WILD AND SCENIC
Over the course of a two thousand mile road trip around Montana I filmed a short documentary co-produced by my friend Joel Harris about the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.
It was the summer of 2012 and an energy company was trying to dam an amazing little stream in the Bear Tooth Mountains known as East Rosebud Creek. Reputable sources were arguing that the energy output would be extremely minimal and the environmental damage would be incalculably high. As if this wasn't enough to motivate us we soon learned that the East Rosebud was eligible for Wild & Scenic Designation via the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Being eligible for such status is no easy task; in Montana barely half a percent of all stream miles are eligible.
So, we quit are jobs and hit the road in search of the best 1% of Montana's stream miles.
When it was all said and done we had interviewed dozens of people and learned that the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of '68 was actually an idea born in Montana by two brothers: The Craigheads!
After touring the state and visiting as many Wild & Scenic eligible streams as we could we headed back to the East Rosebud Valley to see how The Friends of East Rosebud were doing in their battle to protect their headwater. We worked with them to create promotional media to advocate for not only the cessation of the dam construction but for the permanent protection of the East Rosebud under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Our work was cut out for us, though everyone loved the East Rosebud and few wanted it dammed, public understanding of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was extremely low.
In the end the beauty of East Rosebud was able to argue for itself and the dam proposal was dropped. Due, perhaps, in small part to our work and the videos we produced. But more likely it was the exclusive result of the tireless work by the many amazing people we met along our summer tour of Montana's best rivers. Filming Wild & Scenic had the unintended result of introducing us to some really rad people who do some really rad things.
Today the East Rosebud flows unthreatened and is on the verge of becoming designated as Wild and Scenic after which it will be permanently protected from all future dam proposals and other destructive developments. It will be free, wild, and scenic, for future generations to recreate on and enjoy.
So, head on over to www.saveeastrosebud.org to learn about how you can get involved in the cause of protecting one of Montana's best (literally in the top 1%) waterways.
But the East Rosebud is not the only river in Montana eligible for such protection there are several others and though the idea of Wild and Scenic Protection was developed in Montana our state has failed to designate any rivers W&S since 1976 when the Three Forks of the Flathead River and part of the Missouri were protected!
Meanwhile other states around the country have taken this wonderful gem of a law and ran with it, designating dozens of streams and rivers as Wild and Scenic, ensuring that they will always have the beautiful streams that they have today.
Today the Boulder, the Clear Water, the Yaak, Rock Creek, and others around Montana are awaiting designation! So do your part: visit these waters, fish, kayak, swim, raft, enjoy them! Then contact your government and tell them about your experience on the water.
- The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was inspired in Montana by John and Frank Craighead in the late 1960s.
- Montana has not designated any streams Wild & Scenic since 1976 despite there being streams eligible.
- Montana last designated the 3 forks of the Flathead River and a portion of the Missouri River.
- Only about .6% of Montana's stream miles are eligible for Wild & Scenic designation today.
- A Wild & Scenic designation doesn't prevent any recreation on the water.
- The designation is designed to enhance whatever is deemed most valuable about that stream. For example; if a river that has world class fishing is designated then fishing accesses might be improved (new boat ramps perhaps) and development that hurts the fishing wouldn't be allowed.
- In the US today there are over 80,000 dams and only about 3% have hydroelectric producing capabilities.
Learn more about this issue and this project at these websites:
wildandscenicfilm.com - our W&S blog with media and stories concerning this project
saveeastrosebud.com - the website for Friends of East Rosebud Inc. with information about the issues surrounding East Rosebud Creek as well as a petition for you to sign
rivers.gov/rivers/wsr-act.php - everything you could want to know about the W&S Rivers Act
This project was made possible by the following people and organizations:
Ben Cosgrove made our entire original soundtrack and his talented work can be found at bencosgrove.com
This film was made possible by the activism of Frank and Annette:
americanrivers.org - thanks to Scott and Mike for their advice and support
craigheadresearch.org/ - thanks to Lance, John, and the rest of their families
Lastly, we would be even more broke if it wasn't for Patagonia Inc and the grant they provided us.