Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Statewide Fisheries Management Plan was recently released for public comment. The Plan provides management direction for all state waters under the jurisdiction of MT FWP.

Mike Duncan, the fisheries manager for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 3, will discuss the extensive scientific research that went into the plan, the development process, which included many state officials and employees, and the role of the public in the public comment process. A public question and answer period will follow the presentation.

About the Speaker

Mike Duncan

Mike Duncan earned a Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology from Montana State University and is the author of numerous publications in various professional journals. He has extensive training as a fisheries biologist. His recent work in the Madison and Gallatin drainages, home to some of the country's most popular and contentious trout fisheries, showcases his ability to handle complex challenges effectively. He has extensive experience collaborating with state and federal agencies, private landowners and consulting firms. Mike has been involved in successfully restoring fish and wildlife habitats for numerous game and nongame species, including threatened and endangered species, in diverse landscapes across Montana.

 

The Montana Legislature’s 68th session ends May 5. Three reporters from the Montana Free Press who cover the Legislature will speak on significant results in the fields they report on. The panelists include Amanda Eggert (energy and environment) and Alex Sakariassen (voter access and education).

In addition, Susan Dana, emerita professor of law at Montana State University, will address legislation most vulnerable to Constitutional challenge.

OLLI will reserve 30 minutes for your questions. OLLI intends for this session to be informative and non-partisan reporting, not commentary on the legislators or wisdom (or not) of individual legislation. Therefore, please frame your questions accordingly.

About the Speakers

Susan Dana

Susan Dana is Professor Emerita of Business Law at MSU. During her 25-year career at MSU she taught a variety of law related courses in the Honors College and the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship where she also served as Associate Dean and Interim Dean. She has recently taught OLLI courses on both the First Amendment and the law of privacy and is also currently the Chair of the Board of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. She holds a B.A. in Classics from Brown University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Amanda Eggert

Amanda Eggert is an environmental reporter with Montana Free Press. Prior to becoming a full-time journalist, Amanda spent four years working with the Forest Service as a wildland firefighter. In addition to Montana Free Press, her work has appeared in Outside, High Country News, Mountain Outlaw, Montana Public Radio, Edible Bozeman and newspapers around the state. A native of Billings, she lives in Bozeman with her husband and two young sons.

Alex Sakariassen

Alex Sakariassen is a reporter with Montana Free Press focused on education and election administration. He's a 2008 graduate of the University of Montana's School of Journalism and spent nearly a decade covering politics and the environment for the alt-weekly Missoula Independent prior to the paper's closing in 2018. His work has appeared in High Country News, the LA Times, the Huffington Post, the Pacific Northwest Inlander and Mountain Outlaw Magazine. A Bismarck native, Alex lives, works, skis and fly-fishes out of Missoula.

 

 Jessica Ahlstrom, the City of Bozeman's water conservation manager, and Kerri Strasheim, regional manager for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation's Water Resources Division, will discuss the City of Bozeman and Gallatin Watershed water supplies, water use trends, and current and future water use and supply management efforts.

Bozeman and Gallatin County are fast-growing, drought-prone communities. They face numerous water supply constraints due to their location at the headwaters of the Upper Missouri River Watershed, the impacts of climate change on water supply yields and a challenging legal framework regarding new water rights appropriations. The city is prioritizing water conservation to ensure Bozeman has a reliable water supply in the future. On a larger level, the Gallatin Watershed basin faces similar water supply challenges. 

About the Speakers

Jessica Ahlstrom

Jessica Ahlstrom's work focuses on strategic program planning and community outreach to educate residents about Bozeman's water supply, drought risk, and the importance of water conservation to ensure a reliable water supply for the future. Ahlstrom graduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in land rehabilitation. She went on to work at the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center. In addition, she earned a graduate certificate in "Connecting Environmental Science and Decision Making," where she studied social and institutional barriers to data-driven decision-making and stakeholder involvement in environmental policy decisions.

Kerri Strasheim

Kerri Strasheim has been with the DNRC since 2005 and currently works in Gallatin, Park and Madison counties. She received her B.S. and M.S. in earth sciences from Montana State University, with an emphasis in geohydrology, microbiology, surface and ground water systems. Strasheim was raised on a flood-irrigated farm in Eastern Montana near Terry and learned to appreciate water from a young age.

 

As Bozeman and surrounding communities grow at breakneck speed, we depend upon HRDC (Human Resource Development Council) to help residents gain and maintain economic stability amid the high cost of living across the valley.

HRDC's CEO Heather Grenier and development director Kristin Hamburg will provide an update on their Community Commons Development. This new campus in northwest Bozeman will provide the community with a one-stop shop for access to food, housing, energy and other support. In addition, the campus will eventually be home to this community's first year-round emergency shelter facility.

In addition, Sunshine Ross, HRDC's transportation director, will discuss the ballot issue for the May election to form an Urban Transportation District and what's at stake for area residents. 

 

Kirsten Smith, coordinator for the Gallatin Behavioral Health Coalition, will discuss the coalition's goals and successes in addressing our community's behavioral health issues. She will also describe what the coalition hopes to achieve moving forward.

The Gallatin Behavioral Health Coalition works to address the Gallatin Valley's ongoing behavioral health needs and concerns for families, healthcare workers and emergency response professionals. The coalition's mission is to enhance and implement an appropriate system of prevention, intervention, treatment and rehabilitation for community members so that every person receives the right service in the right place every time.

About the Speakers

Kirsten Smith is the principal at Bloom Consulting, where she conducts research, policy, planning, facilitation and project management work across the lifespan, from pre-natal through the end of life, with projects that impact health, human services, economic and quality of life. 

 

Nicholas Ross, Director of Transportation and Engineering for the City of Bozeman, will discuss new initiatives to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety on the streets of Bozeman. He will also describe some of the challenges facing these efforts, including enforcing existing laws.

 

The Bozeman area offers many trails for winter enthusiasts traveling on skis, snowshoes and snow bikes. However, keeping this important winter recreation resource available to all ages has many challenges. Do you ever wonder how these trails are developed, maintained and supported? Join us for this informative and festive discussion on winter trails in the greater Bozeman area to get answers to these questions and more. The panelists will share updates for this winter, discuss exciting future plans and answer questions from the audience.

About the Speakers

Jen Beaston

Jen Beaston is the chief executive officer of Crosscut Mountain Sports Center.

Evan Weiss

Evan Weiss is the executive director of the Bridger Ski Foundation.

 

On the state level, the composition of the 2023 Legislature could have a lasting effect on Montana's remarkable state constitution. The composition of the U.S Congress will also affect many aspects of life in our community. What can we expect? State Senator Gordon Vance (R-Belgrade) and State Senator Diane Sands (D-Missoula) will discuss the election results and respond to questions from the audience. Sally Maison, vice president of the League of Women Voters Bozeman Area, will moderate the discussion. 

About the Speakers

Sally Maison

Sally Maison is a member of the board for the League of Women Voters of the Bozeman Area. She has long served as the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum Moderator and is the founder of Wonderlust, now known as Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Montana State University. 

Diane Sands

Diane Sands (Democratic Party) is a member of the Montana State Senate, representing District 49. She assumed office on January 5, 2015. Her current term ends on January 2, 2023. Sands ran for re-election to the Montana State Senate to represent District 49. She won in the general election on November 6, 2018. Sands served in the Montana House of Representatives, representing District 95 from 2007 to 2013. She previously served from 1997 through 1998. Sands earned her B.A. from the University of Montana. Her professional experience includes working as a political consultant. 

Gordon Vance

Gordon Vance (Republican Party) is a member of the Montana State Senate, representing District 34. He assumed office on January 5, 2015. His current term ends on January 2, 2023. He also served in the Montana House of Representatives, representing District 67 from 2009 to 2015. In the 2013-2014 session, Vance served as Majority Leader. Vance earned his B.A. in political science from Montana State University in 1975. His professional experience includes working as general manager at Power Play Motorsports, sales manager at Team Bozeman, owner of a car dealership and sales manager at Bozeman Ford. 

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Bozeman was one of the top five fastest growing micropolitan statistical areas in the country between 2010 and 2020, with the population increasing from 37,280 to 53,293. Bozeman was one of just six micropolitan areas to gain at least 15,000 people during that period.

The growth has contributed to substantial increases in housing prices, according to forum presenters. They say the rising costs have prevented some from purchasing a home in Bozeman while limiting affordable rental options for many citizens, impacting the availability of employees.

The October 14 event featuree interviews with peer communities struggling with housing affordability, including Missoula; Bend, Oregon; and Boise, Idaho. In addition, Bozeman City Commissioner Christopher Coburn highlighted Bozeman and Gallatin County's responses, solutions and additional ideas to help address the rental situation.

 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Bozeman was one of the top five fastest growing micropolitan statistical areas in the country between 2010 and 2020 with the population increasing from 37,280 to 53,293. Bozeman was also one of six micro areas to gain at least 15,000 people.

Rapid population growth in recent years has contributed to housing prices rising to unprecedented levels, preventing many in the community from purchasing a home. What may not be as evident is that rental options are also limited and expensive and are pricing out a significant portion of our citizenry and impacting the availability of employees.

The impact on Bozeman and Gallatin County is enormous and affects nearly all aspects of our lives, from having restaurants closing to not having enough nurses at our hospitals, fewer teachers to educate our children, or no one to deliver the newspaper.

Because the rental crisis impacts almost everyone in the community, OLLI at MSU is dedicating a two-part Friday Forum series to the topic in September and October. Part 1 in September will feature stories from local renters and business owners struggling to hire employees. City commissioner Terry Cunningham and County Commissioner Zach Brown will follow, addressing the financial and societal impacts that the rental crisis has on our community.

 

Join OLLI at MSU for the May Friday Forum to learn about opioid use and abuse. According to the American Medical Association, 35 states have had spikes in opioid-related mortality since the beginning of the pandemic. The CDC reports that in 2017 (most recent estimate), the economic impact of the U.S. opioid epidemic included $471 billion for costs associated with opioid use disorder and another $550 billion for costs related to fatal opioid overdoses.

In Montana, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that ground transporting EMS agencies responded to 836 opioid overdose-related 911 calls in 2021. Of all opioid-related 911 calls, 47.6% occurred in Small Metro Counties (NCHS Urban-Rural classification), including Gallatin County. In Gallatin County, 911 dispatch received 62 calls for overdose in 2019.

Panelists will describe ongoing efforts by local law enforcement to understand better and crackdown on opioid use in our community, the costs and impacts associated with the opioid epidemic, and the public health approach to this growing concern. They will also discuss access to and the effectiveness of available treatments for opioid addiction. Finally, participants will learn what community members can do to help reduce this widespread issue.

About the Speakers

Panelists included Brandn Green, principal researcher and co-owner of JG Research and Evaluation in Bozeman; Nate Kamerman, commander for the Missouri River Drug Task Force; Rowen Schuler, clinic manager for Community Medical Services in Montana; and Maureen Ward, injury prevention program manager for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Bureau, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. 

 

The Greater Yellowstone area’s outdoor recreational opportunities are a significant attraction for visitors and new, prospective, and longtime residents. Pandemic cabin fever and restrictions on indoor gatherings have added even greater user pressure on the lakes, rivers, parks and trails that make our community so attractive. Are area trails and backcountry being loved to death?   

A panel will discuss what happens when trails and backcountry areas become too popular. Some problems like trail degradation are obvious. However, other issues are harder to control and enforce, such as overflowing parking, trash, dog waste, and the inappropriate burial or removal of human waste. The panel will address the immediate and long-term impacts of the overuse of trails and other recreation areas, including environmental impacts, management strategies, and the burdens on government and private stewards. They will also discuss what the public can do to help.

About the Speakers

Panelists include Patrick Cross, executive director of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, Pat Doyle, marketing director at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and Alex Sienkiewicz, district ranger for the Yellowstone District of the U.S. Forest Service. 

 

Ellie Staley, executive director of the Downtown Bozeman Partnership, will discuss the impacts of rapid growth in the Gallatin Valley on historic Downtown Bozeman. For decades, Bozeman's thriving historic business district has been an anomaly in a landscape of dying downtowns throughout the West. But now, with big hotels and luxury condos moving into Downtown Bozeman at the same time long-time businesses such as Cactus Records are leaving, is the character of Downtown Bozeman changing forever? Staley will describe efforts by the Downtown Bozeman Partnership to ensure that - as the banners say - "Life is Downtown."

About the Speaker

Ellie Staley

Ellie Staley has worked for the Downtown Bozeman Partnership since 2006, first as the assistant director and now as the executive director. She has over 20 years of event coordination, sales and management experience at several established local businesses in addition to her work managing the membership, events and marketing for the Downtown Bozeman Association, the 501c6 non-profit arm of the Partnership. Staley has a deep love for the Downtown Bozeman community. Through her passion and hard work, she continues to play an important leadership role in our community through creative collaborations with small businesses, property owners, the City of Bozeman, and beyond. She is also committed to supporting social infrastructure and advocating for accessibility to the arts and culture.

 

From snow to water to trails, Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) experienced the busiest year in its history in 2021. SAR responded to 34 searches and 69 rescues, using helicopters in 17 of those calls. Collectively, 161 volunteers spent 4,472 hours responding to 134 missions and dedicated almost twice those hours on volunteer training alone. SAR staff and volunteers drop everything to search for the lost and missing and rescue the injured and stranded.

Last year was the first year SAR had a full-time staff to lead the charge due to positive community support for a mill levy passed in 2020. The demand for SAR continues to rise as does their ability and capability to respond to more technical terrain as our growing populations recreates throughout the county.

Who calls on SAR? What does SAR do? How is SAR supported? Join Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue commander Scott Secor, training coordinator Jason Revisky, and administrative assistant Erin Metzger as they answer these questions and discuss SAR services, trends, challenges and inner workings in Gallatin County.

 

Join Jeff Mihelich, city manager for the City of Bozeman, for an overview and discussion of the challenges faced by the City in managing rapid growth and minimizing the impact of worker shortages. Mihelich will discuss strategies for reducing the adverse effects currently being experienced. He will also describe the many opportunities the City can realize with the support of an expanded workforce and citizenry in the future.

About the Speakers

Jeff Mihelich

Jeff Mihelich began as Bozeman's city manager on May 26, 2020. He is a credentialed city manager with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). He has 28 years of experience in large cities, small towns, and counties, including his most recent term as deputy city manager and chief operating officer of Fort Collins, Colorado. 

 

Bridget Wilkinson, executive director for the One Valley Community Foundation, and Liz Moore, executive director of the Montana Nonprofit Association, will discuss the impact and value of nonprofits in the Gallatin Valley. They will also address the role nonprofits play in the prosperity and vitality of Montana as a whole. According to the National Council of Nonprofits, nonprofit organizations foster civic engagement and leadership, drive economic growth, and strengthen the fabric of our communities. Learn about how residents across Gallatin County, Montana, and the United States benefit every day from the work of nonprofits in one way or another. 

About the Speakers

Liz Moore

Liz Moore became the executive director of the Montana Nonprofit Association (MNA) in 2011 after 20 years in various roles in the nonprofit sector. MNA's mission is to provide leadership for Montana's nonprofit sector and partner with charitable nonprofits to promote a sustainable, networked, and influential sector. MNA's work is celebratory, holds meaning, depth and intellectual interest, and has a connection with every corner of Montana.

Bridget Wilkinson

Bridget Wilkinson became the first executive director for the One Valley Community Foundation in 2013, bringing with her over 12 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. The One Valley Community Foundation is a place-based funder that has galvanized more than $6 million for 200+ local nonprofit organizations and regional initiatives in and around the Gallatin Valley.

 

Scott Ellner, Chief Executive Officer of the Billings Clinic, Darci Bentson, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at Bozeman Health, and Lander Cooney, Chief Executive Officer at Community Health Partners, will participate in a panel discussion about rapid population growth in the Bozeman area and impacts on the provision of medical services. The medical community is responding to growth through expansion with greater diversity in services and providers. The panel will also discuss the unique challenges created by the pandemic and why understanding these challenges from the perspective of healthcare providers is important for community support.

Friday Forum offers presentations and lively discussions on timely topics. Friday Forum is free and open to the public.

About the Speakers

Scott Ellner

Chief Exectuive Officer of Billings Clinic

Darci Bentson

Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at Bozeman Health

Lander Cooney

Chief Executive Officer at Community Health Partners

 

People are moving to Gallatin County and Bozeman for the many amenities the area has to offer, especially recreation opportunities. How can these amenities be preserved?

The Triangle area of Gallatin County, namely the area between Bozeman, Four Corners, and
Belgrade, is experiencing change as a direct result of significant population growth. Gallatin County, the City of Belgrade, and the City of Bozeman all play a role in the area's development. In 2016, these three jurisdictions created the Planning Coordination Committee (PCC) to focus on issues and opportunities within the Triangle.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) also plays an important role in the development of this area, emphasizing planning and expanding the trail network. The Triangle Trails Plan was made available for public comment this year and represents an important step forward. Chet Work, executive director of GVLT, will discuss the status of the plan and the next steps. In addition, Work will also discuss trail access through Peet's Hill. This issue has been in the news, and GVLT is taking the lead in purchasing land to keep the trails intact. 

About the Speakers

Addi Jadin

Parks and Recreation Manager, City of Bozeman

Garrett McAllister

Senior Planner, Gallatin County

Chet Work

Executive Director, Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Deputy City Mayor Terry Cunningham, Gallatin County Commissioner Scott MacFarlane, and community planning specialist Randy Carpenter of Future West will present a "state of the city and county." The panel will provide insights, examples, and recommendations for how the City of Bozeman and Gallatin County currently work together to meet the needs of our rapidly growing community. Amongst our numerous international accolades, growing pains challenge our bustling community. The panel will address the ramifications of such rapid growth on water resources, infrastructure, housing, transportation, and open space. The need for ongoing regional cooperation, and examples of how local governments can coordinate, will also be discussed.

About the Speakers

Randy Carpenter

Community Planning Specialist, Future West

Terry Cunningham

Deputy Mayor, City of Bozeman

Scott MacFarlane

County Commissioner, Gallatin County

Natalie Meyer, the City of Bozeman's Sustainability Program Manager, and Taylor Lonsdale, the city's Transportation Engineer, present and discuss key components of the 2020 Bozeman Climate Plan. This Friday Forum is moderated by Duke Elliot who shares a sustainable architecture and energy efficiency perspective. Elliott is an instructor in MSU's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and School of Architecture, as well as a resource conservation specialist for University Services. Panelists share information and initiatives from the Climate Plan, including examples and actionable steps the city and citizens are and can take to curb human climate impacts.

About the Speaker

Natalie Meyer, the City of Bozeman's Sustainability Program Manager, and Taylor Lonsdale, the city's Transportation Engineer, will present and discuss key components of the 2020 Bozeman Climate Plan. This Friday Forum will be moderated by Duke Elliot, a resource conservation specialist with MSU Engineering and Utilities, who will share a sustainable architecture and energy efficiency perspective. Panelists will share information and initiatives from the Climate Plan, including examples and actionable steps the city and citizens are and can take to curb human climate impacts.

Taylor Lonsdale has been with the City of Bozeman as a transportation engineer since 2019. Before joining the city, he was a research engineer at the Western Transportation Institute from 2009 to 2019 where he worked on policies and programs that improve transportation choices for people in small urban and rural communities. From 2009 to 2013, he served as Montana's Safe Routes to Schools Coordinator providing statewide support for pedestrian and bicycle safety programs for students throughout Montana. He earned a bachelor's in civil engineering from the University of Vermont.

In this talk, Sara Rushing, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at MSU, explores the concepts of freedom and compliance in the context of health care and medicine. In mainstream American medicine, patient autonomy is a strong value, often described as a commitment to choice and control. In reality, our ability to will and direct our own treatment is often deeply constrained. When we extend beyond the context of illness and look at public health initiatives such as vaccination programs, our notions of freedom become even more complex. Rushing examines our interdependence with others and our reliance on expert knowledge to make decisions about our lives.

About the Speaker

Sara Rushing is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Montana State University who specializes in democratic and feminist political theory. She is particularly interested in the politics of the body and healthcare as an area of citizenship development.

In this talk, MSU alumna Kelly Lewis introduces participants to the stories of espionage's most eminent animals and the human masterminds behind them. For decades, furry, aquatic and flying animal spies have been employed in some of the world's wildest espionage initiatives, from undersea defense and surveillance to cipher smuggling and anti-drone reconnaissance.

This collaborative community event is presented by OLLI at MSU and the Belgrade Community Library and is free and open to the public thanks to a generous sponsorship by Kenyon Noble.

About the Speaker

MSU alumna Kelly Lewis is a former writing and literature instructor at Montana State University. She is currently living in New York City pursuing a master's degree in the Experimental Humanities Department at New York University. Her scholarly research focuses on espionage history and geopolitics in fiction and media, including the relationship the civilian public has with the world of the clandestine.

 

Mark Anderson, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, discusses the public health-related outcomes associated with legalized marijuana. Topics to be covered include teen marijuana use, the use of other substances such as alcohol and opioids, traffic fatalities and mental health.

About the Speaker

Mark Anderson is an applied microeconomist with research interests in health economics and economic history. His research has appeared in leading economics journals such as the "Journal of Political Economy," "American Economic Journal: Applied Economics" and "Review of Economics and Statistics," as well as leading medical and public health journals such as the "American Journal of Public Health," "American Journal of Preventative Medicine" and "JAMA Pediatrics." Anderson's work has been discussed in popular press outlets such as TIME, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, CNN, NBC, ABC and the BBC.

In addition to his work on marijuana legalization, Anderson is currently studying the effects of hospital desegregation during the Civil Rights era on the black-white infant mortality gap and the effectiveness of public health interventions at the turn of the 20th century.


The Bozeman City Commission has identified affordable housing as one of its strategic goals. Community organizations and private sector partners are making strides toward sustainable and innovative solutions. This Friday Forum will highlight a collaborative project to develop a sustainable and affordable housing project with related family services in Bozeman. Please join us to learn more about partnerships and innovative funding strategies used to help meet our growing community needs for affordable housing.
 
Unanimously approved by the Bozeman City Commission in August 2020, Arrowleaf Park provides one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments and townhomes for individuals and families, and Perennial Park provides a new senior community for people 55 years and older. Together, Arrowleaf Park and Perennial Park will provide over 200 new affordable apartment units that are conveniently located near shopping, restaurants and services. Arrowleaf Park and Perennial Park were spearheaded by the Human Resources Development Council District IX and Seattle-based developer GMD Development. Family Promise of Gallatin Valley, a Bozeman-based organization that provides services to the homeless, and Community Health Partners, a Bozeman-based clinic providing affordable health services, are also project partners. 
 
All apartments will be geared toward people making 60 percent or less of the area median income, with roughly one-third of the units being specifically for seniors. The development includes an on-site health care center and early childhood development center with the goal of providing much needed services to residents and other community members. 

About the Speaker

Panelists will include Steve Dymoke of GDM Development, Buck Taylor of Community Health Partners, Kevin Thane of Family Promise of Gallatin Valley and a representative from HRDC. The panel will be moderated by Terry Cunningham, deputy mayor of the City of Bozeman.


The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Montana State University collaborated with the Bozeman Public Library's One Book One Bozeman program to present a talk on "A History and Future of Native Sovereignty: Controversies and Perspectives."

Alex Harmon, an assistant professor of English and American Studies at Montana State University, explores issues of federal Indian law, including the policy of termination, the Native communities it has affected and the erosion of tribal sovereignty. She also addresses the current crisis surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Harmon offers perspectives on the "The Night Watchman," its National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich and Erdrich's place in contemporary American Literature. "The Night Watchman" is the 2021 One Book One Bozeman selection. Published in 2020, the novel is based on the extraordinary life of Erdrich's grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C.

Friday Forums are presented by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Montana State University, formerly MSU Wonderlust, in partnership with the Bozeman Public Library Foundation. These presentations and lively discussions on timely topics are free and open to the public.

About the Speaker

Harmon's scholarly and teaching interests include contemporary Native American literature and film, federal Indian law, and ethnic and critical race theory.

Montana Senator Jon Tester discusses some of the challenges for the 117th Congress in a time of social division and media mistrust, as well as opportunities to move America forward with respect and common purpose. He also talks about his recently published book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons on Winning Back Rural America, and shares his perspective on issues important to rural and working class Americans.

About the Speaker

Jon Tester is a third generation farmer from Big Sandy, Montana. He is a Democrat, serving his third term as a U.S. Senator from Montana.


On November 3, Republicans won election to every statewide office and increased their majorities in both houses of the Montana state legislature. Montana State Senator JP Pomnichowski (D-33), who has served in the legislature since 2007, will discuss the 2021 legislative agenda-setting priorities, addressing COVID 19 protocols, dealing with recently approved ballot measures, hammering out a budget, and more-along with providing an insider's insights about changes sure to come.

About the Speaker

JP Pomnichowski served in the Montana House of Representatives from 2007-2013. In 2014, she was elected to the Montana Senate where she currently serves as Democratic Party Whip. She lives in Bozeman.


Noted American journalist and author, Todd Wilkinson will kick off this fascinating amphibian presentation. Known foremost for his writing about the environment, his assignments take him around the world. Wilkinson's work has appeared widely in publications ranging from National Geographic to the Christian Science Monitor. With a personal and professional understanding of the role amphibians play in identifying the health of an environment, Wilkinson will provide a compelling introduction to this week's special Snowmester program.

Charles R. Peterson, professor of zoology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University, and Andrew Ray, an aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service, will present a special 'Snowmester' event on "Ecological Insights from 70 Years of Greater Yellowstone Amphibian Studies." They will discuss how partnerships between the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey and Idaho State University helped launch one of the longest-running amphibian monitoring programs in the U.S. Todd Wilkenson, a Bozeman-based journalist and author, will give the opening remarks.

The high elevation Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) is cool and relatively dry and is home to several species of amphibians such as the Western Tiger Salamander, Western (Boreal) Toad, Boreal Chorus Frog, Northern Leopard Frog, Columbia Spotted Frog and Plains Spadefoot. While amphibian species diversity in the GYA is not high, these species exhibit a fascinating range of adaptations to the varied climate, topography and water chemistry and help indicate the health of wetlands.

Peterson and Ray will discuss amphibian distributions, habitat associations, genetic connectivity of populations, as well as the major threats amphibians in the GYA and beyond such as climate change, habitat loss, disease and invasive species. Since the 1950s, herpetological studies in the GYA have ranged from broad surveys to intensive local investigations. Research has provided insight into the ecology and threats to amphibians in our region and has contributed to amphibian conservation in general.

Peterson and Ray will also discuss the expanding use of smartphones and citizen science apps, such as iNaturalist, that have enabled many people to easily contribute their amphibian observations to an online database, increasing our knowledge of amphibian distribution and activity in the GYA.

Please join us for this lecture on the GYA's amphibians-one of the region's most fascinating but poorly understood wildlife groups.

This event is presented in collaboration with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network - National Park Service, Idaho State University and the Bozeman Public Library.

About the Speaker

Charles R. Peterson is an award-winning professor of zoology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University and the Affiliate Curator of Herpetology for the Idaho Museum of Natural History. During sabbatical leaves in 1994-1995 and 2002-2003, he conducted research out of Montana State University, the University of Idaho, the USGS EROS Data Center and the Yellowstone Center for Resources. His research interests include the spatial, physiological and conservation ecology of amphibians and reptiles. Much of his work has focused on reptile populations on Idaho's Snake River Plain and on amphibian populations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He is currently working on citizen science projects utilizing the iNaturalist mobile application to document the distribution and activity of amphibians and reptiles in Idaho and the Greater Yellowstone Area. 

Andrew Ray is an aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service's Greater Yellowstone Network in Bozeman. He received his Ph.D. from Idaho State University and holds an M.S. from Northern Michigan University and B.S. from Purdue University. He conducts amphibian work in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Crater Lake National Parks. He also works on water quality studies in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP.

View the recording.


Fire is an important process that has shaped Western ecosystems for millennia. However, over the past several decades, fire activity has been increasing across the West. Recent fires have destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of lives have been lost and persistent smoke from these fires has created hazardous air quality across the West. Changing climatic conditions are enabling record-setting fire seasons throughout the western U.S. This creates sustained periods of hot, dry weather that are conducive to fire and warm conditions that are drying out fuels and creating explosive conditions when ignition occurs. At the same time, a growing number of homes and other structures are built in landscapes with abundant fuels, increasing the danger from fires to human health and safety.

About the Speaker

David McWethy, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Letters and Science at MSU

Introductory remarks by Cathy Whitlock, Regents Professor in Earth Sciences at MSU

Bill West, who recently retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after 30 years of managing National Wildlife Refuges in Montana, will discuss land conservation across a patchwork of land ownership in the Centennial Valley. Located in Southwest Montana, north of the Continental Divide, the remote Centennial Valley consists of a high-elevation and nearly intact landscape of forest, sagebrush steppe, wet meadow and the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The valley is the upper most point of the Missouri/Mississippi watershed (3,768 miles from the Gulf of Mexico) and includes the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. West will discuss how partnerships that respect the business climate of the local community while protecting public land can result in a thriving local economy as well as successful conservation efforts.

**This collaborative community event is free and open to the general public thanks to a Montana CARES Act Grant awarded to the Belgrade Community Library by Humanities Montana and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Speaker

Bill West managed national wildlife refuges in Montana for 30 years, including assignments at the National Bison Range and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. His skills include partnership building for the conservation of fish and wildlife, neighbor/landowner relationships, sustainable agriculture, negotiations with Native American Tribal governments, and the management of wild bison, trumpeter swan, grizzly bear and Arctic grayling. 

>Peter F. Kolb, forestry specialist at Montana State University Extension and an associate professor of forest ecology and management at the University of Montana, will discuss the unique ecology of forests in the Northern Rockies with specific reference to Montana forest ecosystems. The interaction of Montana mountain geography with Western U.S. weather patterns, and the history of both Indigenous cultures and European American settlers, makes them some of the most complex forest ecosystems in the world. Wildfires have played important role in the development of Montana forests. This program will put the many different perspectives on modern forest conservation and management into context with natural history, future projected climatic variability and the needs of Montana wildlife and human populations.

About the Speaker

Peter F. Kolb has been a forestry specialist at Montana State University Extension since 1997 and is an associate professor of forest ecology and management in the Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. He has conducted research on a variety of forest restoration practices, post wildfire recovery and the role of salvage and sanitation logging, forest debris treatments and impacts on site ecological processes, climate impacts on forest processes and disturbance, windbreak establishment and maintenance techniques, and private family forest ownership trends. In 2008, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Institute for Forests and Forest Management at the University of Weihenstephan in Bavaria, Germany.

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MSU Wonderlust, a lifelong learning organization, in partnership with the Bozeman Public Library Foundation,  hosted a panel discussion on "Keeping Our Community Safe: Perspectives on Policing in the Gallatin Valley." A panel of local law enforcement officials and civil liberties advocates addressed the increasing demand for a re-examination of the role of police in our society. National events have raised concerns about the militarization of police and police behavior, including racial profiling and the excessive use of force. The panel also discussed the appropriate community response to a range of issues such as civil protest, homelessness, domestic violence, mental health crisis and substance misuse. There was an opportunity for Q&A following the discussion. 

About the Panelists

Panelists included Brian Gootkin, Gallatin County Sheriff; Jim Veltkamp, Interim Police Chief, Bozeman Police Department; Judith Heilman, executive director, Montana Racial Equity Project; and SK Rossi, advocacy and policy director, American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. The discussion was be moderated by Cody Warner, associate professor of sociology, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Montana State University.

Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine Leviyah Kern discusses Ayurveda, a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. She describes the ancient traditions of Indian medicine, how the Wise Ones (Rishis) viewed the world through the five elements of life, how this medicine came to the far reaches of the world through travel and trade, and how Ayurveda is finding new life as scientific study delves into the efficacy of customized medicine. 

About the Speaker

Leviyah Kern has been practicing medicine since 2008. She enrolled with the California College of Ayurveda in 2015 and graduated in spring 2020 as a Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine. She is committed to restoring optimal health for every person and body through energy integration, lifestyle alignment and nutritional wisdom. During a year-long stay with her Polish grand parents, she fell in love with the elder years and decided to specialize in elder care.

Betsy Gaines Quammen, a Bozeman-based environmental historian, writer and conservationist,  discusses her new book, “American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West.” The book explores the 27-year legal battle and land-use war, launched from Bunkerville, Nevada, between Cliven Bundy and his large family and local, state and federal governments. She also discusses research for the book and ongoing conspiracy theories, as well as comparisons to the current unrest between the government and the American public.

In “American Zion,” Quammen argues that the Bundys are engaged in open conflict with the U.S. government, a conflict traceable back to that time when adherents of the Church of Latter-day Saints came west, bringing militant beliefs, some legitimate grievances and their certainty of claiming a God-promised homeland they call Zion. She describes the book as a journey through the New West, one still haunted by nineteenth century white settlement, violence and an enduring sense of entitlement.

Audience members are encouraged to read “American Zion” but it is not necessary for engaging in this highly topical and pertinent conversation on the legacy of Native people, public lands, government control and ongoing lawlessness based on religious zealotry.

About the Speaker

As an environmental historian, writer and conservationist, Betsy Gaines Quammen has studied various religious traditions over the years and is fascinated at how religious and cultural views shape relationships to landscape and wildlife. The rural American West, pastoral communities of northern Mongolia and the grasslands of East Africa have been her main areas of interest.

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Rob Maher, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University, will present "Stop! What’s that sound? Audio Forensics in 2020." 

Many law enforcement officers routinely carry recording equipment while working, including body cameras, memo recorders and dashboard systems in police cruisers. Emergency 9-1-1 call centers have audio recording systems, as do many police dispatching radio systems. Increasingly, audio evidence may include mobile phone recordings made by civilian bystanders or recordings from security surveillance systems in private homes and businesses.

Maher will describe the methods used to assess the authenticity of forensic audio recordings and the techniques applied in several case studies involving audio forensic interpretation and research. For example, can we use audio from a mobile phone video to identify someone making threats of violence? Is the subtle creak heard on an airplane’s cockpit voice recorder a telltale sign of a malfunction in the plane’s airframe resulting in a commercial airline accident? Was a gunshot heard near the boundary of Yellowstone National Park made by a poacher who encroached in the park or by a legal hunter in the forest outside the park?

About the Speaker

Rob Maher’s research and teaching interests are in the area of digital audio signal processing, audio forensic analysis, digital music synthesis and acoustics. He occasionally serves as an expert witness in criminal and civil court cases, and he is the author of the book “Principles of Forensic Audio Analysis” (Springer, 2018).

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Maggie Greene, an assistant professor of Chinese and East Asian cultural history in the Department of History and Philosophy at Montana State University, will present "Sino-U.S. Relations in the Time of COVID-19."

Greene will discuss the emergence of the virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in early 2020 and the current global situation, as well as the social and political response to the pandemic around the world.

About the Speaker

Maggie Greene is the author of “Resisting Spirits: Drama Reform and Cultural Transformation in the People’s Republic of China” which was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2019. In addition to her work on theatre and literature, she has published on subjects as varied as high altitude mountaineering to the game of mahjong in modern China. She teaches courses such as “Modern China,” “Science and Medicine in China” and “Modern Asia” for the Department of History and Philosophy.

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Crystal Alegria, director of The Extreme History Project, will lead the discussion, "One Way History: Bozeman’s Historic East Mendenhall Street." The Extreme History Project is a nonprofit that brings local history to the public in fun, engaging and relevant ways.

Alegria will discuss the history of East Mendenhall by traveling virtually down the one-way street. Participants will learn about Bozeman’s red-light district, East Side School – now Hawthorne Elementary – and notable residents such as the Frazier family, Madam Libbie Hayes and Fannie Woodson. Alegria will illustrate the presentation with photos, maps and oral history accounts.

About the Speaker

Alegria has worked in public history and archeology education for the last 20 years at museums and heritage organizations. She co-founded The Extreme History Project in 2012 with colleague Marsha Fulton and has helped build the organization into an award-winning nonprofit that engages the public in history through walking tours, lectures, workshops, oral histories, preservation projects and more. Alegria serves on Bozeman’s Historic Preservation Advisory Board and is a founding member of the Bozeman Historic Preservation Advisory Group.

An MSU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and master’s in history, Alegria has written numerous articles and blogs on topics relating to Montana history. In 2018 she was named an “Extraordinary Ordinary Woman of Montana State University” by the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women.

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Geise will discuss the history, current status and probable future of nuclear-powered electrical generating stations. In 1954 Lewis Strauss, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, predicted that electricity generated by nuclear power would quickly become so economical that “it would be too cheap to measure.” From 1955 to 1985, hundreds of nuclear-powered generating stations were built all over the world. However, Geise argues that democratic societies are now facing the beginning of the end of nuclear power generating stations. At the same time, Russia and China are becoming major suppliers of nuclear-powered generating stations for those countries that still have an interest in building and operating their own.

About the Speaker

Gerald Geise, an MSU alumnus in chemical engineering with more than 30 years of experience in the nuclear industry. Among his many occupations and accolades, Geise held key engineering and management positions at the Hanford Atomic Products Operation in Richland, Washington, including serving as operations manager in charge of the world’s largest dual-purpose plutonium and electrical nuclear generating station. He trained naval personnel in the operation of nuclear submarines at General Electric in Idaho Falls, Idaho and served as president of a division of United Nuclear Corporation in Connecticut that made nuclear reactors for the U.S. Navy.

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Sharon Eversman will provide an overview of the Beartooth Highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road. The 68-mile byway winds its way through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming and leads into Yellowstone National Park at its Northeast Entrance. The highway features numerous switchbacks and rises in elevation from 5,600 feet in Red Lodge to over 10,000 feet at the top of the Beartooth Pass. Eversman argues that the highway traverses one of the best examples of alpine environment in the country. During the last Ice Age, glaciers sculpted spectacular features, including U-shaped valleys, cirques, matterhorns and glacial lakes. The wind and flat topography on the plateau have resulted in trees and plants that exhibit unique timberline features and beautiful alpine meadows.

About the Speaker

Sharon Eversman earned advanced degrees in biology and plant ecology. She taught biology and botany at MSU for 40 years, including a summer field course on the Beartooth Plateau. She has lived in Bozeman for over 50 years, spending much time studying and collecting plants and lichens in national parks, state parks, national forests and eastern Montana. When not poking around outside, she is a docent at the Museum of the Rockies and a violinist with the Bozeman Symphony.

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According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Smart Grid refers to digital technology that combines sensing throughout the electricity transmission system with two-way communication between electric power utilities and electricity consumers. This technology is expected to revolutionize the way utilities manage their power generation and distribution, as well as their interaction with their customers. Smart Grid will allow consumers to monitor their home electricity usage and manage consumption based on factors such as the current price of electricity. The DOE is providing significant funds in the form of grants to universities and electric power utilities to find ways to make Smart Grid a reality without interruption to the delivery of electricity. This Webex presentation will describe the evolution of electric power generation and delivery during the past century and the impetus for development of Smart Grid technology. The speaker will also discuss the technology components required to achieve Smart Grid functions and how Smart Grid features can improve grid resiliency and benefit consumers.

About the Speaker

Hashem Nehrir, research professor and professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Montana State University, has been involved in university teaching and research since 1971. He joined the faculty of MSU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in 1987 and retired in 2018. Nehrir is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and was the recipient of the organization’s Power and Energy Society Ramakumar Family Renewable Energy Excellence Award in 2016. He served as the editor of IEEE’s journal, “Transactions on Sustainable Energy,” since its inception in 2010 through 2015 and has continued as consulting editor for the journal since 2016. In 2010, he received MSU’s Nora L. Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research. He has lectured on his research and educational activities in more than ten countries around the globe.

Doug Young, Professor Emeritus (Economics), Montana State University will discuss changes in the Montana Economy and Taxation over the last 70 years, including the growing importance of capital income and transfer payments, whether agriculture and mining still play important roles, which industries are the largest employers in Montana, and the impact of the emerging high-tech sector. He will also discuss taxation policy in Montana, including resort and local option taxes. Young will address these issues in a fact-based comparison of Montana’s taxes with those in neighboring states and national averages.

About the Speaker

Doug Young is professor emeritus of economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the College of Agriculture, Montana State University. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and began as an Assistant Professor of Economics at MSU in 1977. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, Carnegie Mellon University and universities in Botswana, Morocco, Egypt, China and India. Doug retired from MSU in 2010 and returned to work part time, including research on "Montana's Aging Population" and "Poverty in Montana." Last year he served as President of Friends of MSU Wonderlust and Chair of the MSU Wonderlust Council.