Montana has occupied the attention of a sizable chunk of the online fly fishing community as of late – the by-product of an anti-stream-access bill, and news of a potential gold mine on Montana’s famed Rock Creek.

The worst news?

That’s not the worst news.

First, let’s dispense with the stupidity we already know about.

WillFishForWork was among the first to publish news of the Rock Creek gold mine issue (read more here at the Missoulian newspaper), and several Montana blogs have also done good work following the stream access issue, even engaging in actual reportage (especially the resurrected Chi Wulff).

They’ve done a good job mobilizing fly fishing’s blogosphere, and while kudos are in order, further vigilance is required.

Because we’re not done yet.

The Overlooked Bad News: Cyanide Leach Mining Rises From Dead

One Montana Senate bill (SB 306) is attempting to do what Montana’s voters have already said shouldn’t be done: revive highly toxic cyanide leach mining in the state.

Montana’s voters overwhelmingly said “no” to cyanide leach mining in a pair of referendums, and yet – like the zombies who never die, but rise from the grave to eat the brains of the living – a bill comes along to create loophole you could drive an Abrams tank through.

The bill would encourage the creation of more open-pit mines in the state, and allow the ore to be shipped to one of a handful of mines for “processing.”

In other words, it’s more bad news for Montana’s streams and rivers, which – based on the figures I’ve seen recently – mean far more to the economy than extractive industries.

I’ll try to stay current on this one, though anyone with more connections in Montana might want to prod the thing with a pointed stick to see what’s happening.

That said, we’ve gotta ask: What’s with this tidal wave of bad news from Montana? Sadly, the answer is…

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

All of the above is the result of the recent elections, which were decided supposedly on the campaign promises of more jobs for the state.

As near as anyone can tell, the legislation introduced is having the opposite effect, and a lot of it is frankly of the Black Helicopter variety.

Sure, every state has its share of nutjobs, but the western states seem uniquely equipped to vote them into the office, leading to a tidal wave of moronic (and non-job-related) legislation like these currently infesting the Montana legislature (from the Montana Cowgirl blog):

This is not a joke. These are real bills, and they are currently taking priority in the Montana legislature. Enjoy.

Welcome to the land of nutters, the Montana Legislature.

  • Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear (Senate Bill 112)
  • Create fully-armed militia in every town (House Bill 278)
  • Create an 11 person panel with authority to nullify all federal laws (House Bill 382)
  • Eliminate educational requirements for persons seeking job of State Superintendent of Schools (HB 154)
  • Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations (Senate Joint Resolution 2)
  • Omit Barak Obama’s name from the 2012 ballot because his father was born outside of America (House Bill 205)
  • Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations (Senate Bill 114)
  • Require the federal government to prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully acquired. (House Bill 506)
  • UPDATE: 18. Declare that global warming is good. (House Bill 549)

I’d love to shake my head sadly and – striking a faintly superior note – suggest it’s too bad Montana has fallen into the grip of those who believe they were once abducted by aliens, but we’re facing pretty much the same level of inane behavior right here in Siskiyou County, whose Board of Supervisors would vote to secede from the union if we wouldn’t lose the bags of federal money that flow into our county each year.

In Montana’s case, I’m tempted to suggest that its heavily pestered trout have attained a higher level of intelligence than many of its legislators, who seem far less choosy about what they’ll bite off.

See you at the loony bin, Tom Chandler.