In four out or five past years, Lolo Creek has run dry. Historically, Lolo Creek has been a robust little stream filled with cutthroat trout and rushing water, but something lately has changed, and it isn’t an obvious answer. Are upstream irrigators using more than their share? Has development drained water from the area in drought years? Peter Friesen has a great article on the concern of locals and state officials alike about Lolo Creek, read it in The Missoulian.
HR 621, which would have allowed for the sale of 3.3 million acres of public land, will be rescinded today by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who introduced the bill to huge public outcry. Thanks to the people who protested, wrote letters, emails, and even instagram comments that helped change his mind for the better. The fight continues to protect public lands, but we’ve succeeded in putting the officials on notice: we won’t be silent when our right to public lands are threatened. Keep up the pressure on HR 622, and let your voice be heard.
By now, we hope you’ve heard of the “Public Lands Are Worthless” designation that the U.S. Congress has enacted. Building on that pile of dogshit comes H.R. 621 put forth by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz (of Hillary Clinton E-mail investigation fame.) H.R. 621 seeks to sell off 3.3 million acres across 10 states in the West. Read more about it at Wilderness.Org, and see what the Trump Administration has emboldened in congress, despite the interests of 72 percent of voters in the west that oppose just such a scheme.
The guardian has an excellent article on new research regarding last season’s Yellowstone fish kill, and the implications it has on the toll of human activity on rivers. From the article:
“In effect, these myriad human activities contribute to the weakening of the “immune systems” of rivers like the Yellowstone, making aquatic organisms more vulnerable to stresses like fish-killing parasites. The paper said these pernicious changes are being experienced in waterways across western North America and in other mountain river systems, including some found in Europe, the Andes, the Himalayas, and the high country of New Zealand.”
George Ochenski writes a beautiful elegy to fly fishing and conservation legend Bud Lilly, Read it in the Missoulian.
Winters can be a dull downtime when it comes to fishing news, but this winter has been a nail-biter for those anglers who use the Stevensville Bridge fishing access on the Bitterroot River. After landowner Roy Capp contested the access easement to his property, which the current site uses to access the river, it sent the town of Stevensville into a spin. Capp could simply refuse to allow access to his property, which would leave floaters with no access between Bells Crossing and the town of Florence. That’s a long float. Really long. Capp contested the access in September, and State Senator Fred Thomas (of Stevensville) presented a proposal on behalf of Capp. The proposal asks for a land swap that would allow for an 3.5 acre access at the bridge, maintained by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, in exchange for 8.5 acres downstream. This would significantly change the face of the site, but by all accounts it would do so for the better of all parties. As the landowner, Capp has dealt with trespassing, littering, and other sanitation problems, as well as degradation to the property itself due to wear from vehicles and heavy usage. The proposed land swap would allow a clear area for the access, while protecting Capp’s property. For FWP and river users, the land swap would allow for a large parking lot with 27 trailer spots and 14 car spots, latrines and fencing, and improvement to the lot itself. The costs according to FWP would be $250,000. The opposition to the swap would begin with the sizable difference in the property exchanged, and the cost to the town. Likewise, some residents are worried that the dog walking paths and other unofficial uses that have developed along the river would be excluded. Some others worry about increased governmental intrusion. Stevensville City Council met Monday night to discuss the matter further, and we await news from that meeting today. Members of the angling community were surely in attendance, and the news will travel fast. We’ll keep you posted.
My old friend Tristan Scott has an excellent article on the background of Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and his rise to the position of Interior Secretary as part of the coming Trump administration. While some groups in Montana are applauding the pick, other conservation groups have grave concerns regarding the choice, and as Zinke becomes a player on the national scene, his conservation views will soon guide the nation. “Today, his commitment to those conservation values is coming under deeper scrutiny than ever before as environmental groups respond to his selection with mixed reviews. Zinke’s appointment to hold sway over the nation’s federal lands and natural resources is hailed by many as a boon for conservation and public lands in Montana and nationwide, while others are unpacking the Congressman’s checkered voting history and support for aggressive energy-exploration policies as a portent for a polluter-friendly administration led by Trump, who has pledged to roll back regulations and unleash a torrent of fossil-fuel energy production,“ Scott writes. Mandatory reading for those concerned with conservation from a great journalist right here in western Montana. Photo and story via The Flathead Beacon.