1999 Legend

Jane Holzer

Director, Montana Salinity Control
P.O. Box 909
Conrad, MT 59425

The Water Legend Award honors a dedicated individual who, through time, dedication and hard work, has significantly contributed to water resource activities in Montana. Jane Holzer, Director of the Montana Salinity Control is the year 1999 awardee.

Videotape transcript of the water legend introduction

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, Great Falls — Oct. 1999

(Thanks to May Mace, for transcribing this piece of oral Montana water history.)

Marvin Miller introduced Steve Schmitz (DNRC) to present Jane Holzer with the Water Legend Award.

STEVE — I got surprised a couple of times tonight. I overdressed just slightly and Jane asked me to dress down slightly, which I did. I didn’t realize what a momentous occasion this was going to be. Also, I didn’t realize until 2:00 this afternoon that I was going to be doing this presentation, so that’s a surprise there. Nor did I realize there were going to be four or five beers here. So this is going to go pretty well, I think.

I have been requested to present this year’s Water Legend, Jane Holzer, and it is quite an honor for me to do this, Jane. We have known each other for quite a long time – twenty years or so, I’m not sure, but we go way back. Originally, Ted Dodge was gong to give this presentation but he couldn’t be here because he had a crisis that came up just this morning.

The first question that I had to ask in preparing a few notes was just what is a legend? Why would Jane be a legend? In order to make that determination, I thought, “well, we should step back in time a little bit”. Jane is from Stanford and I thought I would make a couple of calls down there to see what I can find out. The first problem that I had was that nobody remembered her.

I’ve been hearing about the first three legends we have. I finally found a couple of people who kinda remembered Jane, so I got a little information and a few leads along the way about what made Jane a water legend. And then among the education line, Jane was the very first in Basin County to be home schooled. And that was at the request – a strong request – from her teacher. She really excelled in education and law. We used to read in the paper that she had a couple of problems with her math and some bad multiplication. Remember the 125 mill space craft that was demised? I talked to Jane’s math teacher and that lady is absolutely convinced that Jane was behind the loss. That would make a legend. Second to the last, the sheriff chimed up and said it is finally safe for you to come back home, Jane. The statute of limitations is over. So now you can go back and have a good time in your home town. Only one other thing, the Library still wants their books back.

Once she left Judith Basin at Stanford, she went over to Bozeman and got a B.S. degree in rural sociology. We never have figured out yet what rural sociology is. She did get a degree in Math. and Ag production. Talking to folks over at Bozeman, there is something about Jane that is unusual. Of her class mates or cohorts that she ran around with, nor sorority or fraternity people would give me any goods on Jane when she was in school.

The thing is that Jane is the kind of person that is always in the background keeping her eye on everything and all of us. We didn’t get any information at all about what Jane did back in college that would get any dirt on her. We still find that the Molly Brown has a table over in the corner that Jane used to dance on.

Beyond getting a B.S. degree, Jane did graduate studies and worked with a lot of crop people, worked with Montana Experiment Station and moved into the Triangle Saline Seep Association. She got a position as Assistant Program Manager with the Association in 1980, I believe. Talking with Ted Dodge, who was Program Manager, he said that Jane nearly lost the job when one of the people on the Board of the Old Saline Seep Association was concerned that as a woman, she wasn’t going to be able to handle the problems of getting stuck in the mud out there while working on the saline seep program .

This was actually a true story. She was working on her very first job out of school, she actually would be able to get out of the mud and contribute like the rest of the men with saline seep problems.

I think it worked out alright. We finally got her on the straight and narrow. She got stuck a few times and we had to finally put blocks on the peddles so she could reach them.

Ted Dodge, who again couldn’t be here, also wanted me to extend a particular thank you to Jane because along the way in working with Jane and solving her drinking problem, it was really quite severe while she was working with the saline seep association. It actually helped Ted with his drinking problem, too. I don’t know, but those of you that know Ted, it may have been the other way around.

In 1984, Jane became the Program Director for what is now called The Salinity Control Association and it was the original Triangle Saline Seep Association that served nine counties to a broader base organization called the Montana Salinity Association. Jane became the Director of the Association and I can safely say that since that time, has very effectively grown as one that served nine counties to at least 34 counties now. She tackled that with a lot of good judgment but also with some political savvy and always along the way, her extreme technical background from her staff and from her own knowledge made a great combination. She has gone from a group, a handful of staff that worked on strictly saline seep reclamation type projects to one now that deals with a broader base of issues on saline seep, but now broadening out to a group that handles things like petroleum based contamination, groundwater contamination and beyond that to one that deals with new issues like carbon seep sequestration that we’ve asked Jane to become involved with. She has become a go-to-gal from the standpoint of folks like myself who work on issues all around the state can go to Jane and her group and expect to get results on the ground. She is also one who has the extreme confidence, I think, by people who sit on her board. Jane deserves a lot of credit for that to receive the award from the Montana AWARA.

If you will come up so I can hand you this choice piece of salt, Jane. The nickname we have had for Jane for a number of years is Old Salty in a real affectionate sort of way. We couldn’t have said it in a better way than with a big block of salt.

Applause and Standing Ovation.

JANE – I do want to thank you very much and I think today has served a real plus to listen to this. My strength has always been to work with people and my team. I would like to introduce my staff, Scott Brown, Joe Von Stein and Robert Legare. I’m only as good as they are.