Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame

The People Behind the Place

Montana’s new Outdoor Hall of Fame celebrates the broad cross-section of individuals who’ve made—and continue to make—this wild and scenic state what it is today. By Tom Dickson

This story is featured in Montana Outdoors March-April 2015 issue

If you recognize the name Granville Stuart, it’s likely from a school history class. Pioneer, gold prospector, businessman, civic leader, vigilante, author, cattleman, and diplomat, Stuart lived a life that fully embodied the early history of Montana Territory and the state of Montana.

Yet few Montanans know that Stuart was also a visionary conservationist, among the territory’s first leaders to call for restrictions on fish and game harvest. “If the legislature does not enact some laws in regard to game and fish,” he wrote in the late 19th century, “there will not be in a few years so much as a minnow or deer left alive in all the territory.” Stuart also founded the Helena Rifle Club, Montana’s first local sportsmen’s group that advocated for a state conservation code.

More than a century later, Chris Marchion is carrying on the good work begun by Stuart. Over the past three decades, the Anaconda
resident has served as president of both the Anaconda Sportsmen Club and Montana Wildlife Federation (the latter for three terms), advocated on behalf of bighorn sheep conservation, championed protection of roadless forest lands, and helped ban game farm hunting.

Between the times of Stuart and Marchion, thousands of Montanans—ranchers, laborers, nurses, attorneys, teachers, legislators, and more—have volunteered time and energy to conserve the state’s wild rivers, wild lands, and wildlife populations. Yet, in a state renowned for its unspoiled outdoors, few of the people who helped keep it that way have received official recognition. That’s begun to change.

In December 2014, an inaugural class of 12 individuals—living and deceased—were inducted into the newly formed Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Helena. Longtime conservationist and author Jim Posewitz of Helena, who spearheaded the effort to establish a hall of fame, says he modeled it after one in Wyoming. Posewitz enlisted the support of Montana Historical Society director Bruce Whittenberg to verify the histories and significance of the nominees. He also
recruited representatives from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Montana’s Outdoor Legacy Foundation, the Montana Wildlife Federation, the Montana Wilderness Association, and Montana Trout Unlimited to select the first class of inductees.

Posewitz points out that the history of Montana usually focuses on the fur trade, mining, logging, farming, ranching, and other development that has sustained people economically. “But Montana is also our free-running rivers filled with trout, our wilderness, our foothills and prairies teeming with elk and antelope,” he says. “All of that has been restored, nurtured, and conserved by individuals who value those amenities and want to embed a conservation ethic into our culture. By collecting their stories and institutionalizing them in the hall of fame, they become another part of how we talk about Montana’s great history.”

Thomas Baumeister, chief of the FWP Education Bureau and a member of the nominating committee, says the restoration, protection, and stewardship of Montana’s outdoors is a job far too big for just one or two interest groups. “Conservation is a big tent, one that invites and needs a diversity of people interested in the natural world,” he says. “Making Montana the state it is today has required the participation of wilderness advocates, hunters, land trust donors, landowners, anglers, wildlife watchers, you name it. All of them care about the wild and unspoiled nature of this state and have committed themselves to helping keep it that way. It’s that combination of diversity and personal commitment that the new hall of fame is celebrating.”

Future Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame nominations will be open to the public (see bottom of page 27). A review committee comprising Montana conservationists from across the state will make final selections for a new class of inductees every two years.Bear bullet

Tom Dickson is editor of Montana Outdoors.


Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame

2014 Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame Inductees

Granville Stuart, 1834–1918

Later dubbed “Mr. Montana” for his unparalleled contributions to the early development of the territory and then the state, Granville Stuart witnessed firsthand the near extirpation of many big game populations in the latter half of the 19th century. While in the Judith Basin, he observed thousands “of buffalo darken[ing] the rolling plains. There were deer, antelope, elk, wolves, and coyotes on every hill and in every ravine and thicket.” Just three years later, he wrote, “there was not one buffalo remaining on the range and the antelope, elk, and deer were indeed scarce.” Granville and his brother, James, successfully sought legislation in 1864 to protect trout populations from seining and to restrict harvest to hook and line only. In 1872 the brothers helped convince the Territorial Legislature to restrict, for the first time, hunting seasons on bison, moose, elk, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn to protect the populations.

✮ Theodore Roosevelt, 1858–1919

President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation ethic was forged during hunting trips in Montana and other western states. There he saw how commercial harvest decimated bison, bighorn sheep, and other big game herds. As president, Roosevelt called for restoring big game populations and setting aside public land to be held in the public trust. Among his many conservation policies and achievements: preserving 230 million acres nationwide as wildlife refuges, national monuments, national parks, federal bird preserves, and national game ranges, and establishing another 150 million acres as forest reserves. “Our aim,” he announced to the nation, “is to preserve our natural resources for the public as a whole, for the average man and the average woman who make up the body of the American people.”

✮ Charles M. Russell, 1864–1926

Charlie Russell moved to Montana from Missouri in 1880 when he was 16 and lived here the rest of his life. He painted the Wild West just as it was slipping away, capturing fleeting moments capable of inspiring others to restore what had been lost. The artist lamented how the West had been neutered by railroads, telegraph lines, and pioneers. “Civilization is nature’s worst enemy,” Russell wrote in 1919. “All wild things vanish when she comes.” His paintings of Indians, wildlife, and the Corps of Discovery created a tableau of what Montana had been like before European settlement, giving conservationists a vision of what some of the state might one day become again.

✮ Lee Metcalf, 1911–1978

It’s no wonder the wilderness area in southwestern Montana is named after U.S. Senator Lee Metcalf. He led the fight—and it was indeed a struggle—to create and pass the Wilderness Act of 1964. Metcalf was born in Stevensville in 1911 and earned his law degree from the University of Montana. For a quarter century (1953 to 1978) he represented Montana and environmental issues in Washington, D.C., as a congressman and then a U.S. senator. In addition to his advocacy for wilderness, Metcalf sponsored, co-sponsored, or wrote conservation legislation for the Clean Air Act of 1963, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1964, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, and the Clean Air Act of 1972.

✮ Don Aldrich, 1912–1990

Born in Deer Lodge in 1912, Aldrich spent most of his life as a citizen advocate for conservation. He worked 33 years for the Montana Power Company, often returning home for a quick dinner before heading back out for his second “shift” to lead various conservation groups. He turned the Missoula-based Western Montana Fish and Game Association from a “good old boy” club, as he called it, to a formidable organization that advocated conservation-based wildlife management. He served for more than three dec­ades as treasurer, vice president, president, or executive secretary of the Montana Wildlife Federation. He also established a statewide telephone network that became today’s Montana Environmental Information Center. Aldrich took part in nearly every major Montana stream, wildlife, mining, wilderness, and energy issue from the 1950s until his death in 1990. He received several national conservation awards—including the prestigious American Motors Conservation Award in 1966—for his vast knowledge and remarkable ability to get things done.

✮ Bud Moore, 1917–2010

Bud Moore was a trapper, logger, hunter, and horse packer. But above all, the Montana native was an ecologist and naturalist, a man who fell in love with wilderness at an early age and spent his life working to conserve it. Moore was born in 1917 and grew up along the Bitterroot Mountains. At age 17 he convinced the U.S Forest Service to hire him. During his 40-year career with the agency, he led efforts to let fire play its historical ecological role in national forests. He helped found the agency’s current wilderness fire management policy and led, in the 1960s and ’70s, efforts to use wilderness fire in ecosystem management. In his work on national forests and his 80-acre property in the Swan Valley—where he resided in a hand-built cabin with his wife, Janet—Moore adhered to the principle of whole-land, or ecosystem, management, what he called, paraphrasing Aldo Leopold, “keeping all the parts.” Moore and his wife founded the Montana Trappers Association and helped establish the state’s trapper education program with the goal of improving trappers’ ethics and keeping alive the heritage of backcountry trapping.

✮ Thurman Trosper, 1918–2007

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Thurman Trosper was born in 1918 on the Flathead Indian Reservation. In addition to a career with the U.S. Forest Service—where he became one of the first American Indians to hold a management position—and other federal agencies, he became a leader in The Wilderness Society, including three years as the organization’s president. Trosper fought a proposed open-pit coal mine in British Columbia that threatened water quality in Flathead Lake. He pushed for designation of the Great Bear Wilderness, which Congress authorized in 1978. Trosper’s crowning achievement was in his own backyard. For eight years, he organized allies, led field trips, and was eventually successful in helping convince the Flathead Reservation Tribal Council to oppose clear-cutting the Mission Mountains behind his home and establish the nation’s first tribal wilderness area, the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness.

✮ Doris Milner, 1920–2007

After Doris Milner moved to Hamilton in 1951 at age 31, she spent the rest of her life working to preserve wilderness across western Montana. Her advocacy began in the early 1960s, when she spotted a bulldozer near a favorite camping spot along the upper Selway River, just over the Idaho border. She soon co-founded a conservation group to oppose permanent development of a pristine 100-mile stretch of the wild river. “All I knew was I was mad—and I was going to do something about it,” she told a journalist in 2004. And she did, eventually helping secure designation of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Milner, who died in 2007 at age 87, was a long-time member, and president for three years, of the Montana Wilderness Association. She was named one of the nation’s top ten conservationists in 1978 by American Motors Corporation. “Her perseverance was epic,” says friend and writer Dale Burk, of Stevensville, “but she also based her stance on a scientific analysis of the law of nature and the law of the land. That set her apart from many other activists.”

✮ Cecil Garland, 1925–2014

Anyone who has hiked, hunted, or fished in the Scapegoat Wilderness has Cecil Garland to thank. After moving to Lincoln in 1955 from his home state of North Carolina, Garland fell in love with the wilderness of the upper Blackfoot River watershed. Concerned that the wild and scenic forests would soon be ruined, he helped form the Lincoln Back Country Protective Association and gained support to end logging in the area, despite community protests and even boycotts of his hardware store. The Scapegoat was designated by Congress as a wilderness in 1972. It was the first area to enter the wilderness system by citizen initiative rather than by nomination from the federal agencies jointly responsible for the lands.

Garland later served as both vice president and president of the Montana Wilderness Association.

✮ Gerry Jennings, 1940–

A mother of four and previously a university nursing instructor, Gerry Jennings has been a fixture in Montana’s wilderness advocacy community since 1993. The 74-year-old Great Falls resident has twice served as president of her local chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association and was president of the MWA State Council from 2002 to 2006. Jennings says that even though Montana offers abundant recreational opportunities, wildlife, and scenery, citizen involvement is essential for keeping it that way. “The wildlands, the skiing, and the biking will be there for me and my husband for the rest of our lifetimes,” she says. “But I want the same activities, solitude, and protected lands to be available for our kids and grandkids, and the rest of their generation, as they get older.”

✮ Ron Marcoux, 1942–

In the mid-1970s, FWP biologists conducted studies showing that stocking trout on top of wild trout populations resulted in fewer fish overall. Ron Marcoux, FWP regional fisheries manager in Bozeman, and other agency officials stood behind the research and helped champion what, after initial and widespread criticism, became a statewide policy not to stock rivers. The policy has since created some of the nation’s top blue-ribbon trout fisheries. During the 1980s, while he was FWP associate director and deputy director, Marcoux represented the agency in advocating for the Stream Access Law of 1985, the Block Management Program, and the Habitat Montana Program. After leaving FWP, Marcoux worked for 15 years in leadership positions at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where he developed the organization’s land acquisition, conservation easement, and land-donation programs.

✮ Chris Marchion, 1952–

If anyone embodies the Montana citizen conservationist, it’s Chris Marchion. Every year for the past three decades, Marchion has been secretary, vice president, or president of the Anaconda Sportsmen Club. For 14 years he was on the executive board of the Montana Wildlife Federation, and for 20 years he served on a citizen’s advisory committee that reviewed state and federal habitat projects on public lands. Among the 62-year-old Anaconda resident’s most notable achievements: drafting and seeing to passage Montana’s bighorn sheep auction bill, which has raised millions of dollars for wild sheep conservation and management; helping protect 35,000 acres of critical habitat that adjoin the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area; and leading the fight to ban, through a Montana ballot initiative, the shooting of captive wildlife. He has also helped build structures at fishing access sites, planted willows along stream banks, and assisted with controlled burns to reinvigorate forage on elk winter range.