by Mike Thompson
Game Range Columnist
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
June 4, 1998
Your neighbors are working to make June 12, 1999, a day worth waiting a year for. It is the date when our local Citizens' Advisory Council will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Blackfoot-Clearwater Game Range.
Your attendance is not merely requested. It's required!
Ideas and enthusiasm flowed freely during last week's Council meeting at the Game Range headquarters, but not without some controversy and disagreement. It seems there is some dispute as to which year will be the fiftieth.
As the saying goes, it's hard to fly like an eagle when...
FWP officially acquired the Boyd Ranch on November 27, 1948. Given this information, Council and Yours Truly were able to agree that the Game Range will be fifty years old on November 27, 1998.
Discussion turned to an alternative celebration date, considering that this coming November 27 is the day after Thanksgiving, one of the last days of hunting season, and probably not the best possible time for a public event. We gravitated toward the month of June, when the grass is green, weather is warm, and wildlife is out and about. But, this June would be too soon for making proper and fitting arrangements. It would have to be next year.
"Anyway, next year will be the fiftieth year," an unnamed mathematics dropout rationalized. To my amazement, his statement was supported with head nodding and grunts of approval from the other Council members.
At that point, I pondered the need for a competency examination to screen future Advisory Council members.
"Actually, this is the fiftieth year," I replied matter-of-factly, "so next year will be the fifty-first year." I received a barrage of hoots and catcalls for my trouble.
Amidst the din, I heard someone string a sentence together. "You don't turn fifty-one on your fiftieth birthday," he reasoned, between gasps for breath.
Rock solid in the face of social disaster, I proceeded. "Yes, but you've already lived your fiftieth year of life when you reach your fiftieth birthday."
It was a crowd pleaser. Judging from the guffaws, I felt I should be earning more income from my comedic talents, and I had plenty of time to consider the appropriate wage before the laughter and derision subsided.
"Son, on your first birthday, have you lived zero years or one year?" I was sure I had them now, but soon came to understand that the grip of ignorance is powerful indeed. At one point in the discussion, there was a move afoot to completely discount the first twelve months of a person's life outside the womb, in order the support the insupportable claim that people - or places - begin their first year of existence only after they've celebrated their first birthday.
From the seeds of doubt sprouted tension and discontent, until a loud, clear voice saved the day. "June 12 of next year will be pretty darn close to fifty years."
Who could argue, and can we now agree that 1998 is pretty darn close to the fiftieth year of the Blackfoot-Clearwater Game Range?
Having slain this intellectual dragon, our minds whirred as one. With hopes for Game Range posters and prints, newspaper and magazine features, television specials, fund-raisers, wagon rides, tours and other events, it's quite likely that the grand celebration on June 12 will cap a full year of festivities and serious efforts that may well culminate in something special and important.
Maybe our own substantial conservation achievements in this commemorative year will give cause for our children and grandchildren to fight over which year they should celebrate the Game Range centennial. I wish them that gratifying burden.