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A few months ago, I was fortunate to join a group of fellow Montanans on a trip to Washington, DC to meet with our congressional delegation about the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act (MHLA).

The MHLA is a made-in-Montana bill that would add 20 rivers and streams in the upper Missouri and Yellowstone river systems to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Wild and Scenic designation is the highest level of protection rivers can get in the US. It protects rivers from any federally permitted projects that would harm their free-flow, clean water, and outstandingly remarkable values. The idea for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was born right here in Montana, and we currently have five Wild and Scenic Rivers totaling about 388 river miles.

Among the waterways that the MHLA would protect are the Gallatin River and the Taylor Fork, both of which are heavily used and loved by members of the Big Sky community who fish, paddle and hike along them. Other notable rivers that would gain protection include the Boulder, West Boulder, Madison, Smith, Stillwater, and Yellowstone.

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Brad Niva is the Executive Director of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce.