By Montana Grant

Posted: September 4, 2021

There is nothing more beautiful than a free flowing, clean watershed. The sound, smell, feel, and sight enriches our spirit and nourishes our soul.

The last 2 years have been hard on our Montana Watersheds. Many articles have been written about the overcrowded Madison River. Other rivers, Parks, and natural resources are experiencing more full campgrounds and record tourism.

The Climate change has warmed our waters. The Sun has been hotter in the last decade than in the last century. More solar flares and solar energy has radiated into our Earth. Rivers are drying up and fish populations are struggling. We are loving our natural resources to death.

As the environment changes, so must we. Sadly, you can’t continue to exploit our resources the same way. We must find positive ways to conserve the blessings of our special wild waters and places.

This is not the first time our waters have been overcrowded. Remember when timber was a priority? Our rivers became floating highways for logs. Water was our first highways. Rivers were scoured, fish were wiped out, and the damage was complete.

Oh, and remember when copper was king? The discovery of gold, coal, and so many other minerals needed water to exploit them. This meant that our watersheds became contaminated with toxic chemicals and fish were screwed again.

Like it or not, Montana was built on its watersheds. The waters were the highways for pioneers, development, agriculture, and survival. The needs of our rivers were more than crowded, poisoned, eroded, and impacted. We can still see the scars and measure the chemical contamination.

The good news is that we have been able to protect and conserve so many of our precious waters. The Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in North America. At one point, the narrow canyon off the point of Wine Glass Mountain, just south of Livingston was to be dammed.  Rivers and waters of Montana are the liquid gold for today’s development.

Folks figured out what their priorities were. We wanted our Natural Resources more than parking lots, roads, dams, and development. As the world grows, so will we. More people want to live in Montana to celebrate the same thing.

There is a limit to what our populations and watersheds can absorb. Much of our water is dependent upon weather and snowpack. There is only so much water for so any people. Farmers, gardeners, fish, wildlife, homeowners, energy companies, and civilization all need some water. No one need should be at the expense of others. We need to find compromise.

Trout symbolize watershed and environmental wellness. They are the Canary in the Coalmine. When Canaries stop singing, danger is at hand. When trout stop swimming, the waters are too low, warm, and polluted. These warnings must be heeded, or we are next.

Crowded fishing problems should be a simpler fix than what our watersheds had to endure in the past.

We may have been ignorant to these ideas in the past. That can’t be the excuse today.

Montana Grant

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