Rocky Boots Blog

Rocky Boots Blog

Fishing and Rancher Conservation

Catch and Release Fly Fishing, Brown Trout

Big Sky Country is known for its fly fishing and plentiful trout. With miles of rivers and streams flowing through the state, Montana sees anglers migrate throughout the year to fish everywhere from the headwaters on the Continental Divide to the open waters of the mighty Missouri River, and everywhere in between.

While many people come to enjoy access to waterways via access points on public and private lands, few may realize what it takes to maintain these open lands. Montana is home to more cattle than people, and as a result livestock grazing is a major driver of economic activity and land use within the state. These livestock graze on private acreage and federal lands – both Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service allotments.

Through my travels working with ranchers across Montana and the greater Northwest region, I experience time and again how these families are true caretakers of the land, in turn maintaining our vast open spaces. Ranchers are often excited to share their latest fencing project or improvements to irrigation and grazing management.

They’ll often jump at the opportunity to take me up the mountain for a view if time and weather conditions allow. There is much pride involved when it comes to maintaining and improving the environment where we live, work and raise our families.

mid adult man on holidays on river, relaxing and fishing trout

This season as you prepare for a fishing trip on your favorite waterways, be it in the great state of Montana or in your local area, take a moment to consider the intricate planning and management required to maintain these open spaces for public access to the outdoors.

The concept of ‘natural’ often does not mean leaving an area untouched. Most headwaters in our region exist where livestock grazing is utilized as a tool to improve plant health and diversity in riparian areas in a way that ensures we have a clean water supply from the very start.

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Managing livestock to coexist with wildlife in a manner that improves plant diversity and health is a major goal for ranchers who wish to operate a successful, sustainable business model. Many of these land owners/managers are willing to work with anglers and outdoors enthusiasts as long as they show respect for private property, livestock, fences and gates.

There are many programs recognizing ranchers’ work through environmental stewardship, conservation and sustainability initiatives. Be sure to check out the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (EnvironmentalStewardship.org) or the Leopold Conservation Award (LeopoldConservationAward.org).

You can learn more about these stories and how ranchers are working to sustain our clean waterways on my blog, AgricultureProud.com, or follow along on the weekly podcast as I visit with these ranchers across the country.

Best of luck on the water this year! Do you work with any farmers or ranchers to access your favorite fishing hole? Shoot me a photo and connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

-Ryan Goodman

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