All that snow, and now it’s ready to go

Billings Gazette story only tells about Montana, but there is more-

What a winter!  I should say “what a spring.” There wasn’t much of it. April and May just kept adding to the mountain snowpack. The article below tells about Montana, but Idaho, western Wyoming and Utah are not much different.

All that snow, and now it’s ready to go. By Lorna Thackeray of  the Billings Gazette Staff.

I took my rig and and spent 2 days looking at some low elevation semi-arid country. . . it sure looks green and flowery.  The high peaks are gleaming white, although I think our local river, the Portneuf, has escaped more than  a slight flood.

Green foothills. Snowy heights. East side of the Portneuf Mountains near Bancroft, Idaho. Copyright Ralph Maughan. June 5, 2011

Meanwhile in Arizona. Arizona forest fire expands to 193,000 acres. AP. When we were down there in March-April it was dry. Worse, much of the area has been taken over by buffle grass, a fire-promoting grass from South Africa. Other foreign grasses proliferate too. They were brought in for you guessed it, the cows.





  1. CodyCoyote Avatar

    I’m suggesting a new term for the physical science lexicon here : Geo-flush. It’s when the entire late Spring snowpack runs off in one momentous event.

    Drove out of Cody before dawn yesterday ( Sunday June 5) up through Sunlight Basin and Crandall to Cooke City MT and the Beartooth Mountains. The amount of snow lingering in the Absarokas and Beartooths is astounding…April snowpack in June… but more incredible is that it hasn’t begun to run off. The streams and rivers were still surprisingly low.

    Satellite photos and the SNO-TEL readings say it’s mountains of water.

  2. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

    The Columbia River is looks quite full already. This could be worrisome.

  3. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    I was hiking up the Snoqualmie-Middle Fork a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t believe the paths carved recently by runoff streams. Hundred year old trees thrown around like kindling, large boulder fields, and silt deposits spread out on either side by 50 yards or more. It looked like someone was interested in it all because there were quite a few markers set out in a couple of the stream beds.

    I’m guessing there will be a lot more of that going on in some areas between now and July. We just cracked the 70 degree mark for the first time in any kind of meaningful way last weekend over in western Washington.

  4. Nancy Avatar

    Cracked the 75 degree mark here in Western Montana yesterday Daniel and its hovering around 70 degrees today with a nice breeze, clouds moving in. The creek over on the meadow is out of its banks. Still a lot of snow to come down in the moountains.

    Got both my vegetable gardens planted today. Looking forward to some fresh salad greens – spinach, lettuce etc. (about the only thing that seems to do well with our short growing season) in about a month or so.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg


      Your comment just reminded me that I need to pick up some squirrel-proof material to put up around my small garden.

      It’s good to hear that things are warming up a little over in MT. I’m going to head out there for a few days sometime soon to check out a couple of areas in the Northwest part of the state.

  5. Nancy Avatar

    Daniel – if you can find the plastic deer netting (comes in a roll, tiny holes) it not only kept the ground squirrels from coming in to the garden, the netting also kept the mice out and its way cheaper than hardwire!
    I also lined the bottom of my garden plot with 1 inch chicken wire before putting in some good topsoil because the ground squirrels LOVE to burrow under and up!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan