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Fed Report: Severe Fires, Drought and Fewer Fishing Lines for MT

July 18, 2008

Helena, MT – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a report documenting the ways climate change will affect people throughout the country. In Montana, smoke-filled air, earlier allergy seasons, and shorter fishing seasons are on the list, due to increased wildfires, drought, and warmer temperatures.

The study outlines potential health and lifestyle effects for each region area of the U.S., and calls Montana one of the states at a "critical crossroads" because of changing weather patterns and a growing population.

Dr. George Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says this is first-of-its-kind federal documentation, about how climate change is expected to have an impact on health and lifestyles.

"There hasn't been a lot of discussion about the actual things that affect people. So, what we're hoping this report will do is begin to raise this as an important issue."

The report says warmer water temperatures will bring an end to much of the stream trout-fishing in Montana. Jim Martin, the former fisheries chief in Oregon, explains.

"We're looking at more rainfall in the winter and less in the summer, and if the water gets any warmer, we're in real trouble. Many, many streams may not be able even to have fish survive through the summer."

The report also predicts the extended drought in Montana will become worse, and increasing water withdrawals from wells could affect underground supplies around the state, increasing costs. Some critics of climate change science say the phenomenon is a natural process not affected by human actions. The report makes no recommendations on how to slow climate change, although its findings may prompt Congress to take the issue more seriously.

Report excerpts may be read at The full report, "Analyses of the Effects of Global Climate Change on Human Health, Settlements and Welfare," is also online, at

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MT