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Montana Brand Strong Despite Yellowstone River Fish Kill, Officials Say

After thousands of fish deaths forced an unprecedented closure of 180 miles of the Yellowstone River last week, an official with Montana's Office of Tourism says the state’s branding as a place of pristine landscape is still strong.

The Montana Office of Tourism sales pitch often begins with the phrase, “spectacular unspoiled nature."

National headlines have painted a different image of Montana since last Friday, with photos of belly-up mountain whitefish, which wildlife officials say could be dying in the tens of thousands in the Yellowstone River.

Daniel Iverson with the Office of Tourism:

"A lot of times it's wildfires in the summer, and certainly sometimes in the national press those types of events gets exaggerated, they’ll say all of Montana is on fire. So our job is to come in and say, no its really not, it's a big, big state there is still plenty to do. And that is what we try to do in these situations."

The 180-mile section of river infected by a fish killing parasite is closed to all recreational activity until further notice.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced the river closure just under a week before visitors celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service.

Yellowstone National Park officials have made a point of clarifying that the fish kill is not impacting the park, and the Yellowstone River is still open there.

After the announcement of the river closure Governor Steve Bullock said a threat to the health of Montana’s fish population is a threat to Montana's entire outdoor economy. 

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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