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The Chronicle's recent article eloquently described the need for more water to support Bozeman’s population growth, but misses the collateral impact of meeting that water demand.

Lyman Creek, a spring-fed tributary of Bridger Creek, exemplifies one such impact. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks describes Lyman Creek as "a spawning tributary and nursery stream for both rainbow and brown trout residing in Bridger Creek or the East Gallatin" and "an important component of the larger Bridger Creek ecosystem." American Rivers noted in a recent letter that Lyman Creek "provides important habitat for . . . deer, elk, moose, black bear, coyotes, blue heron and Sandhill cranes."

Bozeman last increased its annual diversions from Lyman Creek in 2008. Trout Unlimited recently found that late summer flows in Lyman Creek fall well below healthy thresholds. But Bozeman yet again plans to increase its diversion from Lyman Creek, which will be even more detrimental to trout spawning habitats, downstream water rights and the Bozeman way of life.

Simultaneously, trout populations are under attack by warming water, low flows, parasites and habitat loss. According to Gov. Bullock, “a threat to the health of Montana’s fish populations is a threat to Montana’s entire outdoor economy.”

My father moved us here 40 years ago to raise his family in a place that treasured the surrounding wildness. He would be saddened to think that Bozeman has become a town that would jeopardize wildlife habitat in favor of unbridled growth. In full disclosure, Lyman Creek runs by my house, and my family has downstream water rights, but in my father’s Bozeman, preserving a creek was in everyone’s interest.

How do we preserve Bozeman’s quality of life in the face of such growth? If destroying a pristine trout spawning creek now is so easy, what’s next?

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Siri Wise Gilliland


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