WEST GLACIER, Mont. - In 2011, Canadian lawmakers banned mining, drilling, and oil development in the headwaters of the Flathead River. Now, Montana and the US are holding up their end of the bargain. Congressman Steve Daines showed his support Friday to introduce a bill in the US House to protect the North Fork watershed without impeding hunting, fishing, or timber production.
"I'm here to offer my helping hand in the US House of Representatives to achieve what this local community support, and that is protecting the watershed," said Daines.
Conservationists, the Congressman, and other Montanans look to the NFWPA to protect the waters of the North Fork and the land surrounding it in perpetuity.
"[It's] a place where we can have jobs and grow up raising our kids here, the next generation," Daines continued.
Since several oil companies voluntarily left 200,000 acres of land in the North Fork, the act would come at no cost to taxpayers. Still, Daines said there will be challenges in Washington and looks to Senators Tester and Baucus for help.
"Setting aside whether we have an 'R' or 'D' behind to our names," said Daines, "and remembering that we have 'MT' behind our names. We'll put the interest of our state first."
It's the hope of many that a decision made some 2500 miles away in an urban jungle will make a bit impact on a place where the mountains are rural skyscrapers.
"The North Fork is a vestige of old Montana," said Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana. "Its very, very rural. There's no power, pavement, no telephone. It has a nice rural character that folks up there would like to conserve and we'd like to help them with that."