Wade Fellin runs a fly-fishing lodge near Montana’s Big Hole River, an area renowned for the sport.

“Southwest Montana is an incredible place to go fishing,” he says.

And keeping it that way depends on clean, abundant water.

So in addition to running the lodge, Fellin is the program director for Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. The nonprofit works to prevent pollution and water shortages in Montana’s Missouri River basin, which includes the Big Hole River.

One of their campaigns seeks to prevent fracking, a method of gas drilling that uses a great deal of water and sometimes contaminates waterways.

“This is the wrong place for fracking. We’re talking about a very fragile ecosystem as it is,” Fellin says. “We’re talking about spawning beds for brown trout, rainbow, and cutthroat, and grayling being affected … and then a community that’s really supported by the health of the river system – the ranching community and a fly-fishing community.”

The organization helped delay two proposals to lease more than 10,000 acres of public land for oil and gas development near the Big Hole River.

Fellin says the goal is not only to protect the fish, but to protect the livelihoods that depend on fresh, clean water in southern Montana.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.