Upper Missouri Waterkeeper submitted a letter signed by a broad coalition of Montana fly fishing outfitters and lodges, international fly fishing businesses Orvis and Patagonia, and conservation groups requesting Governor Gianforte immediately create a Cold Water Fisheries Task Force to address the decline of cold water fisheries in the state, particularly in Southwest Montana.
The letter, in part, states:
“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, local governments, tribal governments, conservation districts, fly fishing businesses, agricultural groups, watershed groups and conservation groups.”
The time to take action and protect our cold water fisheries is now.