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For over a decade, I have run a small nonprofit in Bozeman that provides opportunities for self-discovery, growth, learning, and adventure for young people through whitewater kayaking experiences. For a program focusing on youth whitewater kayaking programs, we often discuss the reality that it is not really about the kayaking. Kayaks are simply the vehicles we use to teach young people about clear communication, trust, meeting challenges, and their relationship to our environment. Montana’s free-flowing rivers are our indispensable classrooms.  

As such, I was excited when Sen. Tester introduced the Montana Headwaters Security Act last summer, making real the possibility of seeing over 300 miles of Montana rivers gain Wild and Scenic designation by incorporating 17 new river sections into the national system. This includes rivers like the upper Gallatin, upper Madison, and upper Yellowstone. This prestigious designation would help maintain the pristine and unique characteristics of these rivers. I encourage Sen. Tester, Sen. Daines, and Rep. Rosendale to reintroduce the MHLA in this legislative session.

Whether you appreciate the quiet scenery while fishing the Boulder or enjoy charging through the rapids of the Gallatin, from watershed to watershed these free-flowing rivers  support an irreplaceable way of life and strong outdoor recreation economy. Wild and Scenic River designations will protect our quality of life, our businesses, and ensure these experiences are available to future generations. For me, it protects the smiles and the sense of accomplishment we observe in our young participants as waves crash across the decks of their colorful kayaks and they successfully navigate the whitewater of southwest Montana.

Dave Zinn


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