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Those of us who were here fifteen years ago might recall that in 2005 the Forest Service and the city of Bozeman proposed thinning forest growth in the Hyalite and Leverich Canyons. Since 80% of Bozeman’s water comes from those areas, a wildfire there would leave the city without water for its residents. After 15 years of delay, mainly due to litigation, actual wood cutting began in June of this year. But no big timber will be cut and hauled out until November.

Now, way back in the good old days, when only a few alarmists believed in global warming and its fallout, like the wildfires which are ravaging California’s mountains, no one was bothered by this leisurely pace. If you go to, you can find the statement, “Reduction work … may continue for 2–10 years.” No hurry, folks.

However, I would suggest that the odds of having a wildfire in the heavily used Hyalite and Leverich Canyons are too high to allow a comfortable two-to-10-year timeline. Perhaps the good citizens of Bozeman who want water to drink, cook, flush and bathe with should press city officials and forestry folks to hustle a bit. Smoky skies and air pollution are nasty, but no water for 40,000  people will really reduce the population of our fair city.

John Heilman


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