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RIVER NOTES
Montanans for Healthy Rivers newsletter

December 2016 Vol.3 No.5
Free-Flowing & Clean
As air temperatures dropped into the negative twenties across Montana last week, we all felt the reality of winter pressing into our existence. What was initially a slow winter to arrive has now unmistakably settled in. Recent storms have delivered bounteous snow to our mountains and valleys. Many of our rivers rest in temporary suspension as near-surface water accumulates into ice, resembling the work of a fine artist.   Fortunately, this time of year the darkness and cold days of winter are assuaged by holiday merriment, year-end celebrations and family reunions. In that light, we’ve carved out some space to reflect on the ups and downs of Montana’s river culture in 2016.

A quick rewind of the year’s notable events across Montana’s rivers:
Montana celebrated the 40th anniversary of the state’s one and only Wild & Scenic Rivers bill with excellent press coverage from major state newspapers; spring runoff came early after a mediocre winter deposited a marginal snowpack; Hoot owl restrictions placed on many major rivers across Montana; Governor Bullock issued a state of emergency as nearly 200 miles of the upper Yellowstone River were closed to all forms of recreation after an invasive parasite outbreak killed tens of thousands of native whitefish; legendary biologist and co-author of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, John Craighead died at the age of 100 at his home in Missoula; Montana Department of Environmental Quality sent Tintina Mining Company and Crevice Mining Group back to the drawing board on two proposed copper and gold mines that could impact the health of the Smith and Yellowstone Rivers; the Missoulian's editorial board endorses MHR's citizen proposal to designate more Wild & Scenic Rivers throughout Montana on public lands; the importance of clean water and healthy rivers was brought to national attention by Native American protesters, joined by many Montanans, at the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
Thanks is in Order!
Many heeded our request to call U.S. Senators and Congressmen across the country and ask them to support the passage of the East Rosebud Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Thank you for your support! Although Congress failed to pass this highly supported Montana river bill before the close of the year, we are in a strong position to pass this legislation in the next Congress due to your advocacy. Montana’s Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines continue to be champions for protecting East Rosebud Creek. Both Senators have committed to reintroducing the bill in 2017.
Forest Planning
MHR is currently engaged in three separate Forest Plan Revisions across Montana with the goal of ensuring that our public lands rivers are well-managed into the future. One of the ways that we do this is by recommending streams to be managed as eligible under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In order to be considered eligible, a stream must be (1) free flowing and (2) have at least one outstanding value. Eligible streams are given administrative protections by the land management agency that maintain their free-flowing character and outstanding values.
 
The Flathead National Forest (FNF) is nearing the end of its plan revision process and is reviewing comments submitted on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The FNF will release a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (ROD) in May 2017. The Forest has so far found 23 streams encompassing 278 stream miles to be eligible for Wild and Scenic protections, and we expect those numbers to increase slightly in the FEIS and ROD. For more information, click here.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest (H-LCNF) is about halfway through its plan revision, recently releasing its Draft Proposed Action which lists 40 streams encompassing 342 stream miles as eligible under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Comments on the proposed action are due March 28, 2017. Email comments of support to:
hlcplanrevision@fs.fed.us  For more information and a list of upcoming community meetings, click here.
 
The Custer Gallatin National Forest (CGNF) just started its Forest Plan Revision and released its Assessment of Existing Conditions. Comments on the assessment are due January 6, 2017, and should be emailed to: cgplanrevision@fs.fed.us  For more information, click here.
Upcoming Events
Public Lands & Waters Rally at the State Capitol Rotunda  - January 30  Helena, MT
     More Details TBA!
Quiet Waters Initiative
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a partner organization of Montanans for Healthy Rivers, is suggesting modest regulations to retain the pristine habitat found on the state's treasured waterways. In the spring of 2016, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers submitted a petition, known as the Quiet Water’s Initiative, to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. Beginning in January 2017, public hearings will be held across the state to gather more information and educate the public about this initiative. To learn more about the Quiet Waters proposed rule, visit the MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks website.


Quiet Waters Initiative Public Hearings

January 3 at 6 p.m at the FWP Region 1 office, 490 N. Meridian Road, Kalispell

January 4 at 6 p.m. at the FWP Region 2 office, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula

January 5 at 6 p.m. at the FWP Region 3 office, 1400 S. 19th Ave., Bozeman

January 9 at 6 p.m. at the FWP Region 5 office, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings

January 11 at 6 p.m. at the FWP Region 4 office, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls

January 11 at 6 p.m. at the FWP headquarters office, 1420 E. 6th Ave., Helena


 
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"Men travel far to see a city, but few seem curious about a river. Every rivers has, nevertheless, its individuality, its great silent interest. Every river has, moreover, its influence over the people who pass their lives within sight of its waters." — H.S. Merriman, The Sowers
Copyright © 2016 Montanans for Healthy Rivers, All rights reserved.

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