More than 100 Earth First! members wrapped up their Round River Rendezvous this week without incident at their Granite Creek campsite, although some of them went on to Helena to occupy Gov. Brian Schweitzer's office on Tuesday.
"They've been up there about a week camped out," Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig said. "They've been very cooperative, and they've done a great job protecting the meadow up there."
The annual rendezvous took place on a spur of the Fish Creek drainage west of Lolo Hot Springs, on former Plum Creek Timber Co. land the Forest Service acquired via the Montana Legacy Project. While Hartwig said Forest Service rangers estimated the crowd at about 120 during the high point of the six-day gathering, participants put the figure closer to 250.
"There's only three or four up there now," participant Max Granger said on Tuesday. "But there will be more coming back later in the week to finish cleaning the place up."
Missoula County sheriff's detective Jason Johnson said a deputy issued a traffic warning to some of the Earth First! caravan as it headed east to Helena, but had no other altercations with the group.
"It's been for us a very peaceful experience," Johnson said. "Quite a few people left on Sunday. Unless they cause trespassing issues, we're really staying out of it."
Hartwig said the group applied for and got a special-use permit for its campsite, and used old skid trails and other already disturbed areas for its tents, cooking area and latrines. A big meadow in the area was roped off to avoid heavy use, he said.
The group had warned of possible "direct action" against Imperial Oil Co.'s plan to use Highway 12 to transport huge oil-sands refining modules to Canada. In response, Imperial placed extra security around its test module, currently parked at the Lolo Hot Springs parking area. But Imperial spokesman Pius Rolheiser said no incidents occurred.