For the past two years, Sen. Jon Tester has led an effort to extend federal protections to some of the most loved free-flowing rivers and streams in Montana.
If signed into law, Tester’s “Montana Headwaters Legacy Act” would add segments of the Yellowstone, Madison and Gallatin rivers to the nation’s list of Wild and Scenic Rivers. Additionally, portions of 17 smaller streams including the Smith River, Hyalite Creek and the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone would gain federal protections prohibiting dam construction on their protected segments and would limit new development, grazing and timber harvests within a quarter mile of their shores. Such a designation would also place limitations on the size of float trips going down a river at any one time, both for the numbers of boats and times between trip launches.
In total, the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act would expand federal protections to 377 additional miles of rivers and streams, nearly doubling the total already protected in Montana under federal law.
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