Two Fabled Montana Streams Protected From Hydro Development


Madison River, MT | © Scott Bosse

The proposed dam on the Upper Madison River, MT would have been a serious threat to wild brown and rainbow trout | © Scott Bosse

Virtually every fly fisherman in the country has either fished or wants to fish the Madison River. After three years of relentless advocacy by American Rivers and its conservation partners, a Bozeman-based hydropower developer has abandoned plans to build potentially damaging hydropower projects on two revered trout streams in western Montana.

In 2009, Hydrodynamics, Inc. proposed to dam and divert East Rosebud Creek to produce only 6 megawatts of electricity in a state that already produces far more electricity than it consumes. The dam would have been located south of Roscoe on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

East Rosebud Creek is cherished by anglers for its wild brown and rainbow trout fishery. The project was opposed by local residents who have now fought off two hydropower projects on this scenic waterway. American Rivers is working with Friends of East Rosebud and other groups to get East Rosebud Creek designated as a Wild and Scenic river so it will forever remain clean and free-flowing.

The second proposed project, which would have produced only 5 megawatts of power, was slated for the Upper Madison River between the outlet of Quake Lake and the Reynolds Pass fishing access site. In low water years, it would have partially dewatered one of the most popular stretches of blue ribbon trout water in the country, posing a serious threat to the river’s wild brown and rainbow trout fishery. Like East Rosebud Creek, this stretch of the Madison has been found to be eligible for Wild and Scenic River status. Because of these actions, the trout in the Upper Madison River can continue to grow and thrive, not having to compete with an unnecessary hydropower project.

With the immediate threats of potentially damaging hydropower projects gone, American Rivers and our partners can focus our attention on permanently protecting East Rosebud Creek and the Madison River by advocating for Wild and Scenic River status.

To learn more about what you can do to help protect important trout habitat like the Madison and East Rosebud, please visit our Anglers Fund page.