Montana Farm Bureau opposes overzealous river control initiative |

Montana Farm Bureau opposes overzealous river control initiative

BOZEMAN, Montana—The Montana Farm Bureau has joined more than 50 groups in opposing I-191 which would subject large stretches of the Gallatin and Madison rivers to the same strict regulations currently found only in national parks and wilderness areas. The result would restrict ranchers from watering livestock and farmers from irrigating, as well as stop most other activities in or around the rivers.

“Our organization has a real concern about I-191 because not only would it keep our state’s farmers and ranchers from growing crops and caring for their animals, but it would devalue neighboring property, prohibit road and bridge maintenance, shut down an entire area of Gallatin County to affordable housing development, and undermine current environmental restoration efforts,” noted MFBF Executive Vice President John Youngberg.

He explained that Montana has some of the strongest water quality laws in the country, but I-191 would circumvent the existing laws and process by overriding the protections that Montanans worked together to put in place.

“Under I-191, Montana Department of Environmental Quality would be prohibited from approving a permit for any new or increased discharge that causes a change in water quality, including only a temporary change. I-191’s sponsors tried before to shut down activity on these rivers, but they were denied by the Board of Environmental Review and the Montana courts,” Youngberg said. “Now they are attempting to set a new precedent that could be used on waterbodies throughout the state. This initiative undermines controls that have been set in place and tosses out any collaboration of groups who worked for years to protect the water. I-191 ignores input from local Montanans who have to live with the consequences of a rule developed by environmental extremists.”

Youngberg noted that the initiative would hurt Montana’s economy by halting agricultural activity, preventing anglers from enjoying the rivers, and stopping any bridge or road repair in the vicinity of the rivers.

“If approached by someone trying to get I-191 on the ballot, please decline to sign,” Youngberg concluded.

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–Montana Farm Bureau Federation

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