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Know the West

Yellowtail throws in his hat

  Yellowtail throws in his hat

Environmentalists in Montana have a congressional candidate they can enthusiastically support to fill the seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Pat Williams.

He is Bill Yellowtail, 48, who quit his job March 18 as regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver. Three other Democrats, Mignon Waterman, Leo Hudatz and Larry Jent, are also vying for the state's one House seat. Williams announced Jan. 13 that he would not seek a 10th term in Congress (HCN, 2/5/96).

Reaction to Yellowtail's announcement has been positive. "Bill has an excellent environmental record," says Tom France of the National Wildlife Federation. "He was a strong voice for the environment in the Montana State Legislature and has been a good EPA administrator."

Yellowtail, from Wyola, Mont., is of Crow Indian and Scottish-Irish descent. A Dartmouth College graduate, he served in the Montana Senate from 1985-1993, when President Clinton appointed him to the EPA.

The leading contender for the Republican nomination, according to a late winter poll, is rancher Alan Mikkelson. His communication director, Bowen Greenwood, describes him as a "strong environmentalist who also understands that the economics of Montana require a wise use of natural resources."

An example of Mikkelson's environmental priorities: Under his leadership, a Mission Valley irrigation cooperative has repeatedly sued the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes over a court decision that prohibits irrigators from completely draining streams in late summer and killing off the Flathead Indian Reservation fisheries.

*Mark Matthews