Billings Gazette: Montana senators reintroduce East Rosebud Creek protection bill

Montana’s two U.S. senators again introduced legislation that would protect East Rosebud Creek in the Beartooth Mountains.

Sen. Steve Daines, a Republican, and Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, on Thursday reintroduced bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill S. 501, to permanently protect East Rosebud Creek under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, said spokesmen for the senators.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Leslie Ziegler, president of Friends of East Rosebud, said the organization “greatly appreciates” the senators’ bipartisan work to protect the creek.

“This area is a special place where many Montanans have chosen to live and raise our families — some folks have been here for generations,” Ziegler said.

“The East Rosebud attracts visitors from all over the world, yielding significant economic value to surrounding communities and our state,” Ziegler said.

This is the third try to get the creek designated as wild and scenic. Similar bills were introduced in 2013 and in 2015 but never made it to the president’s desk for final approval.

Frank Annighofer, vice president of the Friends of East Rosebud, said the 2015 bill had passed the senate committee unanimously last year, but it was too late in the process to go to a floor vote.

Tester said in a news release, “This is another made-in-Montana solution that was built through years of on-the-ground collaboration that will allow folks to hike and fish the East Rosebud for generations to come.”

“When we designate the East Rosebud, it will become the first Wild and Scenic designation in Montana in nearly 40 years,” Daines said.

The bill would designate two sections of East Rosebud Creek that run through Forest Service land. The creek originates in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and flows to the prairie when it joins the Yellowstone River west of Columbus. No private land would be affected by the legislation.