Old Man and the River: Senator’s Fight for Montana Waterway
The North Fork begins in British Columbia and flows 45 miles (72 kilometers) through undeveloped provincial forest there. After crossing into Montana, it continues for an approximately equal distance, defining the western boundary of Glacier National Park, before joining the Flathead’s Middle Fork. The North Fork Valley is a corridor for wolves and lynx as well as grizzlies and bull trout, and a haven for an incredible diversity of plants and aquatic insects.
Only a tiny percentage of the valley is private property; most is public land. My own 32-acre patch of paradise is surrounded on three sides by the Flathead National Forest, and on the fourth by the river. But public land can be leased for mining, oil and gas drilling, and other purposes. For decades the valley has faced one industrial threat after another.
Baucus’s commitment to safeguarding it began shortly after he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1974. A Toronto-based mining corporation had proposed a massive open-pit coal-mining operation and coal-fired power plant near Cabin Creek, a Canadian tributary of the North Fork, just six miles from the northwestern corner of Glacier Park.
All at once, the wild, remote, and largely pristine nature of the valley was at serious risk.
Read the full story here.