June 11, 2015
Betty Vanderwielen, Seeley Swan Pathfinder
SEELEY LAKE – What rivers do you want to see designated Wild & Scenic Rivers and why? That was the question posed by three representatives from Montanans for Healthy Rivers (MHR) at the Seeley Lake Community Hall June 2.
Facilitating the discussion were Mike Fiebig and Kascie Herron who work for American Rivers (AR), and Kevin Colburn who works for American Whitewater (AW). AR and AW are national non-profit organizations, each focused on specific conservation efforts. MHR itself is neither a government agency nor a non-profit group. It is a coalition of hunting, fishing, outfitting, recreation and other related businesses, private individuals and individuals from various conservation organizations who have committed their efforts to keeping Montana rivers clean and free-flowing.
Herron said, “The reason (MHR) came together as a group was that we realized there wasn’t anyone taking a pro-active approach to river conservation in Montana.”
Over a five-year period, coalition members consulted with hundreds of landowners, business owners, conservation groups, Forest Service representatives and concerned individuals across Montana. One of the conclusions that came out of the discussions was the need to protect certain waterways by officially designating them Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Colburn noted that Montana currently has four National Wild and Scenic Rivers: the North, Middle, and South Forks of the Flathead River and a segment of the Missouri River. All were designated in 1976. No new rivers have been designated since then.
Colburn said, “What’s interesting to note is that since 2009 Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington – all of our surrounding states except North Dakota – have all designated hundreds of miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. It’s a very common part of the ethos right now of how people are thinking about conservation and how people are thinking about the value of water. They are looking to these Wild and Scenic campaigns [for protection]. We [Montanans] are lagging very far behind.”
Continue reading the article here: Seeley Pathfinder Wild & Scenic