Yellow Bird: Yellowstone River needs protection

"As I admired the beautiful river, I found my admiration was overshadowed by reports that there is trouble at the Yellowstone's headwater. The river has been named the second most endangered river in the U.S. for 2006.


Because of people and development.

Development on the upper Yellowstone has increased by 57 percent in the past two decades. Some 600 buildings now are located in the river's 100-year flood plain in the Paradise Valley area. People have put riprap, levees and dikes along the river's banks to protect themselves from erosion and flooding, according to groups such as America's Rivers and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

These changes are making the river run faster and creating opportunities for more flooding downstream, the groups say. There also are six low-head diversion dams downstream from Billings, Mont., which hinder the passage of pallid sturgeon, paddlefish and other fish species of special concern.

How sad it would be to change the wild Yellowstone River into a dammed, sluggish and controlled waterway. But then, I looked at North Dakota's Missouri River, which has the same kind development on its banks.

It would be wise for both states to carefully evaluate development on rivers. And we certainly should keep the Russian olive from crowding out our indigenous trees."

Get the Story:
Dorreen Yellow Bird: Wild rivers need our protection (The Grand Forks Herald 6/30)

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