

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
March 7, 2013

This week marks the halfway point of the 63rd Legislature. As that milestone blows past us like a half-bent mile marker on a poorly patrolled Montana highway, examining the progress so far proves very telling.

If one thing has become painfully obvious, it is the startling lack of a land ethic informing our legislators. Both this and the 2011 session have contained slews of bills designed to weaken access to public lands, damage the integrity of our wildlife populations, and privatize our rights to a clean environment in favor of industry profit.

On Monday, Feb. 18, sportsmen crowded the Montana Capitol in support of House Bill 235, which would have allowed corner crossings on public land. Photo by Eliza Wiley/Independent Record.

On Monday, Feb. 18, sportsmen crowded the Montana Capitol in support of House Bill 235, which would have allowed corner crossings on public land. Photo by Eliza Wiley/Independent Record.

And let’s be clear: Only one party consistently opposes reasonable solutions to many of these problems. The most recent example of the GOP’s unyielding opposition is the failure of House Bill 235, known as the “corner crossing bill.” Read More…

New Brewery Combines Craft Beer and Craft Pizza

By Brent Zundel
For the MSU Exponent
March 3, 2013

Bridger Brewing became the newest addition to Bozeman’s collection of microbreweries this Saturday, March 2. Located in the Town & Country complex just a block away from the MSU campus, the brewery is serving up “craft beer with craft pizza,” according to General Manager and Owner David Breck.

The sign above Bridger Brewing's bar. Photo by Brent Zundel

The sign above Bridger Brewing’s bar. Photo by Brent Zundel

Last night, Bridger Brewing held a family and friends night as a trial run, but today is their first day open to the public. Business was brisk, but not crowded as a group of friends and I were seated in a cozy corner table right away.

The brewpub’s ambiance is a significant shift away from any of the others in town. Large floor-to-ceiling windows shower the entrance in light, but the back of the building opens up into a cavernous seating area with low mood lighting and sleek black tables. Read More…