Call On Montana Governor Gianforte To Form A Cold Water Fisheries Task Force
Add your name to Upper Missouri Waterkeeper's letter along with dozens of other fly fishing business and conservation organizations. Montana's cold water fisheries need to be protected for current and future generations:

Governor Greg Gianforte
Office of the Governor
PO Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620

Dear Governor Gianforte:

Waterways across our state are facing troubling conditions and unprecedented challenges this summer, but none more than the Upper Missouri River Basin’s headwaters in Southwest Montana. From spring fish die-offs, summer heat waves and unprecedented drought conditions, to record low flows and historically low fish counts with declining brown trout populations combined with increased development and fishing pressure, Montana’s world-class cold water fisheries are dwindling away, suffering death by a thousand cuts.

On behalf of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Montana fly fishing businesses, outfitters, and lodges, international fly fishing businesses, and the conservation organizations signed below, we urge the immediate formation of a Governor’s Cold Water Fisheries Task Force to focus efforts exclusively on protecting and preserving Southwest Montana’s cold water fisheries, water quality, and wild salmonid populations.

As you know, clean and healthy rivers and vibrant, wild fisheries are part of our unique way of life. They are also critical to Montana’s outdoor economy, which accounts for $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 71,000 jobs. If water quality in our rivers continues to decline, and our rivers themselves dry up, these negative changes will also tank our state’s robust outdoor economy that directly depends upon vibrant cold water fisheries. During this difficult time recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot ignore the threats to our cold water fisheries that could undermine one of the largest contributors to Montana’s economy.

We urge the formation of a cross-government, multi-agency task force that would begin an important process of identifying meaningful policy changes, seeking proactive agreements with landowners, and implementing science-based long-term solutions to address the declining health of Montana’s iconic cold water fisheries. We recommend that the Task Force at minimum include representatives from Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce,  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, Region 8 EPA, tribal representation, local governments, tribal governments, conservation districts, fly fishing businesses, agricultural groups, watershed groups and conservation groups.

Recently implemented river closures and seasonal hoot owl restrictions serve as a starting point to addressing our threatened waterways and fish populations, but they are not the sole nor a long-term solution. As all business owners know, assessing risk and making strategic decisions to best manage risk is absolutely necessary to be successful. When it comes to Southwest Montana’s cold water fisheries and rivers, there is too much at risk for our state to continue ignoring the writing on the wall.

We respectfully request that your administration step up to protect some of the most unique, ecologically intact, cold water river systems in the Lower 48 before it’s too late by using your authority to form a Governor’s Cold Water Fisheries Task Force.  Doing so will focus collective efforts on targeted solutions for protecting Southwest Montana’s cold water fisheries, water quality, and wild trout populations. As a headwaters state we urge immediate action and look forward to working together to protect this valued, cherished resource that is so integral to our way of life.


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