Waterton National Park 2009

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Waterton National Park 2009
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Waterton is one of my favourite places in the world. Tucked in the Rocky Mountains in the SW corner of Alberta, Canada, it lies on the BC and Washington State border. Prairie grasses sweep up into the jagged mountains inside and outside the park. I particularly like hanging out at the townsite. It is quiet, mostly undiscovered, nearly void of chain stores or restaurants — there are no fences but lots of deer. The lakes are cold and deep, the people friendly and unhurried. Mostly, there is a zen about the place — one of peace and tranquility. I can’t wait to go back.

Here’s what the internet says….

Rugged, windswept mountains rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland in spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife. The park helps protect the unique and unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources found in the Crown of the Continent: one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountains. The highlight of Waterton’s sparkling chain of lakes is the international Upper Waterton Lake, the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies. In 1932, the park was joined with Montana’s Glacier National Park to form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park – a world first.

www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/Waterton/index_e.asp

In 1895, a 140 sq. km (54 sq. miles) area was protected through an Order in Council of the federal government. After a variety of status and name changes, it became what it is now known as Waterton Lakes National Park.
Waterton was Canada’s 4th national park, the smallest in the Canadian Rockies. Its size has varied considerably over the years but its area is now 505 sq. km (195 sq. miles).
The first major step toward preservation of Waterton was taken by a Pincher Creek rancher, F.W. Godsal, who sent a proposal to Ottawa in 1893 recommending that the Waterton Lakes area be set aside as a national park.
The park’s name derives from the Waterton Lakes. This chain of lakes, named by Lieutenant Blakiston (a member of the Palliser Expedition), honours a British naturalist, Squire Charles Waterton (1782-1865).
As part of a Canada-wide system of national parks, Waterton Lakes National Park represents the southern Rocky Mountains Natural Region – where some of the most ancient mountains in the Rockies abruptly meet the prairie. It is a landscape shaped by wind, fire, and flooding; with a rich variety of plants and wildlife.
The park is part of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem; a place with unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources. This ecosystem is one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountain chain. This means Waterton and its surrounding region sits on a key pinch point of a crucial north-south Rocky Mountain wildlife corridor.
Several different ecological regions meet in Waterton – with prairie plants of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain plants from northern areas, and coastal plants from the Pacific Northwest all overlapping. The park contains 45 different habitat types, including grasslands, shrublands, wetlands, lakes, spruce-fir, pine and aspen forests, and alpine areas. This means Waterton has an unusually rich and varied number of plants for its size, with more than 1000 vascular plant species, 182 bryophytes and 218 lichen species. Many of these are rare or threatened. More than half of Alberta’s plant species can be found in Waterton.
The park’s variety of vegetation communities provides homes for many animals, including more than 60 species of mammals, over 250 species of birds, 24 species of fish, and 10 reptiles and amphibians. Large predators include wolf, coyote, cougar, grizzly bear, and American black bear. The grasslands are important winter range for ungulates such as elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. In the fall, the marsh and lake areas of the park are used extensively by migrating ducks, swans, and geese. Some animals found here are considered rare or unusual eg. trumpeter swans, Vaux’s swifts, and vagrant shrews.
Waterton Lakes National Park also has global importance because of several key international designations:
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (1932) – The Peace Park was originally created as a symbol of peace and goodwill between the United States and Canada, but has now evolved to also represent cooperation in a world of shared resources. Both parks strive to protect the ecosystem through shared management, not only between themselves, but also with their other neighbours.
On December 6, 1995 UNESCO designated the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park as a World Heritage Site because it has a distinctive climate, physiographic setting, mountain-prairie interface, and tri-ocean hydrographical divide. It is an area of significant scenic values with abundant and diverse flora and fauna.

Criteria (revised in 2006)

(vii) Both national parks were originally designated by their respective nations because of their superlative mountain scenery, their high topographic relief, glacial landforms, and abundant diversity of wildlife and wildflowers.

(ix) The property occupies a pivotal position in the Western Cordillera of North America resulting in the evolution of plant communities and ecological complexes that occur nowhere else in the world. Maritime weather systems unimpeded by mountain ranges to the north and south allow plants and animals characteristic of the Pacific Northwest to extend to and across the continental divide in the park. To the east, prairie communities nestle against the mountains with no intervening foothills, producing an interface of prairie, montane and alpine communities. The international peace park includes the headwaters of three major watersheds draining through significantly different biomes to different oceans. The biogeographical significance of this tri-ocean divide is increased by the many vegetated connections between the headwaters. The net effect is to create a unique assemblage and high diversity of flora and fauna concentrated in a small area.
Waterton Biosphere Reserve (1979) – As Canada’s second biosphere reserve, Waterton was the first Canadian national park to take part in this UNESCO program. Biosphere Reserves are created to achieve a better understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural environment by integrating knowledge and experience from both natural and social sciences. Major goals are to support information exchange, research, education, training and improved land management; largely through cooperation and shared projects with local private landowners and government agencies.
The park has two national historic sites located within its boundaries. These are the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site (1995) and the Lineham Discovery Well National Historic Site (the site of western Canada’s first producing oil well) (1968).
Waterton is located in the southwest corner of Alberta. It is bordered…
on the west by the province of British Columbia (Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park and Flathead Provincial Forest);
on the south by Glacier National Park, Montana;
on the north and east by the Bow-Crow Forest, and private lands in the Municipal Districts of Cardston and Pincher Creek;
and includes a large timber reserve belonging to the Kainaiwa (Blood Tribe.)
The townsite sits at 1280 m (4200 ft) above sea level and the park’s highest peak, Mt. Blakiston, is 2940 m (9645 ft) above sea level or approximately 1,490 m (4900 ft) tall.
The park is open year round although most facilities are closed in winter. Annual visitation is approximately 425,000. The year round residential population of about 100 people increases in the summer to about 2,000.
UNIQUE NATURAL FEATURES OF WATERTON
Some of the oldest, exposed sedimentary rock in the Canadian Rockies the Lewis thrust fault has exposed 1,500 million-year-old sedimentary rock.
Argillite the vivid colours of green and red layers of sedimentary rock are a result of oxidized and unoxidized iron in the rock. Both rock types, called argillite, derived from iron rich muds laid down on the bottom of an ancient sea.
Climate Waterton receives Alberta’s highest average annual precipitation levels (1,072 mm) It is also one of Alberta’s windiest places. Winter winds over 100 km/hr are common. Waterton has many chinooks, which contribute to it being one of Alberta’s warmest areas in winter (about 28 winter days with temperatures of 2.5 C and above). These winds can cause temperatures to rise dramatically over short periods of time.
Foothills fescue prairie this grassland region stretches along the plains and foothills from southern Alberta into Montana. Waterton Lakes is the only Canadian national park that preserves foothills fescue grasslands.
Rare Vegetation Of 45 vegetation types identified in Waterton’s recent Ecological Land Classification, 16 are considered significant because they are rare (small area in the park) or fragile and threatened. Notable are two grassland types and two types of aspen forest. These are threatened by non-native plant invasion, disturbance and heavy grazing pressure.
Rare Plants Amongst Waterton’s more than 1000 species of vascular plants, 179 species are rare in Alberta. Twenty-two of these plants are not found anywhere else in Alberta.
Moonwort Hot Spot Waterton has globally significant genetic diversity, best symbolized by its amazing variety of small ferns called moonworts. Waterton has 8 different moonworts. The Waterton moonwort (Botrychium x watertonense) is only found here and is considered the rarest plant in the park.
Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) Tall beargrass flowers and their tufts of grassy leaves are Waterton’s showiest plant. Waterton Lakes is the only Canadian national park that protects this lily. It is the unofficial emblem of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Plains-dwelling Grizzly Bears Waterton is one of the last places in North America where grizzlies commonly range into the edges of its former grassland range.
www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/Waterton/intro_e.asp

# weather app #
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So windy here !! Might be why my internet connection keeps failing:( will catch up when the weather improves :))
Thursday is looking brighter ♡♡

A Tangled Web
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The thing about The Mole was that he knew all of the players.

He knew everyone in the department.

Shit… he even knew the people they knew.

The Mole knew their wives, their girlfreinds, their mistresses, their enemies, their kids… he went to their weddings, their kids communions and their funerals… he gave them advice when they found themselves all jammed up.

The Mole used to be ‘family.’

He knew who owed who a favor too.

And why.

The Mole rose through the ranks and was being groomed for the Chief’s position until he got screwed because of politics and he was forced to retire.

He blamed it all on ‘The Old Man.’

And he genuinely felt wronged.

The Mole was pretty bitter about it even after all these years.

He felt used and let’s face it… no one likes to feel used.

That kinda goes without saying but that feeling was really the core of his motivation here.

About half of the department hated the guy and the other half loved him.

The guy was ‘politics’ personified.

He had connections everywhere though.

Solid connections.

Even on other departments.

The Mole knew who could be trusted and who could not.

And if he didn’t, The Mole knew who to call to find out.

If he said a guy was good… the guy was good.

He never seemed to be wrong.

Not once.

If he told me to ‘watch out for that guy’ you can bet I’d be careful with that one.

He was right on that note more than a few times and his advice definitely saved me from some grief.

The thing was… like me… The Mole had a score to settle too.

He was ‘the enemy of my enemy’ and that’s what made everything fall into place.

‘What they did to you and your family was wrong’ he said… ‘these people got no sense of decency… all you asked ’em to do was the right thing and they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it… my heart goes out to you."

Then he’d tell me all about what they did to him.

We had a common enemy in the ‘regime.’

And it would bring us both untold amounts of joy and satisfaction to see that regime fall.

It would also bring us a lot of hurt before it was over.

The Mole told me about Skeevy… the former Chief who now worked for another department… he was still pretty much running Deadwood… because Deadwood’s chief was an idiot.

Skeevy was the guy that got the idiot the job.

And he did it to maintain some power within the regime… the new chief was his ‘made man.’

He was his ‘representative’ on the inside now that he was out.

Skeevy had interests to protect and secrets to keep.

And the new chief ‘Hot Dog’ owed him everything.

Chief Hot Dog would fall too before it was all over.

The Mole was always there for Skeevy when they worked together… but Skeevy threw the Mole to the jackals after he had no more use for him.

The Mole really resented that on a deeply personal level.

It was one of the things that I could tell really hurt him inside.

Knowing where the strings were being pulled from and who was pulling them helped me a lot.

Now I could understand the ‘why.’

The first time The Mole and I hooked up on the phone I was really nervous… I mean… I didn’t know the guy… I didn’t know if he was one of them or what.

It was true that ‘Double D’, my Godfather vouched for him and all, but still…

I could be spillin’ to an infiltrator.

I could be tellin’ them everything I knew.

It left me feelin’ kinda exposed.

So the first few conversations were just us ‘feelin’ each other out.’

I kept the information tight in the beginning… I had some good dirt… I had loads of really good dirt but I’d let it out a little at a time to see if the mole was leaky.

Sometime’s I’d let go of a juicy piece of ‘misinformation.’

Just to see if it got out there.

I’m sure The Mole did the same thing.

There were a half a dozen guys feeding me information… but none of them were as dedicated to screwing these guys as The Mole was.

And none of them had as much information.

I was always really protective of my sources and no matter how much I trusted anyone I never let out the names… that was pretty much a given from all directions.

If I guy thought you were a ‘loose cannon’ he’d dry up with the information right away.

The Mole knew I wasn’t a plant or anything… the story was all over the newspapers and on tv.

My picture was in the papers too.

They interviewed me on TV.

They had me talkin’ on the radio.

In London even.

It was pretty obvious that I had a score to settle.

The Mole saw our working together as an opportunity to advance his agenda and I saw him as a great resource in understanding the relationships behind the names.

I knew the ‘who’ but it was only because of The Mole that I’d know the ‘why.’

All along I’d been taunting them on the internet.

I wanted to shift the ‘battle’ there after the firebomb incident.

It was always David versus Goliath and the internet was my slingshot.

I let them know I wasn’t going to back down… that I wasn’t afraid of them and their badges and their guns.

The media was on my side too.

They loved the story.

At least the parts of the story that they knew… and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The whole thing was such an irony and it made for great soundbites.

It didn’t take long for The Mole and I to gain each others trust and respect.

I genuinely liked the guy… we became good friends and we looked out for each other… we had each other’s backs through the whole thing.

Our relationship was like two guys playing a very important and strategic game of chess against the regime.

We started to bounce every move off of each other.

We’d discuss the ramifications of putting this information out… who that would piss off… whose toes would get stepped on by that comment… where it would seem like that information came from…

We debated what hand that we’d play… what cards we’d hold and where we better fold.

The Mole was ever cool and The Mole was always calculated.

The Mole was also pretty paranoid about things.

He’d pause when we spoke on the phone and there was a strange clicking sound… ‘did you hear that’ he’d say.

He thought that they were tappin’ the phones.

At first I just kinda laughed it off as conspiracy babble but later The Mole’d be proven right.

The Mole was always right.

He knew what these people were capable of.

He knew what they’d done before.

The Mole always told me to watch my back.

He’d been to hell and back in Vietnam in the late sixties and he would say ‘man if I had you on my side when I was over there we’da won that war.’

The Mole loved to tell stories about what went on there on the inside.

He told them really well… he was a great story teller and I really enjoyed listening to the tales.

Some of them scared the shit out of me.

He told me about ‘Secret Squirrell’… the officer with a fetish for high powered weaponry… the one who drove around with a trunk full of weapons that would make Al Quieda jealous.

Wasn’t it Jesus who said ‘know your enemy so you can screw them better’?

Wait, that was Sun Tzu… the ancient Chinese General that wrote the book ‘The Art of War’ which sat next to my computer on my desk through this entire debacle.

I’d find myself referring to ‘The Art of War’ almost on a daily basis.

Jesus said ‘love your enemy’ and that was just as good.

Ask anyone going through a divorce.

I loved to hear the stories about their exploits.

The stories painted a picture in my head.

And I’d use that picture to get in their heads.

After a while I started to feel like I knew people I had never met.

I knew who left her checkbook in the mayor’s truck.

I knew that the mayor’s wife found it.

I knew that the mayor’s wife knew about it and she said to a friend ‘why would I want to divorce a millionairre?’

I also knew that that woman who left her checkbook in the mayor’s truck later ‘won’ the village’s charity raffle for the Jeep Wrangler.

Legend had it that she was actually ordering the options before the raffle even took place.

She insisted on leather seats and a CD player.

The Old Man was the one who drew the ‘winning’ ticket.

The Jeep was ‘hush money’ and everyone knew it.

That’s how this kind of corruption works… the people doing it don’t consider it evil… but they know it’s wrong… kinda like lying to a chick you really wanna score with… tellin’ her you know somebody you really don’t just to impress her…

What they do know is that if they get you in to it they can keep you there.

You’ll be on the inside forever… or at least until they don’t want you there.

I make it so you win the Jeep, you ain’t gonna say I’m corrupt.

You might whisper it… elbow it around in closed company and stuff… but you ain’t gonna go on some ‘anti corruption crusade.’

Because you’re just as dirty now.

You’re one of us.

Corrupt is corrupt and the only difference is in the amount of the corruption.

The Old Man was the king of corruption.

I don’t even think he did it so much for ‘personal gain.’

I haven’t heard a single tale of him putting any dough into his bank account.

It was pretty clear he was using the taxpayers money to maintain some of his property… even improve it… but I think he looked at that as makin’ the town a better place to live.

He just happened to make a lot of money off of it at some point.

‘The Old Man’ graduated from the ‘Polish School’ of politics… the philosophy was ‘we’re all gonna work really hard… we’ll cut up the pie and everybody who tows the line’ll get a piece… but if you don’t tow the line not only will you not get any pie but I’ll crush you with my iron fist.’

The Old Man liked to tell people that he ‘ran this town with an iron fist.’

At a council meeting once when he was trying to get a garbage incinerator built on some property he owned… a deal that would’ve made him a substantial amount of money… and he wouldn’t let opponents of the deal speak… he said:

‘This is my democracy.. I started it’ he said ‘if YOU want a democracy you can go start your own.’

He was a tough old bag… I really kinda admired him for that… and in almost forty years of runnin’ the place he’d never gotten a ‘no’ vote from his rubber-stamp council.

If you were on The Old Man’s good side you were golden.

You got on his bad side and you’d come to learn what he meant by ‘iron fist.’

The Old Man got rich in trucking and transportation.

He didn’t need the money that all the corruption around him made.

I don’t think he took a penny directly.

He spread it around.

He gave it back to the people in the form of a tax rebate.

It was in his mind the way that Robin Hood would do it.

Which was ironic because the Old Man was rich.

‘Turning his head’ and spreading out the money became the source of all of his political power and he knew that better than anybody.

Until I came along nobody had ever gotten in his way.

It all started in that dark parking lot on a cold December evening.

They were the ones who started it.

Nobody ever thought that would be the spark that brought it all down.

Like most wars, nobody involved at the beginning even knew that a war had been started.

Not even me.

And I just happened to find myself right there at ‘ground zero.’

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