Huckleberries: Missoula hosts downtown conference. Chokecherries: Hungry bears lured into neighborhoods

Streets paved with huckleberries for the visitors in Missoula this week for the 2019 Montana Downtown and Main Street Conference. The conference brings civic leaders from small towns and big cities alike to learn more about tourism and economics, historic preservation and redevelopment, planning and forming partnerships. It’s also an opportunity for them to trade ideas and study what’s worked in Missoula, courtesy of the Downtown Missoula Partnership and Destination Missoula, which are hosting this year’s conference titled “Seen and Unseen: Community Vision & Resources.”

Chokecherries located far outside city limits to lure hungry bears far away from Missoula neighborhoods, where they are too often drawn by unsecured garbage bins and tempting fruit trees. A black bear was euthanized just recently after it became too habituated to human-provided handouts in the neighborhoods around Greenough Park. Meanwhile, another three bears were relocated from the Rattlesnake after at least one of them tried to break into a home. This time of year, people can help protect themselves and bears by picking any fruit from their trees, and making sure to store all food and waste in bear-proof containers.

Certified huckleberries to the Stockman Bank building in downtown Missoula for obtaining a rare award for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. The six-story building, complete with rooftop garden and rainwater capture system, was designed by CTA Architects Engineers and is now one of only five in the world to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) V4 Core and Shell Platinum certification.

Shields of chokecherries to the new report from the Government Accountability Office that counted at least 360 assaults or threats against federal employees tasked with caring for public lands. During the five-year period between 2013 and 2018, public workers at the four agencies included in the report — Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service — have experienced threatening phone calls, graffiti on their homes, gunshots fired over their heads and, in one particularly troubling case, the stabbing of a BLM employee outside a federal building. Meanwhile, the number of law enforcement officers patrolling public lands has decreased by anywhere from 7% to 22% depending on the agency.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy and its supporters deserve mountain peaks topped with huckleberries for their planned $2.5 million gift to Glacier National Park. The money raised by the private nonprofit fundraising arm of the park — at least $1.7 million so far toward its record-breaking goal of $2.5 million — will support 75 different education, research and preservation projects at the park.

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