Water resources face increasing pressure, from chemicals to crowding

Montana rivers like the Yellowstone are seeing increasing pressure from recreationists at the same time that development is increasing in the region.

Brett French

As Montana’s population has grown, development, drought, disease, invasive species and recreation have combined to put more and more pressure on the state’s water resources in all their forms — from rivers, lakes and streams to groundwater.

It’s a pattern Dave Stagliano saw before, when he lived in Colorado in the mid-1990s. Now, the president of the Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society worries Montana is traveling in a similar direction.

“No (fisheries biologist) is disputing any of the bad changes that are coming down the pike,” he said.

“We can’t ignore the fact that fishing pressure is one of those things, on top of environmental stresses like some of the drought years, that can really put a fishery in jeopardy,” he added.

Two recently published studies highlight new dangers facing all waters in the nation that are less obvious than crowded boat launches or hook-scarred trout.

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