I want to thank U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for sponsoring the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act that will designate 336 miles on 17 separate segments of Montana’s finest waterways as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
As a fisherman, former river ranger and someone who loves sitting beside free-flowing streams, I can attest that this legislation is both timely, needed and a welcome proposal.
The Wild and Scenic River Acts prohibits degradation of streams and rivers by dams, flood plain development and water diversions.
The Montana Headwaters Legacy Act is one way to give back to our rivers and ensures that our aquatic ecosystems, and the wildlife/fisheries that depend on clean water, will continue to be part of Montana’s wild heritage into the future.
The legislation includes such iconic Montana waters found on the Gallatin Custer National Forest as the Gallatin River, West Boulder River, Boulder River, the Upper Yellowstone River (Yankee Jim Canyon), two portions of the Madison River, Stillwater and West Fork Stillwater Rivers, Hyalite Creek, Taylor Fork, Bear Creek (by Jardine) Hellroaring Creek, Slough Creek, and Rock Creek and its tributaries by Red Lodge.
Rivers found on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest included in the legislation are the Smith River and one of its main tributaries, Tenderfoot Creek.
Groups like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and American Rivers deserve credit for compiling and advocating for these streams.
Free-flowing rivers are part of Montana’s patrimony. Tester’s Montana Headwaters Legacy Act legislation deserves our full support.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has published a number of books on fire ecology. He divides his time between Livingston and Bend, Oregon.
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