In Regards to the Elbow Lake Gravel Pit
April 20, 2023
Elbow Lake is located on the Clearwater River, just over three miles north of Clearwater Junction. The stretch of the Clearwater below Elbow Lake and before the confluence with the Blackfoot River is a unique and peaceful trout fishing spot with relatively easy access for fishermen and women in the area. The surrounding area is an important wildlife corridor and also a serene environment for hikers and others who enjoy the outdoors.
LHC, Inc. is seeking to use 21 acres of land adjacent to Elbow Lake and the Clearwater for a gravel pit and asphalt plant.
(https://dnrc.mt.gov/TrustLand/subsurface-resources/Elbow-Lake-Gravel-Project) LHC cites the inconvenience and expense of using an existing pit, near Brown’s Lake, as a basis for creating this new opencut mine.
The Clearwater, just below Elbow Lake, was the second location I was taken to flyfish in Montana and has subsequently been the first place I take others learning to fish. It is a peaceful spot, and not typically crowded or overfished. It is not on a main tributary like the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, or Clark Fork and is not subject to the same levels of traffic. It also provides sufficient open spaces for newer fishermen to get comfortable with fly casting away from tricky overhangs and other snags. There are ample spots suitable for fishing in different conditions and seasons, and the fishing is typically good. Every new fisherman I have taken there has said they appreciated going to a spot where they were comfortable and caught fish.
Allowing a gravel pit and accompanying asphalt plant would ruin this tranquil yet important fishing spot. The noise, dust, traffic, and odor would not only damage the aesthetics and fishing, but very possibly the river itself, just before it feeds into the Blackfoot, and Clark Fork below.
The inconvenience and added expense of utilizing an existing, but more distant gravel pit near Brown’s Lake seems a small sacrifice in lieu of creating long-lasting, if not permanent damage to such a valuable venue for Montana outdoor life.
Montana is not a state that prioritizes convenience. Our treasured locations sometimes take hours to access and may include difficult terrain. However, the Elbow Lake area is easily accessible from Missoula and other surrounding areas, even after a day of work. Instead of preserving this location for quiet recreational use by our citizens, it would be gravel trucks and construction firms that will benefit from its convenience.
Please keep outdoorsmen and women and the great outdoors as priorities in Montana over convenience and maximized profits for contracting companies.