Of course that was nothing compared to what's happened in the Bitterroot in the years since ... and every time I go down that way I remember Toole's lecture and regret the ever-more-depressing view.
Here's a stanza from Greg Pape's poem, "View of the Bitterroot." Pape is a Missoulian who has taught in the University of Montana's creative writing program for many years.
The new owners of the wheat field
plan to develop the land, cut
the acres, where the sandhill cranes
return each year, down into small lots,
five hundred houses packed in tight
like gold bars in rows
over the shallow aquifer
at the edge of the marsh.