With some rain and a change in the winds, the local air quality finally improved enough for cycling long distances. The next stop was the Columbia Falls Community Garden, a lovely and vibrant space still bright with flowers and ripe tomatoes. Jenny, one of the people in charge of the garden, was very helpful and made room in their native plant bed for some Showy Milkweed seeds. Her sister is involved with Monarch conservation in Florida. Everyone here was very welcoming and friendly, and I left with a lot of fresh delicious veggies!
It seems that northwestern Montana is either marginal habitat for milkweed due to soil, climate, and other environmental conditions, or the land has been so drastically altered by human use and invasive species that milkweed is now scarce. Because of this (and because air quality, train schedules, and many other factors can derail a long-distance bicycle trip), this region of the Monarch Waystation Soundmap will focus on community gardens and other spaces where locals will be able to tend the seeds and young plants. Hopefully we can return in the spring and visit this wonderful space and its newly-sprouted butterfly habitat!