Montana Headwaters Legacy Act Sponsored by Senator Tester

Senator Jon Tester, from the TroutChasers Fly Fishing Lodge in Gallatin Gateway, Montana, announced his intention to introduce the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act into the next session of the U.S. Congress.

More than 50 years ago, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established, and it has provided conservation protections for more than 225 rivers throughout the U.S. 

This new piece of national legislation would afford additional protection to 17 rivers and 336 miles flowing through the Custer-Gallatin and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests, including key stretches of the Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison, and Smith rivers. It is the most significant Wild and Scenic designation in nearly 45 years, and it would be a major step toward safeguarding the resources that Montana outfitters and outdoor recreation businesses depend upon for their livelihood.

Rivers and creeks proposed in the Upper Yellowstone watershed are:

  • Bear Creek from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary to its confluence with the Yellowstone River.
  • The Boulder River from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest Boundary at Natural Bridge Falls.
  • Lake Fork of Rock Creek from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness downstream to the wilderness boundary.
  • Rock Creek from the Montana-Wyoming border to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest boundary.
  • Hellroaring Creek from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest boundary.
  • Slough Creek from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest boundary.
  • Stillwater River from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness downstream to the wilderness boundary.
  • West Boulder River from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness downstream to the wilderness boundary.
  • West Stillwater River from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness downstream to the wilderness boundary.
  • West Fork Rock Creek from the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest boundary.
  • The Yellowstone River from the national park boundary in Gardiner downstream to the Carbella Fishing Access Site.

Rivers and creeks proposed in the Missouri Headwaters Region are:

  • The Gallatin River from the national park boundary downstream to the confluence with Spanish Creek.
  • Hyalite Creek from its source in the Gallatin Range to Hyalite Reservoir.
  • Upper Madison River from 2,000 feet downstream of the Hebgen Lake Dam to the confluence with the West Fork of the Madison River.
  • Beartrap Canyon on the Madison River from 800 feet downstream of Madison Dam to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness boundary.
  • Taylor Creek from the Lee Metcalf Wilderness boundary to the confluence with the Gallatin River.

River and creeks proposed in the Upper Missouri River watershed.

  • Smith River from the confluence with Tenderfoot Creek to the confluence with Deep Creek.
  • Tenderfoot Creek from the confluence with Iron Mines Creek to the confluence with the Smith River.

Rivers and creeks proposed in the Missouri Headwaters Region are:

  • The Gallatin River from the national park boundary downstream to the confluence with Spanish Creek.
  • Hyalite Creek from its source in the Gallatin Range to Hyalite Reservoir.
  • Upper Madison River from 2,000 feet downstream of the Hebgen Lake Dam to the confluence with the West Fork of the Madison River.
  • Beartrap Canyon on the Madison River from 800 feet downstream of Madison Dam to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness boundary.
  • Taylor Creek from the Lee Metcalf Wilderness boundary to the confluence with the Gallatin River.

River and creeks proposed in the Upper Missouri River watershed.

  • Smith River from the confluence with Tenderfoot Creek to the confluence with Deep Creek.
  • Tenderfoot Creek from the confluence with Iron Mines Creek to the confluence with the Smith River.

Testser concluded his announcement by acknowledging the process to pass this legislation could be challenging at times, but, he is confident that the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act will reach the finish line.

“If we all stay focused on what we want to accomplish here, we can get her done,” Tester said.

For more information about how you can support the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, please visit www.healthyriversmt.org

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