Bill looking to name peak for late conservationist passes Senate

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  • The view from atop the mountain proposed to be named Alex Diekmann Peak looking west into the Madison River Valley, south of Ennis. (Photo courtesy John Muhlfeld)

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    Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld, left, with The Trust for Public Land project manager Alex Diekmann

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    The view from atop the mountain proposed to be named Alex Diekmann Peak looking west into the Madison River Valley, south of Ennis. (Photo courtesy of John Muhlfeld)

  • The view from atop the mountain proposed to be named Alex Diekmann Peak looking west into the Madison River Valley, south of Ennis. (Photo courtesy John Muhlfeld)

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    Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld, left, with The Trust for Public Land project manager Alex Diekmann

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    The view from atop the mountain proposed to be named Alex Diekmann Peak looking west into the Madison River Valley, south of Ennis. (Photo courtesy of John Muhlfeld)

The U.S. Senate last week passed a bill to name a 9,765-foot peak as “Alex Diekmann Peak” in honor of the late renowned Montana conservationist.

The Senate passed the bill to name the peak after Diekmann, who worked on more than 55 projects and helped preserve more than 100,000 acres during his career. He was instrumental in helping conserve about 23,000 acres of forested lands around Whitefish including the Haskill Basin conservation easement.

The previously unnamed peak is 2.2 miles west-northwest of Finger Mountain on the western boundary of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

Diekmann was a senior project manager with the Trust for Public Lands. He died of cancer on last year at his home in Bozeman.

The bill says Diekmann “leaves a lasting legacy across Montana and the Northern Rockies that will benefit all people of the United States in our time and in the generations to follow.”

Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld was a friend of Diekmann’s. Muhlfeld last summer climbed the peak proposed to be named for Diekmann.

“Alex was instrumental in permanently protecting over 23,000 acres of forested lands surrounding Whitefish,” Muhlfeld said. “His passion for conservation was relentless. But more importantly, he was an incredible friend, father, and husband, and we will forever be reminded of his legacy when we go out and experience the lands throughout Montana that he helped protect.”

Muhlfeld worked closely with Diekmann on the Haskill Basin conservation easement from when the project was just an idea.

“I will never forget how the Haskill Basin conservation easement project came to fruition,” he said. “I was working for Trust for Public Land on a community park project in Bozeman called Story Mill. I was introduced to Alex, and he laid a crude map on the table in front of me and asked if I was familiar with the Stoltze Land and Lumber property. When I indicated that the lands provide over 90 percent of the city’s water supply, Alex immediately lit up and said well I think we have a project then.”

It was a year later, Diekmann returned with $9 million in federal funding, Muhlfeld recalled, and then work began to secure the balance of the $16.7 million dollars needed for project, and eventually Whitefish voters passed an increase in the city’s resort tax to close the deal.

Diekmann worked for 16 years to protect the Madison and Greater Yellowstone Area, which includes the Taylor Fork in the Gallatin Canyon, Three Dollar Bridge, Chestnut Mountain and Frog Rock, and the restoration of O’Dell Creek in the Madison Valley.

In addition, he sought to protect of The Offline Ranch, The Sun Ranch, The Granger Ranches, The Boltz Ranch, The Gecho Ranch and The Crumley Ranch.

Chuck Roady, vice president and general manager of F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company, worked with Diekmann on the Haskill Basin conservation easement, which involves Stoltze property.

“Alex crossed all barriers, working with everyone, to get things done for what’s best for the land,” he said in a prepared release. “I am proud to be a part of this effort to commemorate his life’s work. Thanks to Senators Daines, Tester, and Rep. Gianforte for coming together to pass this bill through the Senate. I hope it can become law quickly.”

U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte hailed the passage of the bill to honor Diekmann.

“Alex Diekmann brought Montanans together to balance the needs of local landowners, ranchers and foresters, local cities and towns, county commissions, and federal and state interests to protect our public lands,” Daines stated. “I look forward to visiting and climbing Alex Diekmann Peak in Alex’s honor with his family to commemorate his life.”

“Alex Diekmann’s contributions to Montana must always be remembered,” Tester said. “His impact to conservation and outdoor recreation will be felt for generations to come. Renaming this wild peak in his honor will ensure Alex’s legacy will remain a part of Montana’s outdoor heritage.”

“Naming the peak after Alex Diekmann is a tribute to a man who united people to protect our public lands. Alex embodied the spirit of working together that defines Montana,” Gianforte said. “I will continue working with my colleagues in the House to honor Alex, his work, and his memory.”

The bill was supported by the city of Whitefish, The Madison River Foundation, Montana Trout Unlimited, the Montana Association of Land Trusts, The Trust for Public Land, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the Gallatin County Commission.

The bill still has to pass the House and be signed into law before the peak is named for Diekmann.

A section of the Whitefish Trail passes through Haskill Basin. The lower trailhead off Reservoir Road is planned to include a memorial to Diekmann.

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