Montana’s waters are some of our most precious natural resources. They flow from rain and mountain snowmelt to irrigate our farms and ranches, to quench our thirst, and to feed our rivers so we can float and fish with our friends and families.

The Smith River is one of our favorite hidden places… and the people who live in the nearby towns share our love for this special water.

Which is why we were surprised when Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway – who is from Great Falls - decided to put outside interests ahead of the Smith River by voting against a bill that would protect waters from mining disasters.

Rep. Sheldon-Galloway

The Smith is being threatened by the potential development of the Black Butte Copper Mine which could cause acid runoff into the river. The Black Butte Mine would dig through sulfide ore — the very stuff that causes acid runoff. Hard-rock mining doesn’t exactly have the best record around Montana. Just look at what happened with the Zortman-Landusky mine near Malta, or the Anaconda Copper Mine in Butte, which gave us the Berkeley Pit. Do we really want to take that risk again?

This bill calls for more frequent monitoring of certain mines to prevent them from contaminating our clean waters. It would ensure that the taxpaying residents of Montana don’t have to foot the bill for messes left behind by multinational mining corporations.

During her election, Sheldon-Galloway promised that she does “not believe in supporting special interest groups.”  This vote sure makes it seem like she made the choice to support Canadian and Australian mining companies over her neighbors in Great Falls.

In a video she posted on her website, she said that “the number one infrastructure priority should be our water systems in Montana” and that her “grandkids’ future will be determined by [her] generation’s decisions that [they] make today.”

We couldn’t agree more, Rep. Sheldon-Galloway — so you might want to start by making sure we avoid polluting that water in the first place!

Fishing on the Smith