Northwest Montana isn’t Disneyland

Let’s not let Viad profit by dumping this “very high profile” garbage on Columbia Mountain

By Gabe Valentine

Columbia Mountain should not be vandalized to satisfy rich tourists or corporate greed. Thirty years ago, I saw my first wild grizzly bear and cub on the face of Columbia Mountain. It’s still great roadless habitat for bear and other wildlife. It’s close to town, and it’s free. The “Pursuit Collection” wants to exploit this habitat for profit, suggesting that because it’s near the “already very busy Highway 2,” it should get to develop and commercialize it.

The Pursuit Collection is a pretentiously branded hospitality business owned by Viad Corporation. In pursuit of profit, it’s now scheming to “collect” Columbia Mountain for its portfolio by installing a monster gondola there, with a restaurant cherry on top. Their corporate shill says they’re “not envisioning a full-scale bar and restaurant.” Maybe they’re not “envisioning” that yet, but even a modest “very high-profile” restaurant perched atop Columbia Mountain is unappetizing.

Viad Corporation says that a gondola and another restaurant would be “an opportunity for people to do something different to enhance their stay here.” Here’s a newsflash for Viad executives: Tourists have plenty to do here already. Northwest Montana isn’t Disneyland, and that’s something both locals and tourists like about it. 

“We think it provides visitors and residents alike with a different way of taking in the splendor of northwest Montana.” But “different” isn’t necessarily good. Our local “splendor,” our dark skies, and our roadless grizzly habitat should not be polluted by a carnival ride for rich tourists that’s strewn across Columbia Mountain like a string of crummy Christmas tree lights.  

Kudos to the Forest Service for shooting down this bad idea. But the fight isn’t over, because the “good stewards” at Viad Corporation will keep trying. Let’s not let Viad profit by dumping this “very high profile” garbage on Columbia Mountain.

Gabe Valentine

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