Montana’s Governor Stands Up for Clean Water


Spring has finally sprung in Montana, which for ranchers means it’s time for one of the most cherished social events of the year – branding parties.

Rancher-turned-Governor Brian Schweitzer put a new twist on the centuries old tradition when he held a branding party in front of the state capitol in Helena earlier this week— only there were no cattle in sight.

Instead, hundreds of Montanans cheered him on as he emblazoned seven bills with his new VETO branding iron for being “frivolous, unconstitutional, or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana.”

“At an actual branding party, there’s some castration, but we’re not doing any of that today,” he said to the disappointment of the crowd.


Gov. Brian Schweitzer takes his veto brand to SB 306.AVI

The governor drew the loudest applause as he put the branding iron to Senate Bill 306, a controversial measure that would have partially overturned a citizens’ initiative banning the environmentally destructive practice of cyanide heap leach mining. Montanans passed the original initiative back in 1998 to stop a cyanide heap leach gold mine from being built on the banks of the Big Blackfoot River of A River Runs Through It fame.Six years later, they successfully fought off an attempt by out-of-state mining companies to repeal it.

American Rivers is proud to have played a part in killing that gold mine by listing the Blackfoot as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers in 1998.  Next month, we’ll be releasing our America’s Most Endangered Rivers list for the 26th consecutive year.By shining a national spotlight on threatened rivers like the Blackfoot, we’ve helped save dozens of cherished waterways from new dams, mines and other harmful activities.

Cheers to you for supporting our efforts, and to Governor Schweitzer for riding for the clean water brand.