Fly fishing guide Hilary Hutcheson grew up fishing and rafting in northern Montana, the cold mountain rivers and streams near Glacier National Park.
“It’s a wonderful place with lots of water,” she says.
But as the climate warms, shrinking glaciers and less snow cover reduce the flow of meltwater into these rivers and streams.
About 50 years ago, there were 35 named glaciers in the national park. When Hutcheson started his career in the 90s, there were about 30 glaciers left.
“And now … the USGS says about two dozen,” she says. “Such significant changes over time that I’ve guided and kind of a weird thing to be able to watch and see happening before your very own eyes.”
With fewer glaciers providing meltwater, rivers and streams become shallower and warmer.
Hutcheson says that could threaten fish habitat and harm the state’s multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation industry.
So to help protect western rivers, Hutcheson has testified before Congress about the changes she sees.
And she’s working to educate her clients and the public about how human-caused warming is transforming the area she grew up in — and loved by so many.
Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media