Protection Sought for the Gallatin River

Protection Sought for the Gallatin River

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Mulvey, Chris
Last December, American Wildlands (AWL), a conservation group headquartered in Bozeman, filed a citizens’ petition on behalf of over 2,000 individuals, more than 75 area businesses, and 15 other organizations requesting the state to list the Gallatin River as an Outstanding Resource Water. In March of this year, their petition was accepted by the State Board of Environmental Review. The Board instructed the Department of Environmental Quality to complete an Environmental Impact Statement, which will involve a comprehensive evaluation of all the environmental, economic, and social impacts & implications related to the proposed designation. If AWL’s efforts are successful, the Gallatin will become Montana’s first designated river and will be protected from any permanent degradation of its current and exceptional level of water quality.

This is an outcome that, according to AWL, should make all kinds of people happy, from hikers, bikers, and wildlife enthusiasts to sportshounds, fishermen, and thrill seekers. Even realtors, private landowners, and business interests will benefit, they say, because the Gallatin is key to much of the economic prosperity and social well-being of Bozeman and the surrounding communities. Acting now to ensure the river’s protection makes much more sense than paying expensively later to clean it up, says Stu Levit, Watershed Integrity Program coordinator at AWL. "Where water quality is preserved we see a robust economy," he says, "especially from tourist-related dollars, because people come to Montana for its beauty and health."

If you want to sign the petition supporting the Gallatin, help with the ORW process, or just get more information, go to the American Wildlands Web site (www.wildlands.org/gallatin) or contact Chris Mulvey at 406-586-8175.
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