Brian McGeehan is a business guy. He and his wife Ann own and operate Montana Angler Fly Fishing, a full-service fishing outfitting business in Bozeman, Mont.
But Brian is also a conservation guy. Montana Angler’s “30 Back” program contributes 30 percent of retail profits to support local outdoor education and conservation. Being an advocate for conservation is part of the job for him. But it’s more than that. For Brian, being a conservation advocate is who he is. That’s why he went all the way to Kansas City to testify on behalf of the Clean Water Act and the Waters of the U.S. Rule—also known as the Clean Water Rule.
“I was there to encourage the EPA to maintain the full level of current protections for the streams and wetlands that the Clean Water Act provides,” Brian said. “Clean water shouldn’t be a pro- business vs. pro-conservation issue. A strong Clean Water Act is pro business. It is good for the economy and good for jobs. While removing protections for seasonal streams and wetlands may benefit a handful of businesses, it will significantly damage many, many others including ours.
“Clean water is vital to our way of life in Montana and many other western states,” he continued. “Clean water in Montana goes far beyond public health. Rivers and streams across the Rocky Mountain states provide rich recreational opportunities that include floating, camping and world-class fishing. Outdoor recreation in Montana and many other Rocky Mountain states is vital to our economy. In Montana tourism by non-residents amounts to a $3.7 billion in spending to our state each year and is second only to agriculture. If we factor in spending of Montana residents that spend over $7 billion in outdoor recreation, tourism is the top economic driver in our state.”
It’s a valid point. Tourism in Montana and many other western states is built around outdoor recreation. In fact, in Montana, expenditures by travelers on guided fishing are only eclipsed by spending on gas, food and lodging. What this means is that people come to Montana and other western states to do things; and what they like to do most is fish, float and otherwise enjoy our rivers and streams.
“Our business is built on clean water,” Brian said. “We own a retail fly shop as well as own and operate two fishing lodges. We also partner with numerous hotels, independent fishing lodges and vacation home owners. Our clients help to provide employment opportunities for fishing guides, chefs, office staff, cleaning staff and retail staff. Our business, like many others, relies solely on clean rivers and streams. Without clean water I cannot support my family or the dozens of other families that rely on Montana Angler to make a living.”
Brian McGeehan is not alone in his concern about this ill-conceived idea. TU Business members from across the US are joining in opposition to the proposal. We urge you to join in as well. Please make your voice heard. The deadline for comments is April 15.