Montana’s Resilient Fishing Economy Tested by Climate Change


Montana’s fishing economy has proven resilient amid the impacts of drought, but a latest study suggests that 35% of its cold water habitats could change into unsuitable for trout by 2080, costing the state an estimated $192 million in annual revenue.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the University of Montana contributed to the brand new study titled “Socioeconomic resilience to climatic extremes in a freshwater fishery.” It ran within the journal Science Advances on Wednesday, the Bozeman Day by day Chronicle reported.

“Trout fisheries have enormous cultural, economic and ecological importance in Montana and worldwide, yet even Montana’s resilient trout fisheries could possibly be vulnerable to future climate change,” said Timothy Cline, a USGS scientist and the paper’s lead creator, in a news release.

Cline and authors Clint Muhlfeld, Ryan Kovach, Robert Al-Chokhachy, David Schmetterling, Diane Whited and Abigail Lynch used Montana FWP’s recreation monitoring data to research how climate change impacted 3,100 miles of the state’s rivers between 1983 and 2017.

They found that the concentration of anglers doubled overall inside that 34-year time period, and severe drought conditions, which drive stream flows down and water temperatures up, significantly impacted how that fishing pressure was distributed across the landscape.

When temperatures warmed and flows dropped on certain rivers, anglers flocked to other areas where waters were colder. These cold-water segments supported 10 times more anglers than warm-water segments, and most of them were from out of state.

“By moving to other fishing areas that were more favorable during drought, visitors kept trout fishing revenue within the state slightly than selecting to travel elsewhere,” Cline said within the press release. “Trout fishing in Montana has been remarkably resilient to changing conditions.”

In contrast, resident anglers were less willing to travel to other areas in response to drought, they usually often continued to fish along rivers by their homes, even when the conditions were stressful on trout, in keeping with Cline.

While Montana’s fishing economy has demonstrated resilience during past periods of drought. particularly those within the late Nineteen Eighties, early 2000s and in 2017, Cline said he expects latest challenges will emerge because the climate warms throughout the approaching a long time.

“Montana’s fisheries are renowned for his or her trout, and trout require cold, clean, connected habitat to survive,” he said. “Because the climate warms, loads of those attributes are changing rapidly.”

Trout generally require water with temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As temperatures rise, they don’t do as well, and other species are likely to thrive, Cline said.

About 35% of Montana’s cold water habitat could change into unsuitable for trout by 2080, and the losses could put 30% of current angler spending in danger, which amounts to about 21% of the full annual fishing economy within the region, in keeping with the study.

Critical pieces of cold-water habitat have allowed anglers to maintain fishing for trout when other major rivers are closed, and maintaining as a lot of those features on the landscape as possible might help be sure that the fishing economy stays robust, Cline said.

“When we expect of the best rivers, we expect of places just like the Madison and Blackfoot, but under stressful conditions like drought, anglers need to seek out different opportunities,” he said.

Smaller, colder habitats, like streams which are fed by groundwater, are critical, but they often get ignored.


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