Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Phil Condon

Commitee Members

Laurie Yung, Tom Roy


Rattlesnake Wilderness


University of Montana


Dear Reader, I wrote this thesis for you. While I do talk at length about myself, my intent is to serve you as a guide to the Rattlesnake Wilderness. I share these 13 personal essays and stories in the attempt to connect you with a place I love. This collection uncovers oral histories of past residents, interviews with biologists and activists who have made substantial contributions to the land and to my understanding of it, adventures into the backcountry, encounters with wild animals, and significant exposure to places and history of the Rattlesnake Wilderness. In managing these varied topics, I debated on the most suitable method of organization. I tinkered with the idea of a seasonal cycle, but I did not learn about this place in such neat order. Then I thought about creating different sections for each subject, but felt that such a pragmatic arrangement did not allow the essays to speak to each other in a way that was fully satisfying. I resolved then to arrange them according to the central theme of trying to know one place through experience. While I feel this is the most honest approach, there are drawbacks. Seasons come and go quickly between the pieces, historical voices emerge between my own experiences, but the overall trajectory leads the narrative through my attempt to call the Rattlesnake home. In no way is this a comprehensive effort. This is a scratch on the surface. I can think off-hand of more interviews I would want to include, more issues that I have left untouched, and more places I would want to go. My hope is that if you have never been to the Rattlesnake, this will pique your interest, and if you do have working knowledge or extensive experience in the area, I hope this will contribute to your understanding of the place. Even if you have never been to the Rattlesnake or never care to go, I hope that this collection will speak to your own curiosity about exploring the depths of whichever place you try to call home. For now though, welcome to the Rattlesnake.

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© Copyright 2009 Tim G. Gibbins