This week’s Strategic Relocation Briefing from Joel Skousen has been contributed by the Strategic Relocation web site. If you’ve ever wondered about Montana and what living there might be like, where to look for land, and what considerations should be made before any relocation to a homestead of retreat, then keep reading. If Montana’s not your style then check out Joel Skousen’s previous strategic relocation briefings which cover regions on the east and west coasts, as well as top rated retreat areas in between.
For those who know where they want to go, or simply want to explore some possibilities, check out the For Sale By Owner listings, features and tools at www.StrategicRelocation.com.
For answers to your questions about anything related to relocating, survival retreats and even financing options we urge you to speak with the industry’s leading professionals at Survival Retreat Consulting.
(Glacier National Park, Montana)
Strategic Relocation Briefing: Western Montana
By Joel Skousen
Author, Strategic Relocation and The Secure Home
This week we’ll discuss another of the top rated areas in North America—Western Montana. If it were a state by itself it would rate 5 stars in Strategic Relocation—just like neighboring Idaho and Utah. But Montana is downgraded because of the Malstrom AFB (Great Falls) missile base, housing the largest number of Minuteman III missile silos in the US—a massive primary target which will someday absorb strikes from hundreds of nuclear warheads. Remember, missile silos are not on the base itself, but spread out over tens of miles around the base in the heart of Montana farmland. The state is also docked points for liberal control of the state government.
But Western Montana is separated by high mountains from those missile fields and is not downwind of the massive fallout that will flow eastward for hundreds of miles—putting all of Eastern Montana at risk. Western Montana also has a different climate from Eastern Montana. The main body of the Rocky Mountains separates Western from Eastern Montana and also keeps most of the dry, cold Canadian air mass from affecting Western Montana. Although Western Montana gets cold and snow in the winter, it’s usually about 10-15 degrees warmer than eastern Mountain, not only because of the blocking effect of the mountains (Glacier National Park forms the northern part) but because warmer moist Pacific coast air flows come in from the West throughout the year.
Population density is a very low 8 ppl/sq.mi. (48th ranking in the nation), and minority compositions are also very low. But, though most of the state is Caucasian, it’s not at all homogeneous. It’s a mix of the old rancher and mining town lifestyle (lots of bars) and urbane newcomers from California and elsewhere looking for a new life in the “old west,” but often bringing their left/liberal views with them.
Private land availability is only fair since the feds own or control 34% of Montana’s land. Building permits are required for all cities and counties, but many rural jurisdictions exempt many forms of buildings for farm and ranch. Montana does have a comprehensive development plan, but it only mandates that each jurisdiction have a zoning commission, and does not mandate conformity with any state plan.
Food production is good, although you need irrigation to do so, and the growing season is shortened by about a month overall compared to the more southern reaches of the US. But Western Montana’s growing season is about 15 days longer than Eastern Montana. Water quality is excellent where fed by mountain springs but only fair from valley wells where agricultural pollutants are present. Air pollution is not a problem except downwind of a couple of factories. There is very good solar potential in the East, but only fair in the West due to 7-8 months cloudy weather.
Gun Liberty is good. State law does not require a permit to purchase firearms, but is required to carry a concealed firearm in cities. Montana is an open carry state, even in a car or truck. There is good availability for alternative medicine in the state. Home Schooling has low regulation, only requiring parental notification.
The Montana economy is not very strong due to the governmental regulations that have severely impacted both mining and logging in the state. Montana is now mostly a ranching/agricultural and tourism service-based economy which is fairly weak. Eastern Montana is more like a mid-western state, but with little rainfall, very few roads, and a declining population. There are no towns over 10k in the East except for Billings.
Western Montana is where the great outdoor living experience begins and where the best retreat sites are located. However, even in this beautifully forested area, Montana has a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde personality. There is significant tension between the liberal, rough, anti-religious segment of the population and the arch-conservative Christians who are increasingly drawn to Montana to seek liberty. The Flathead Valley of Western Montana was chosen by former Presidential candidate Pastor Chuck Baldwin, and many conservatives have moved to Western Montana following his example, and even seeking to associate with his Liberty Fellowship Church—one of the few Churches in the nation that refused to be tempted by the tax deduction trap, and which is free to preach about any subject under the sun. See www.chuckbaldwinlive.com for downloads of his always inspiring Sunday sermons.
But the Baldwins have found that the good ‘ol boys network of legal and judicial corruption even exists in Montana paradise, as I outlined in a recent World Affairs Brief (www.worldaffairsbrief.com ) Democrats and liberals have had their way for so many years, they tend to react with real hostility toward the appearance of a conservative-Christian resurgence such as been happening in the Flathead Valley.
I was just up in that the Flathead Valley consulting with some clients and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good land at reasonable prices. A lot of Californians have moved into the Whitefish area and so real estate prices have been driven higher. The mountains have a lot of hard rock layers just under the surface, so building basements in mountainous areas requires costly blasting. However, in the broader valleys coming out of the mountains there is enough alluvial fill that basements are possible. The mountains taper down to the valley floor gradually so there are lots of good farm/retreat sites in the lower elevations, with some forestation. I prefer the southwest side of the Flathead valley so that you get the best solar advantage. Todd Savage’s Strategic Relocation Realty sites specializes in this area so be sure and check www.strategicrelocation.com before searching for property in Western Montana.
Other areas to consider are the Bitterroot Valley area: This is a 3,500′ elevation ranching valley close to the Idaho border, and gives residence the security backdrop of this massive Bitterroot mountain wilderness area. The slightly lower elevation and distance from the Montana plains also makes this a bit warmer in the wintertime (but it is still cold, with lots of snow on the ground). A lot of wealthy people have built cabins and ranches in the area, so prices are no longer cheap. The town of Hamilton itself is no longer recommended since the government built a Biosafety Level 4 biohazard laboratory there as part of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories. This facility has begun operations using highly-pathogenic organisms, which if released could be very dangerous. Darby, at the southern most end of the valley is the safest area.
The Clark Fork Valley Region is an extension of the drainage system feeding Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho. This valley is a mountain range apart from the I-90 freeway that feeds traffic from Idaho to Montana, and is very isolated and safe—perhaps too isolated if you need to travel often. It is situated between the Bitterroot and Cabinet Mountains. There are numerous small towns in the valley—all safe: Plains,Thompson Falls, Belknap, Trout Creek, Noxon, and Heron. The growing season is shortened in the valley by the restrictions to available daylight in a mountainous area.
There are hundreds of other retreat sites in these mountain valleys, too numerous to mention. As long as you avoid being close to the I-15 or I-90 corridor, you should be relatively safe. There are no major population centers here, so little threat of mass social unrest except those fleeing from the Seattle area on I-90 during a war scenario. Remember too, that Western Montana is downwind of Seattle should fallout occur so every home should have a fallout shelter and Safe Room built into a basement space.
Find the perfect homestead or retreat today. Visit www.StrategicRelocation.com.