“Dangerous Obstacle.” Exposed Pipe Closes Part of a Montana River
Well, here is something you wouldn't want to have to navigate around when floating a river in Montana.
And in this case, it's in such a complicated section of water that navigation around it is not even practical, and has been deemed very unsafe. For now, the only logical solution is to close down a small stretch until the problem can be resolved.
That's the decision made by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, working in tandem with officials from Stillwater County. FWP has informed us that a section of the Stillwater River is under emergency closure as of this morning (Tuesday). Montana FWP also points out that the closure is only for watercraft on the designated section of the Stillwater, not other river access.
Low water levels have exposed a natural gas pipeline. Those low water levels have not only reduced the depth but the width of the river. Floaters found themselves unable to go around the pipeline, therefore having to go over it, presumably by getting out of their watercraft, standing in shallow yet swift water, and lifting the vessel over the pipeline.
And that hazard led to another, as once over the pipeline, floaters were forced into a debris pile, increasing the risk of injury or drowning.
A 70-mile gem famous for its fly fishing, the Stillwater eventually feeds the Yellowstone River near Columbus, journeying from high in the Beartooth Mountains. The section of the river affected by the emergency closure is between the Absaroka Fishing Access Site and the confluence of the Rosebud River, which is just upstream from the Jeffreys Landing Fishing Access Site. This area is all quite close to Absarokee MT, on Montana Highway 78, 10-15 miles south of Columbus.
Here's hoping authorities can create a solution quickly and that no serious mishaps occur.
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