author=”Walkin’ Jim Stoltz” title=”singer, songwriter, conservationist”] “If all the
folks who use the backcountry
would stand up for it, write letters,
make phone calls, and vote for
pro-environmental candidates we
could make so much progress for the
planet … As Abbey
says ‘Sentiment without action
is the ruin of the soul.’
The folks in Congress do not know
wilderness. They do not know the
value of an unblemished skyline, or
the sight of a grizzly bear galloping
across a mountainside. They can’t
grasp the importance of a spotted
owl or for that matter a lowly
prairie dog. They’ve never felt the
power of the old growth forests or
the silence of the Utah canyons. You
need to tell them about these things.
Friends, family and admirers of one of Montana’s most well known
environmentalist-singers will gather on Saturday, Aug.
20 in the Big Sky Town Center to celebrate the life of Walkin’
Jim Stoltz in a manner he would have appreciated: in the mountains,
Stoltz, who hiked more than 28,000 miles of rugged North
American wilderness as inspiration for his music and his
conservation mission, passed away last September at age 57,
following a long battle with cancer. Before his death, he was
honored by the Environmental Protection Agency with an
outstanding achievement award for his efforts to help save
endangered animals. He also founded the non-profit, Musicians
United to Save the Environment (MUSE). After each
long walk, Stoltz took a photographic slide/music show of his
adventures on the road across America.
A longtime Big Sky resident, Walkin’ Jim was a featured entertainer
and a sleigh driver at Lone Mountain Ranch for over
25 years. He performed for Ophir School kids many times, and
he invited Big Sky kids to sing on his popular kids’ album and
video, A Kid for the Wild.
Leslie Stoltz, who was married to Jim for over 20 years, organized
the festival together with MUSE. At a memorial for Jim
in Helena last year, there were about 150 people in attendance,
Leslie said. ”But there were people from all over the country who
were disappointed they couldn’t be there.” That gave her the
idea for Forever Wild.
The Forever Wild memorial is a way to both honor Jim’s life and
continue his vision. Nationally known artists Dakota Sid Clifford,
Earth Mama Joyce Rouse, Kate Bennet, Emma’s Revolution,
and Alaskan troubadour Susan Grace Stoltz will take to the
stage in the Town Center to share songs of the Earth. Montana
performers Bluebird Sky, Prairie Wind Jammers, Keith Hammer
and Cowgirl Poet Buzzy Vick will also perform at the free event.
George Cole, NPR radio host of Real Time, interviewed
Leslie Stolz and Scott Carpenter, a Big Sky
resident who was close with Jim, for a radio show
that aired Aug. 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. MST. Listen to the interview online at ypradio.org.