Champs & Chumps – Fall 2008

Champs & Chumps – Fall 2008

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Every day, one stalwart citizen does the right thing while another acts like a blithering bonehead. Here's a recap of admirable acts and embarrassing blunders for the the past season.

The Joe Brooks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, based in Livingston, for persuading the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to implement riparian-zone buffers on oil and gas leases on the Yellowstone and Boulder rivers. At TU members’ urging, the DNRC approved quarter-mile setbacks on over half the leases, thus protecting miles of pristine water from potential contamination.

Local theatre group Montana TheatreWorks, for restoring the Ellen Theater in downtown Bozeman. This historic downtown icon, established in 1919, had suffered decades of neglect and was in pretty bad shape when MTW took it over. After much hard work and many generous contributions, the Ellen has been renovated and is ready to resume its rightful place as a cultural centerpiece of Bozeman.

Top champ: Outdoor athlete extraordinaire Liz Ann Kudrna, whose determination, positive attitude, sense of humor, and indomitable spirit are an inspiration to all those around her. Last August, Liz Ann suffered a tragic fall on Mount Cowen that severed her spinal cord. Instead of indulging self-pity and despair, Liz Ann has shown a level of grace and toughness that few of us can even imagine. Bravo, Liz Ann. Our prayers and blessings are with you.

Real estate agent Sally Uhlman, for erecting the monstrous eyesore on Sourdough Road near the Triple Tree trailhead. What, her previous 7,700-square-foot, $3.5-million house-on-a-hill wasn’t big, expensive, and ostentatious enough? On her website (, Sally revels in our town’s “community values” and “laid-back lifestyle,” even going so far as to call herself a Bozemanite. Um, which Bozeman do you live in, Sally? I think Aspenite is the word you’re looking for.

Developer Mike Delaney, for draining the wild-life rich wetlands behind his Village Downtown development. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Delaney claimed the draining was necessary to avert a potential threat to the adjoining railroad tracks. Hmm, doesn’t Montana Rail Link have its own rail inspectors? Wouldn’t they be just a bit more qualified to assess the danger to their lines? Can you say “smokescreen?”

And our #1 chump is KG Ranch manager Greg Strohecker, for blowing up the cliffs on the Jefferson River near Willow Creek. The 65-foot limestone face was an incredible natural landmark, a streamside treasure dear to the hearts of innumerable Bozeman-area fishermen, floaters, and cliff-jumpers. It wasn't a liability issue—Montana law clearly states that landowners aren't responsible for injuries to people recreating on their property—so what possessed Strohecker to so crudely deface Montana's natural beauty? "Things change," he says. "We needed the rock."

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