I can’t count the times I’ve driven I-15 north out of Helena toward Great Falls and crossed the Missouri River at this bridge. Most of the time, I’m thinking that I’m finally out of the worst of the twists and turns and headed toward a relatively straight and flat stretch into Great Falls.
In the 1960s, when this bridge and the highway it carries were built, preserving the integrity of the Missouri and other watercourses on the way nearly got thrown under the proverbial bus.
But a handful of biologists like Jim Posewitz stood up and advocated for stream preservation. They said that studies had shown highway construction that converted meandering streams into straight channels was destroying Montana’s fisheries. Eve Byron wrote a great story about it in the current issue of Montana Quarterly.
The result of Jim’s and others’ advocacy was the passage of the Montana Stream Preservation Act in 1963.
Now, as Jim looks out over Helena from his office window, he can know that he made a difference in preserving what today is one of Montana’s proudest attributes — its world-class fishing. And as we all drive the Interstates through Montana, we can thank Jim as we cross the rivers and creeks.