Indeed, if anyone doubts the severity of the problem, just check the U.S. Geological Survey streamflow website, where about the only thing to be said is, “read ‘em and weep.” For instance, there’s so little water in the Upper Big Hole, several stream gauges are no longer reporting any water flows or water temperatures. Then consider this is the last refuge of the fluvial Arctic grayling in the Lower 48 states. The last.

While the intention of these groups, individuals and businesses is undoubtedly sincere, by the time any “task force” gets appointed, meets and is “brought up to speed” by endless reports from state and federal agencies, any opportunity to “save” the grayling will be long gone, just like thousands of Montana’s coldwater fish.

Moreover, this is in a drainage for which the Big Hole Watershed Committee has been in existence for 26 years, claiming to find “consensus solutions” through “collaboration.” Were the outcome not so tragic, it would be laughable. Sadly, it’s just another utter failure of the “collaborative” approach to dealing with serious environmental and conservation issues. In the Big Hole’s “Land of Ten Thousand Haystacks,” the hay gets the water and the fish die on the hot rocks in this consensus solution.

The truth is that the existential crisis for Montana’s coldwater fisheries was totally predictable months ago. But our governor refused to lead. And what little action he did take was to drop out of a multi-state climate pact, declare an emergency, and call for more federal “disaster relief” money primarily for crop and cattle losses — not to save coldwater fish.

In short, one of Montana’s unique and irreplaceable resources, our coldwater fisheries, are being needlessly sacrificed because our Republican “leaders” refused to lead — and now it’s too late, they’ve done too little, and it’s way, way too bad.