Sustainable Missoula: Music venues step up efforts to protect river, recycle, compost

KettleHouse Amphitheater sits along the beautiful Blackfoot River in Bonner. (Logjam Presents)

Missoula-based live entertainment company Logjam Presents has been steadily growing since its 2016 inception, gaining substantial support from Missoula residents and tourists alike.

As Montana continues to embrace live entertainment, Logjam has in turn accepted its responsibility and obligation to the community, doing what it can to ensure present and future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

The owners of Logjam Presents also own the 1,500-capacity Wilma, the 4,500-capacity KettleHouse Amphitheater, and the 600-capacity Top Hat Lounge – all three venues located in greater Missoula.

The amphitheater hosted six concerts in its first season and is currently scheduled for three times that in 2018. Each year between The Wilma and Top Hat, over 120 ticketed events take place, in addition to the daily operations of Top Hat’s growing restaurant and bar business.

With the influx of traffic flowing through Logjam’s doors, the need for sustainable business practices became increasingly apparent to owner Nick Checota.

In December of 2017, Logjam Presents announced the launch of its Going Green Initiative– a collaborative effort to foster environmentally conscious practices that contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future for patrons, the surrounding community, and the world as a whole.

Phase One, the current phase of the initiative, was marked by the partnership of Logjam Presents, the city of Missoula, and Missoula Compost Collection. The partnership is in support of the city’s ZERO by FIFTY goal to reduce landfill waste 90 percent by the year 2050.

The main goal of Phase One has been to implement a comprehensive composting and recycling program across all three Logjam venues. To do this, Logjam replaced plastic single-use cups and straws with 100 percent compostable bioplastics, introduced Klean Kanteen reusable cups and water bottles, and also began composting food waste.

To further cut back on unnecessary single-use products, Logjam venues no longer serve drinks with straws unless requested. This decision came after Mayor Engen proclaimed May 4 as Missoula’s first Straw Free Day.

The proclamation was inspired by a class of first-graders at Sussex School who came up with the idea while learning about waste reduction.

Should you choose to use a straw, special green composting receptacles and blue recycling bins have been placed in each of the three Logjam venues, where patrons and employees can properly dispose of cups, plastic water bottles, food, straws and other waste.

Republic Services picks up the recycling bins, which include mixed plastics, cardboard, box board, paper, food cans, aluminum and more.The compostable products are picked up by Missoula Compost Collection, which delivers them to Garden City Compost, the city of Missoula’s compost operation.

Sean Doty, owner of Missoula Compost Collection, estimates that in the past five months, they’ve picked up nearly 17,000 pounds of compostable waste from Logjam. In his words, Logjam is quite literally “keeping tons of food waste/plastic out of the landfill.”

Come May 31, composting and recycling will become even more imperative when KettleHouse Amphitheater opens for the first concert of its second season.

Grammy award-winning indie folk band Bon Iver sold out the season-opener, meaning around 4,000 people will be inside the amphitheater. Many of them will be drinking and eating, especially with the opening of KettleHouse’s new on-site Top Hat kitchen. Composting and recycling food and drink waste will be vital to the venue’s sustainability efforts.

Aside from the Going Green Initiative, Logjam felt inclined to help secure the majestic waters on which the KettleHouse Amphitheater was built.

In March of 2018, the newly established Logjam Foundation (the charitable arm of Logjam Presents)partnered with Montana Trout Unlimited to form the Blackfoot River Fund—a partnership dedicated to conserving and protecting the Blackfoot River.

When patrons attend concerts at KettleHouse Amphitheater, $1 from each ticket sold and an amount equal to 5 percent of gross bar sales will be contributed to the fund. In addition, 100 percent of the profit from all Blackfoot River Fund merchandise will be contributed.

With the generous support of concert-goers, the Logjam Foundation has raised over $35,000. That’s already a third of the way to the $100,000 goal originally set.

Most importantly, 100 percent of the Blackfoot River Fund will be used by Montana Trout Unlimited to launch specific initiatives designated to preserve the Blackfoot River.

Examples of these initiatives include rebuilding stream channels, reconnecting tributaries to increase streamflow, facilitating better habitat for native fish, and working to foster responsible mining and gravel pit proposals.

The hopeful success and positive impact of Logjam’s Going Green Initiative and Blackfoot River Fund is in large part due to the Missoula community. Each effort relies upon the active participation and support of Logjam’s patrons and partners.

Logjam Presents is thoroughly aware and sincerely grateful to each and every person who chooses to spend their hard-earned dollars experiencing live entertainment in Montana. This is why Logjam will continue to filter company resources back into the sustainment and betterment of the natural world we all enjoy.

Sven Arneson is the community engagement manager at Logjam Presents

Upcoming sustainability events

May 26-28: 42nd Memorial Day Flea Market at 8 a.m. at Community Park in St. Regis

May 26-27: 50th Anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Acat 3 p.m. at Wilderness Gateway Campground in Lowell, Idaho

May 26: Missoula Farmers Market and Clark Fork Market at 8 a.m.

May 26: Purcell Ranch Community Days at 9 a.m. at the Purcell Ranch in Lolo

May 29: Ecological Restoration Pub Talk at 6 p.m. at Imagine Nation Brewing