Montana Senator Wants Law to Ensure Bighorn Flows

February 3, 2007 By: Marshall Cutchin

Expect this to be the new normal in the U.S. west, where increased population and environmental effects are combining to stoke a we-want-ours mentality with far larger implications than the standard rancher feuds over water rights. Max Baucus, new chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, has introduced legislation that would force the federal Bureau of Reclamation to ensure a steady flow of water out of Yellowtail Dam so that the Bighorn tailwater would maintain adequate levels. Folks in Wyoming are decrying Baucus’s motives, noting the senator’s comments during the bill’s introduction: “I’m from Montana, and Montana comes first.” As we noted back in September, Wyoming residents are still wondering whether the loss of 73 ranches was worth the price, especially since the tourism promised to northern Wyoming never materialized.