By Kristin Gardner, Executive Director, Gallatin River Task Force
Last month, I was invited to join Montanans for Healthy Rivers on a trip to Washington D.C. The purpose of this trip was to meet with the Montana delegation to understand the next steps for the passage of the East Rosebud Wild and Scenic bill (S. 501 and H.R. 4645) and to discuss the overwhelming support from Montanans for a broader Wild and Scenic bill that would include the Upper Gallatin River, Porcupine Creek, and the Taylor Fork. Montanans for Healthy Rivers is a coalition of families, business owners, sportsmen, farmers, ranchers, agency officials, land trusts, and conservation organizations working together to conserve free-flowing rivers in Montana for future generations.
Monday, February 12th
3:15 AM: My alarm goes off and I head to Bozeman International Airport to meet Scott Bosse and Mike Fiebig from American Rivers, and Charles Drimal from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to catch a plane from Bozeman to Washington D.C. In a sleepy fog, I almost lost my license stumbling through the security process and I failed to notice that both Senator Tester and Senator Daines were on at least one leg of my flight.
2:00 PM: We safely arrive in D.C., hire an Uber, and check into the Hotel Madera in DuPont Circle.
5:00 PM: We’re off and running to the Russell Senate Office Building for the 50th Anniversary Reception of the National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers acts signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Here we meet the fifth member of the Montanans for Healthy Rivers (MHR) cohort, Kevin Colburn, of American Whitewater.
Tuesday, February 13th
12 PM: We meet with Senator Tester and his Natural Resources Legislative Correspondent, Henry Ring. The group discusses the East Rosebud bill, Tester’s re-election campaign, and a broader bill to designate 500 stream miles of stream in Montana as Wild and Scenic – including the Gallatin River, Porcupine Creek, and Taylor Fork.
4 PM: I meet with American Rivers Clean Water Supply Program Director, Gary Belan, at the American Rivers headquarters. We chat about how communities can solve their water resource challenges by integrating the management of water in all its forms, including stormwater, wastewater, and source water. I learn that “green infrastructure” is the new buzz word for “low impact development”, which addresses stormwater runoff by strategically using vegetation in urban areas to capture runoff.
8:30 PM: We dine on memorable Mexican fare (including grasshopper tacos!) and margaritas at Oyamel with the MHR crew and Amber Reimondo from the Grand Canyon Trust.
Wednesday, February 14th: Happy Valentines Day!
8:15 AM: We attend Montana coffee in the Hart Senate Office Building. I introduce myself to Congressman Greg Gianforte, take a photo with the entire Montana delegation, and enjoy my first donut of 2018.
9:30 – 10:30 AM: We meet with Senator Daines and his Senior Policy Advisor, Megan Marino, in the Hart Senate Office Building. The conversation runs from the passage of the East Rosebud bill in the House of Representatives to skiing at Big Sky Resort to support of the Wild and Scenic designation of the Gallatin River in Big Sky. We even spoke about the recent collaborative effort to develop the Big Sky Sustainable Watershed Stewardship plan.
11:30 – 12:30 AM: We meet with Congressman Gianforte and his Legislative Assistant, Trip McKemmey, in the Longworth House Office building. He updated us on his efforts to push forward the East Rosebud Creek bill in the House, which he expects to happen this spring.
6:30 – 7:30 PM: We end our adventure in D.C. with some well-earned beers, mini corn dogs, tater tots, and lots of laughs with Jon Tester and his Legislative Assistant, Justin Folsom, at the Union Pub.
Thursday, February 15th
6:30 AM: We catch a cab back to Dulles airport feeling hopeful that we made progress to develop a long-term protection for our treasured Montana Rivers.