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MT Rivers on New “Trout in Trouble” List

July 23, 2008

Helena, MT – One Montana river is listed as a "treasure of the west" but two other rivers are listed as "trouble" in a report on the health of trout and trout fishing industries released today. The Big Blackfoot is held up as an example of how conservation groups, ranchers and others can partner to keep water healthy for people and fish, even in a changing climate. The Bighorn and Big Hole rivers, however, are listed as in need of similar concerted attention.

Bruce Farling, with Montana Trout Unlimited, says tweaking water policy would help make sure there is more cold water for fish in those rivers.

"For example, we could allow an irrigator to leave water in-stream for the benefit of fish, rather than remove it out of fear that if he doesn't use the water, somebody will take his water right."

Report author Steve Kinsella says Montana knows how much a decline in trout populations can hurt the economy, after dozens of fishing seasons were closed early last year.

"It's bad for the industries throughout the West that have grown up around trout fishing, such as guides, outfitters, motels, resorts and hotels."

According to Trout Unlimited, trout fishing brings in nearly $300 million a year to Montana.

The full report is available at www.montanatu.org.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - MT