By JEN SLAYDEN
It only takes a spark to get a fire going……
Luckily, seldom does the quote translate literally into a major forest fire in my little community on the other side of the mountain. We have more important sparks happening…personalities that can put out fires and get neighbors fired up about community simultaneously.
Such was the group of like-minded individuals who were fueled with a desire to make our town healthier by founding the non-profit group Friends of Two Rivers (FO2R).
Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go. ~Blaise Pascal
Our town had weathered many changes, and some folks desired for the community to move in a healthier direction. Yet, the confluence of the river was being blocked by the Milltown Dam and a reservoir which was contaminated by toxic sediments.
Hence, in November 2002, a group of local residents hopped aboard to paddle their way through the toxic opposition and anger from other locals who wished the Dam to remain in place. They formed a group called Friends of 2 Rivers.
According to Gary Matson, F02R Secretary/Treasurer:
“During the time when the Environmental Protection Agency was working on a design for a clean-up of the Milltown Reservoir, it became evident that removal of the Milltown Dam was an important part of an effective, long-term solution. It would permanently rid Milltown’s groundwater of arsenic. It would permanently eliminate the pulses of toxic sediment releases that poisoned the Clark Fork River during flood and/or ice scour events.”
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb
Luckily, even the Governor at that time, Judy Martz, saw the vision that the group, who was lobbying at the state level and channeling time and money into their efforts. Perhaps she thought of the future generations who would call Bonner home. Subsequently, she announced in her January, 2003 State of the State address that she appreciated the local efforts of the community and Friends of 2 Rivers. She was in support of the Milltown Dam removal, and this proved to be key in enabling the removal to take place.
When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves. ~David Orr
Our town is not fixed, but it is healing. The waters of one hundred years ago are now married again and celebrate their union while they gently flow toward Missoula. FO2R is still going strong, working hard to educate the public about sustainable living practices, as well as sponsoring several events per year that enhance the quality of life for residents in and all around Bonner.
Enthusiasm about the Bonner/Milltown area streams into Missoula, where residents will eventually benefit from the new Milltown State Park. Because of this, many Missoulians are becoming more interested and informed about what is happening on our side of the mountain. It is great to see that they support their Bonner neighbors, many whom work in Missoula, have kids in the school district, and support local businesses.
One such business, a new favorite Missoula watering hole, is the Flathead Lake Brewing Company. When they were approached by FO2R board member Shawn Crimmins about supporting the organization, they were happy to help out! Wednesday evening, September 21st is trivia night at FLBC, and they will be graciously donating $1 of every beer sold that evening directly to F02R. The first round of trivia that evening will be DAM trivia, so come and see how much you know about the history of the Milltown Dam, and bid on the several wonderful auction items that will be displayed.
The old disagreements about the dam are mostly water under the bridge, since there is no longer a dam thing to fight about, and F02R continues to work hard in the community to make Bonner a wonderful place to live and recreate.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Theodore Roosevelt
Please join Friends of 2 Rivers at Flathead Lake Brewing Company on Wednesday, September 21st from 5pm-11pm, to enjoy trivia, friendship, and cold, tasty beer!
Enjoy this story by Jen Slayden? You might enjoy some of her other perspectives on Life on the Other Side of the Mountain (Bonner): Missoula is Like Relaxed Fit Jeans, The Good Ol’ Summertime Part I, Year Book: Generations of Bonner School Students Part I, or Year Book: Generations of Bonner School Students Part II. You may also like to learn about the History of Missoula.
Jen Slayden is a Missoulian who makes her home on the outskirts of town with three outdoorsy kids, a fly-fishing guide husband, and a outdoor loving black lab named Cody. She juggles her time teaching music, life coaching, playing music in her family bluegrass band and taking in all the great recreational and cultural activities that Missoula has to offer. Then she writes about it all on her own website: Find Your Harmony.