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RIVER NOTES
 Montanans for Healthy Rivers Newsletter
April 2020
Photo by Courtney Sanders, Bozeman MT
Free Flowing & Clean
If this moment in time was business as usual, we’d be kicking off the fifth anniversary of the Wild Rivers Film Tour scheduled to showcase in eight communities across Montana. In normal times we’d be congregating as a river community and promoting the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act. If this moment had any quality of normal, our outfitters and guides would be booking river trips by the hour, hiring new staff and planning a bustling commercial river season ahead. The rest of us might be sipping beers at the local brewery, making plans to connect at a nearby fishing access site, chatting about who drew a permit on a coveted western river, and convening as friends drawn together by a common passion for wild rivers.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered the meaning of normal in our lives. Apart from our community heroes like health care workers, grocers, delivery workers and others who on a daily basis put themselves in harm’s way of the novel coronavirus to keep our essential systems functioning, most of us are sticking close to home. Lots of folks have lost jobs, lost income, or are balancing at-home child-care with getting work done. Many are sick with the virus; some are literally dying.

During this unprecedented time, Montanans are realizing what is most important to us – family, health, and the great outdoors. Empathetic to the health benefits associated with connecting to our rivers and public lands, Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock understandingly exempted outdoor recreation from Montana’s stay-at-home order. Let’s face it, as Montanans we are privileged to have the access to wild rivers that afford us the opportunity to reclaim some sense of sanity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Healthy rivers are important. That is why our efforts within the Montanans for Healthy Rivers coalition to conserve our rivers continues. In recent months we have pivoted our attention to focusing on the next phase of Wild and Scenic Rivers protections with the draft Montana Headwaters Legacy Act. Focused on streams flowing through public lands in the Yellowstone and Missouri headwaters, the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act will protect 17 of Montana’s most storied rivers totaling 336 stream miles by adding them to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This will ensure that they remain clean and free-flowing in perpetuity.

While we’re working hard to get this bill introduced in Congress, please do your part to keep you and your family safe and healthy. Continue to find solace in your river outings, but please do so in a responsible way that adheres to social distancing. And if you have the time, drop us a line to tell us how rivers are helping you cope through the pandemic. We look forward to hearing from you!
Go to the River in your Mind 
If you are lucky enough to find yourself with spare time while sheltering, there are ways you can help Montana's rivers right at home, right now. Please take 30 minutes to write a letter to the editor, explaining why you want to see the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act introduced and passed. Now, more than ever, our protected public spaces are critical to the quality of life in Montana. As our communities begin to rebuild in the coming months, river access and protection will be essential to supporting and rejuvenating the outdoor recreation economy. Need some guidance on writing an LTE?
We've got you covered.  
River Ramble
We miss our friends and are trying to find ways to connect while social distancing. Join us every Wednesday at 5pm for a live chat about the rivers we love. For our first week, Kascie will be interviewing fly fishing guide extraordinaire, Hilary Hutcheson in Columbia Falls, MT. Crack a beer or a beverage of your choice and chime in while we talk shop about current river issues. 
Click here to connect to our Facebook live page
Responsible River Recreation
(COVID-19 Clause)

We are in a pandemic. Practice social distancing. Montana's Governor Steve Bullock issued a stay-at-home order through April 10th and its likely to be extended. While safe outdoor recreation is exempted, it is the Governor's intent (and ours) to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Even on the river we have to change our habits. Please practice tips like not carpooling or sharing drift boats with folks outside your home, and not congregating in masses at fishing access sites. High fives, knuckles, stories and beer circles need to wait for another time. We know it's hard. It doesn't feel like the Montana way. But if we don't adhere to these guidelines we risk spreading the virus and losing our ability to recreate outside on public lands during this time.
Riffle 

“The Tenderfoot is a great backcountry trout fishery. It is one of my favorite places to backpack with a tenkara rod. The river’s pristine qualities and roadless surroundings in the Little Belt Mountains make it a perfect candidate for Wild and Scenic River designation.”

- Steve Platt, Helena MT
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