Montana has a long tradition of listening to and respecting — revering — its writers and the state’s literary tradition. In an unprecedented show of unity, more than forty of Montana’s best writers have gathered, in rapid response fashion, to write original essays and testimonials advocating for the protection of our public lands, and endorsing Democratic House of Representatives candidate Rob Quist’s position on this (literally) most common ground of issues. Please vote on May 25.

The Changing Ways of Flowing Water

David Brooks

Protecting the headwaters of our nation’s rivers and streams was a key reason the federal government created our system of public lands. Those of us who value our state’s and nation’s fisheries know that maintaining the health of those headwaters continues to be a key benefit of our public lands. In Montana, a full two-thirds of native trout habitat is on federal public land.  

We know that taking these places out of federal hands through land sale or transfer of management will mean losing access and seriously diminishing the Montana way of life. Public land giveaways would erode our hunting and fishing traditions and the $6 billion outdoor economy those activities and access to public lands provide.

To borrow from Heraclitus on the ever-changing nature of nature, no man, woman, or child “ever steps in the same river twice.” In Montana, our right to step into a river or stream at all depends on access. Publicly owned and managed land provides most of that access. The health of the water we love depends on the protections provided by public ownership and management of land. Just as we are awed by the changing ways of flowing water, we rely on the permanency of public lands.

David Brooks is the Executive Director of Montana Trout Unlimited.

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