By Alkali Springs Correspondent
On a hot August morning, we were in a hurry to get to Lewistown so took the cut-off south of Big Sandy, across the bridge at Judith Landing, and on into Lewistown.
We had not been on that road for several years now and while traveling it, several things came to mind.
First, of course, even on a hot and smoky morning, there is all that incredible beauty the beauty of all those mountain ranges in the distance. But even more beautiful than that was the beauty of the Breaks themselves huge, silent, awesome, in the murky sun. Heavily treed with huge cliffs in the distance, it was easy to see why there is such a great fight about them going on now.
Not only that, but while we had heard what a big business the Breaks had become, this was the first time we had seen it up front and personal. The last time we had landed at Judith Landing, there was nothing there. On this August day there were three government employees sitting in front of their RV, waiting for something to happen. Not only that, but there must have been at least a couple dozen cars giving silent testimony to the fact that there were plenty of people on the river.
It is not our intention to get into the river controversy. We don't have a clue who is right or who is wrong or who should manage how much land if it remains a national monument.
However, seeing all those cars, many of which had out-of-state plates on them, it reminded us of one basic problem that we denizens of northern Montana possess.
Let's start at the beginning. From day one, those of us who live north of the Missouri have been "short sheeted" in about everything done around the state. Our highways are dismal at best, our share of the government "pie" is dismal, as if to match our roads. Forget a four-lane for Highway 2 for a moment. How many generations will it be before the road we were on that morning will ever be paved?
We drive to the campus of the University of Montana at Missoula to see hoards of students and big buildings being built all the time, and when we drive the campus of Northern we can hardly get through it without breaking a spring!
It is that way with most everything around here. Why, out on Beaver Creek, it takes months just to get a bridge repaired by the state of Montana.
Now what does all that have to do with the Breaks, you might ask.
Just this. We have so little that what we do have we seem to guard with a zealousness that resembles that of the early Christians. We know of many people who are very upset that folk from Great Falls and other points are fishing on Beaver Creek Reservoir and Bear Paw Lake. We know of many people who want our parks and playgrounds for us, period. Perhaps that same attitude pervades the Missouri Wild and Scenic corridor. Now, let us say that it is a bad attitude and won't get us anywhere in the future. But just spend a few years living here and you can certainly see quickly how that attitude got here in the first place. Maybe the stepchild cannot go to the ball, but she sure can guard her place by the chimney!
Labor Day is this weekend. Beaver Creek Park will probably be full, so drive carefully!