We humans often have the misguided notion that we can either improve on nature or that our developments will have little or no impact on the surrounding environment. A case in point is the proposal for a hydroelectric dam on the East Rosebud River just below the lake. The claim being made is that it can be done with little or no harm to the river. If one buys into this statement, I suggest they drive up the canyon, park on the lot at the Phantom Creek Trailhead and then hike up the trail for a quarter to a half mile. At that point, look down at the free-flowing river as it meanders down the canyon, cascades over and around huge boulders and puts out that magical sound of mountain water.
Now try to imagine an eight-foot-high dam just below the outlet to the lake, a two-mile-long penstock that will require diversion of a significant amount of water from the main channel, a power station further down the canyon and new transmission lines. Some suggest the penstock could be buried. This would require significant trenching and blasting due to the geology of the area. One can only imagine the significant impact this would have on the riparian zone.
The beautiful and wildness of the East Rosebud Canyon are unsurpassed. Its relatively short driving distance to Billings provides a quality experience for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and other outdoor adventures. There aren't any new East Rosebuds being made. The same can be said of the Stillwater, West Rosebud and others.
It's time to provide permanent protection for all the rivers along the Beartooth Front. Urge Rep. Dennis Rehberg along with Sens. Baucus and Tester to sponsor legislation for wild and scenic designation for these special rivers.