A view of East Rosebud Creek

A view of East Rosebud Creek looking south toward the Beartooth Mountains.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

Protecting East Rosebud Creek in the Beartooth Mountains from development through a wild and scenic designation will be discussed Saturday during a meeting in Billings.

The meeting will begin at noon at the Billings Public Library, 510 N. Broadway.

Montana Sen. John Walsh, a Democrat, along with a representative for Rep. Steve Daines, a Republican, will be attending the meeting, said Annette Lavalette, a member of Friends of East Rosebud.

Both Walsh and Daines are considering legislation that would designate the East Rosebud as wild and scenic, which is a federal designation that protects rivers from new dams, pollution and other activities, Lavalette said.

Walsh, who was appointed in February to replace former Sen. Max Baucus after he became ambassador to China, is seeking election to the seat this year. Daines also is running for the position.

The Friends of East Rosebud group has been working for several years for the wild and scenic designation for the creek.

The latest push comes after a Bozeman company last year allowed to expire its preliminary permit to build two small hydroelectric projects on East and West Rosebud creeks.

Mary Ellen Mangus, a Friends member who has a family cabin on the East Rosebud, said the hydroelectric project would have ruined the creek’s pristine character and partially dewatered the creek.

“Everyone within 10 miles of the proposed dam site opposed it, including a lot of ranchers who have been here for generations,” Mangus said.

“Now that we’ve defeated the dam, we’re working to get East Rosebud designated as wild and scenic so we never have to fight that fight again. We’re hoping we can convince others,” she said.

The organization is not too concerned about proposals to drill for oil because research shows there is no oil under the East Rosebud, Mangus said.

Last week, Montanans for Healthy Rivers, a coalition of conservation, watershed and sportsmen groups, released a statewide poll showing Montanans overwhelmingly support conserving the state’s rivers.

Poll results showed that three-fourths of Montana voters support the Wild and Scenic Act, with support coming from all political parties and regions of the state, said Scott Bosse, the Northern Rockies director of American Rivers in Bozeman.

Montana has four wild and scenic rivers, including a 150-mile stretch of the Upper Missouri and the three forks of the Upper Flathead River. All four were protected in 1976.

The poll, Bosse said, was conducted by a bipartisan team of FM3 Research and Public Opinion Strategies. The poll surveyed 400 Montana voters from Feb. 20 to 23 and has margin of error of 4.9 percent.

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