Current issue: January-February 2015
In this issue:
34th Annual Photo Issue
When I travel to other parts of the United States, I’m often struck by how unsightly, identical, and overdeveloped so much of it is. The same office parks, the same residential areas, the same freeways with off-ramp retail spaces filled with identical box stores. One place resembles the other, and very few look like somewhere I’d want to live.
Of course, people need somewhere to work, live, and shop, not to mention roads to connect it all. Those highly developed landscapes undoubtedly make economic sense, especially in places packed with people. They just aren’t for me. Or you, either, in all likelihood.
A person can find at least some open space in urbanized communities that make hiking, cycling, and wildlife watching a priority. Unfortunately, those tiny nature reserves usually are ringed with multi-story houses and glass-walled office towers, making the land no wilder than a bored bobcat in the local zoo. Still, while visiting urban areas I sneak off whenever possible to these undeveloped parcels—usually wetlands and swamps too expensive to drain or fill—just to get a whiff of nature. But too soon I’m forced to leave and reenter the world of traffic, billboards, parking lots, and airport security lines.
Then I return to Montana. Whew.
What I find here is in large part represented by the remarkable images you see in this 34th edition of our photo issue—beauty, diversity, wildness, grandeur, and, above all, the sense of freedom that comes from being surrounded by such vast space and abundant public land and water. A place where you can drive around, look up at a mountain, and say to yourself, “I might hike up there someday,” or pass a river and think, “I might fish that stretch next summer.” And, in all likelihood, you could.
In this state of seemingly limitless outdoor possibilities, a person could see any of the scenery or wildlife featured in this issue of Montana Outdoors, depending on the season, the location, or happenstance. It’s likely that few of us will ever spot a lynx, or a hoary bat, or bighorn rams engaged in combat. As much time as I spend outdoors, I’ve never seen a mountain lion in the wild, or a wolverine. But someday I might, if I’m lucky enough or willing to hike a bit deeper into the wilderness.
Knowing that we live in a state where all these animals are actually out there, alive in the wild, in numbers often equal to what explorers found here 200 years ago, is just another reason why those of us who leave Montana, even for just a few days, can’t wait to get back.
—Tom Dickson, Editor
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