By Cheryl Waterworth, Hamilton
Do you remember ‘why’ you live here? The Skalkaho Bend Park is a perfect example.
Science to support a human agenda does not stand up to millions of years of nature measured by a meandering river as powerful as the Bitterroot.
I came to Montana to be part of nature, not to control her. If we want to control the Bitterroot River, let’s just build a concrete channel, no erosion then!
You laugh, but what is being proposed is just as far-fetched. From the Bitter Root Water Forum’s (BRWF) map of the proposed project, the bank will have to erode anywhere from 50 feet to 100 plus feet to reach their “roots against erosion” (brwaterforum.org, Skalkaho Bend Park, October, 2020). Call this what it is, a huge revegetation project that will forever change the character and feel of this rare and beautiful open riparian park.
The maturing willows, aspens and cottonwood trees will not, as stated, offer “shading for the river.” (FAQ’s and Replies to Citizen Comments – BRWF, 2020) The only shade cast will be during morning hours, never during the heat of the day, unless you plan on changing the course of the sun. Also, if you measure the height of the volunteer willows on the sand bar across the river, how can you possibly guarantee, as stated, that the planted willows will “never grow over 10 feet tall”? (FAQ’s and Replies to Citizen Comments – BRWF, 2020)
More importantly, anyone limited to the American Disability Act trail will be greatly impacted. The trail from the parking lot to the bridge will not provide a panoramic view of the river once the proposed trees mature.
At this point, we lose the essence of ‘why’ we love Montana, not just this park.
To live in the embrace of nature and not destroy what we cannot control, is the essence and the attractiveness of this great place we all call home. We need to limit our footprint, not inject our will. For what is as close to Heaven on Earth, will be irrevocably lost!
Consider scaling back your proposed revegetation plan and focus on the more critical upstream corner. Review previous conversations and studies that have occurred before making a final decision that could negatively impact future generations of park users.
I ask that you use some commonsense and just be honest with yourselves and the public.
Let us not lose the uniqueness of Skalkaho Bend Park to “good intentions.”