The Bitterroot chapter of Trout Unlimited, along with Montana Trout Unlimited and the national Trout Unlimited organization, has dedicated decades of investment and effort to the preservation and enhancement of the Bitterroot Valley’s iconic wild trout fishery.
These investments have encompassed a wide range of initiatives, from ensuring that Painted Rocks Dam maintains trout-friendly water flows to advocating for public access, restoring tributary streams, and even employing a full-time project manager exclusively devoted to the well-being of this watershed.
Given the long-standing commitment to this region, it is with great concern the potential development of a rare earth elements mine in the Sheep Creek tributary of the West Fork Bitterroot River. The West Fork is not only the habitat of some of the watershed’s last remaining native bull trout, a species listed under the Endangered Species Act, but it also encompasses productive agricultural lands, residences, and a vibrant hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation community. Each of these elements lies at the core of the Bitterroot’s local community and economy, and each could face substantial threats should a mining operation be established upstream.