Daily DrakeYellow_Oil

In the unlikely event you missed it, an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured over the holiday weekend spilling 42,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River, 10 miles west of Billings. Initial findings had the oil traveling 10 miles down river, but newer reports show the slick extending more than 150 miles, pushing toward North Dakota.

Although a full environmental assessment could be months in the making, implications for the fishery below Billings are unnerving, at best.

Yellowstone Angler shop manager James Anderson says: “The raging high waters of the Yellowstone are both a blessing and a curse in this case. The good news is the heavy flows are diluting the spill and thus reducing the immediate damage to the environment and wildlife within 10 miles of the site. The bad news, aside from the polluted water heading into North Dakota and beyond, is that it has made clean-up and repair efforts difficult.

“While there is no true good news about an oil spill on the Yellowstone, Exxon has been able to shut down the ruptured pipeline. While we’re certainly concerned for the birds, bass, big carp, and channel catfish, at least the spill is located 50 miles downriver from prime trout water.” 

Anderson and his guiders periodically float as low as Columbus (27 miles upstream from Laurel), but trout populations decline quickly there due to warmer water temperatures. The smallmouth fishery begins approximately 50 miles below the spill.

According to Exxon, 150 people are directly involved in the clean-up effort, with more than 48,000 feet of absorbent boom and 2,200 feet of containment boom deployed. Officials say the break could be related to highwater levels.

More updates from treehugger.com after the jump.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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