Black bear in a huckleberry bush

Obsessed with its huckleberry patch, this black bear never stopped eating as a line of equally oblivious hikers passed on Glacier Park’s Loop Trail below Granite Park Chalet in 2015.

Huckleberries tucked into three welcome baskets for the third annual “Welcoming Week” that provides as a chance for Missoulians new and old to get to know one another a little better. Soft Landing Missoula has worked closely with the International Rescue Committee to help more than 300 refugees build new lives in the Garden City over the past three years, and “Welcoming Week” events consequently reflect a growing variety of cultures. This year, a Middle Eastern dessert sale and Venezuelan dance lessons were added to the lineup, while keeping such favorites from previous years as the soccer match and Eritrean coffee ceremony. The week kicked off last Friday, Sept. 13 but continues through this weekend, capping off with a rally in Caras Park on Sunday. Visit Soft Landing Missoula’s website for more details and a full schedule.

Pitted chokecherries to the new holes in Maclay Bridge, a historic structure spanning the Bitterroot River west of Missoula that is in need of rehabilitation or replacement, but which remains at the center of a decades-long dispute between folks who want to save the one-lane bridge and those who want to build a new bridge extending along South Avenue. A few weeks ago, a local resident reported that the asphalt on the bridge had broken and left holes about 5- to 6-inches wide, through which the river below could be seen. The underlying steel structure was not damaged, however, and officials determined the bridge could remain open to vehicle traffic until repairs could be completed.

How about sharing another huckleberry-filled welcome basket between the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and the Zootown Arts Community Center, two arts-focused nonprofits that will be sharing space in the Studebaker Building downtown. The 17,000-square-foot building offers plenty of space for both organizations’ offices, classes and creative space, while expanding the types of community arts programs available under one roof.

Locally gathered chokecherries to Ammon Bundy’s and the “Three Percenters’” involvement in a dispute involving Ravalli County residents on Hughes Creek Road. The county contends that a gate has wrongly blocked access to public land for more than 40 years. Some landowners, on the other hand, say that historical evidence directs the county to abandon its claim to the road, and would like the commissioners to allow another hearing. In any case, the situation is not helped by courting the support of militia groups and controversial figures best known for leading armed standoffs. Already, Bundy has made a number of provocative and unfounded claims in a lengthy blog post, targeting one Ravalli County commissioner in particular. And a member of The Real Three Percent of Idaho posted a video on YouTube titled “Stand off brewing in Montana?” after he was invited to visit by one of the Hughes Creek property owners.

Huckleberries and applesauce to those wonderful volunteers who step up to help glean apples, apricots and other bear-attracting fruit from trees all around Missoula. The Great Bear Foundation has long organized crews of volunteers to help remove the fruit from dozens of properties, thus removing one of the big draws for bears in the fall — and helping to keep both humans and bears safe.

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