GUEST OPINION: Montana’s unique rivers deserve unique protection

Originally published Aug 25th, 2019 on www.bozemandailychronicle.com

As the owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing, it’s easy to see how rivers impact my business and my life. They are the source of Montana’s world renown angling industry, and the life blood of iconic landscapes that drive our $7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy. As a business owner and an angler, I’m especially aware of their unique value as well as the importance of protecting them.

What may be less obvious is how rivers impact all Montanans as well as a diversity of local businesses. Clean drinking water, abundant wildlife, irrigation supply, thriving tourism and more all depend on healthy rivers.

That is why, as a business owner and a Montanan, I support the Montana Headwater Security Act. If passed, the act will create new Wild and Scenic River protections along a swath of our most important headwater rivers and streams. Some, like the rivers I’ve already mentioned, are well known. Others, like Hyalite Creek and the Boulder River, may not be household names but are no less important to our communities.

Wild and Scenic designation would protect these rivers’ free-flow (no dams), water quality (for people and wildlife alike), and unique values (from fishing to scenic views) - forever. It does all this without threatening historic water rights, recreation, private property, or taxpayer dollars. In short, the Montana Headwater Security Act is an exceptionally good idea. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

Please join me in asking our legislators to introduce the Montana Headwater Security Act. Simply call them, tell them who you are, and why they need to introduce (and pass) the act. Reach Sen. Jon Tester at 202-224-2644, Sen. Steve Daines at 202-224-2651, and Congressman Greg Gianforte at 202-225-3211.

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