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The Magazine of The University of Montana



The Montanan welcomes letters to the editor. Please sign and include your graduating year or years of attendance, home address, and phone number or e-mail address.

Send them to: Montanan Editor,
325 Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812

Because of space limitations, we are not able to include all letters sent to us. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. While universities are places of discussion where good people do not always agree, letters deemed potentially libelous or that malign a person or group will not be published. Opinions expressed in the Montanan do not necessarily reflect those of The University of Montana.

Booming Success


A truck passes an oil rig near Sidney.

I want to compliment you on the publication of the spring 2012 issue of the Montanan, especially the story “The Bakken Boom” by Ed Kemmick and David Grubbs. This article is, by far, the best and most comprehensive discussion of this subject I have seen to date.

I have a special interest in this subject due to being the executor of my grandmother’s estate. She and my grandfather were homesteaders in Divide County, N.D., in the early 1900s, receiving the deed to their land in 1914.

While the homestead surface land was sold decades ago, my grandmother retained ownership of a portion of the mineral rights associated with this land. I hadn’t realized that surface ownership of land can be separated from ownership of the minerals (including oil and gas) under the surface of the land. Royalties are paid to mineral owners, not surface owners.

There is an oil/gas well associated with our family’s mineral rights inherited from our grandmother. As these rights have passed down the family tree for several generations, the individual value is modest. Nonetheless, it is still an interesting adventure.

Your article mentioned Sunburst Consulting. This sounded familiar, so I took a look at the log associated with our well and found the geologists’ report. Indeed, it was done by Sunburst Consulting, and the field geologists on that well were three women, one of whom I am informed is a UM geology graduate, along with eighteen other UM geologists working for Sunburst Consulting. They advise me that they could use some more geologists.

Again, thank you for this excellent article.

Don Mullen, M.A. ’70
Corvallis, Mont.

A Mystifying Choice

Although I greatly enjoy the Montanan, I was disheartened by the story of “modern-day hunter-gatherer” Steven Rinella [“Call of the Wild,” spring 2012]. Some of us who were born and raised in Montana, and who love the state’s natural beauty and its people dearly, remain mystified by choices like his. How can “adventures” bringing terror, pain, and death to sentient animals be regarded as a choice of livelihood on a par with writing or lawn-mowing? Why is it that finding a bison skull inspires some to dream of photography or study that is harmless to the wildlife involved, and others to aspirations of killing and consumption?

Hunting for meat is certainly more humane and ecologically sound than buying it from factory farms; but that observation is transcended by the truth that those of us in developed nations don’t need meat to enjoy a healthful and tasty diet, and are usually better off without it.

Many will certainly disagree with my perspective, but wouldn’t it be healthy to include more (some!) ethical reflection with boosterish stories like this one?

Kathie Jenni ’76
Professor of philosophy and director of human-animal studies, University of Redlands, Redlands, Calif.

Bittersweet Symphony

An article in the winter 2012 Montanan about the Chickadee Symphony led to a phone call to Erick Greene, who graciously (and promptly) copied and sent me the music CD and the symphony notes, which became a super-unique gift for a birding friend. And that led to the purchase of Kate Davis’ lovely book, Raptors of the West, which was reviewed in the same issue. I love how the sweet chickadee opened so many doors!

I care nothing of UM athletics; this beautiful path of nature and sharing is what makes me proud of UM.

On a grimmer note, I was not pleased with the Montanan’s gush about the Bakken boom and fracking [spring 2012]. What happened to UM’s role as an environmental/tech leader? The rush to riches makes me nervous.

Shelley Dumas ’70
Grangeville, Idaho

The Montanan would like to thank the following people for recently donating to the magazine: Thomas Zakos, Charles Branch, Sally Turner, Alvin Ludwig, Delores Benner, Dale and Joann Stanhope, Jill Munson, Joseph Murphy, and Kathy Chambers.