This video really struck a chord with me. It was created by a young woman named Starr Brainard, who grew up in St. Paul and is now a student at American University. Her family has vacationed in the Beartooth area throughout her life.
What struck me about it is that Starr’s story is my family’s story. My wife’s family is from the Twin Cities, and every summer her parents would drive her and her three sisters out to the Gallatin Canyon for an extended period.
Forty years ago they found a place on the Stillwater River at Beehive, and eventually retired there. My wife and I would make pilgrimages here with our three boys, and her sisters would come with their families too.
The grandchildren all fell in love with a land that was so different from the cities in which they grew up. They learned what it means to love the land, to use it responsibly, to enjoy its beauty every day we were here.
Today the 13 grandchildren are spread to the winds, in New York City, Washington DC, Nashville, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Denver, Boulder, Eugene, and Santa Barbara. Our place on the Stillwater is hopping from the time the snow melts to the day we close it down in the winter, as they come back to fish, backpack, and enjoy the solitude as the Stillwater goes roaring by.
Starr’s video makes me wonder whether this will be the same place in a generation that it is today. When she brings her kids back, after the drillers have found what they wanted, will there be drinkable water, will the land be scarred beyond recognition, will the beautiful little towns that supply us still exist?
Ultimately the video strengthens my resolve to keep this place from being overrun in the same way that Pavilion, Wyoming and Williston, North Dakota have.
Thanks Starr, and everyone else who is determined to preserve this place for future generations.