Final Wild and Scenic Rivers plan meeting is Wednesday

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An angler fishes the Miidle Fork of the Flathead at West Glacier. (Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News)

Among designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in the United States, the three forks of the Flathead River offer especially remarkable wildness, scenery and recreational opportunities, according to the federal agencies who are among its stewards.

On Oct. 12, 1976, a total of 219 miles of the river’s three forks received Wild and Scenic Rivers designation.

The management goal is preserving for future generations the qualities that earned the designation 42 years ago.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System inventory notes that the forks of the Flathead River include wildlife such as grizzly bears and wolves and pass through the rugged landscapes of Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Great Bear Wilderness.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the sixth meeting held since May to prepare a Comprehensive River Management Plan for the stretches of river designated wild and scenic will be held at Flathead Valley Community College’s Arts and Technology Building.

This final meeting, which begins at 6 p.m., will focus on recreation and scenery. Anyone interested in background about the Wild and Scenic Rivers system can arrive at 5:45 p.m.

Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park are coordinating work on the comprehensive plan with a consultant.

The reaches of the Flathead River that are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System include: the North Fork, from the Canadian border downstream to the confluence with the Middle Fork; the Middle Fork, from its headwaters to the confluence with the South Fork; and, the South Fork, from its origins to the Hungry Horse Reservoir.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act became law 50 years ago. It notes that certain rivers in the United States “possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values” and shall be preserved as free-flowing rivers.

Montana has a total of 169,829 miles of rivers, of which 388 miles are designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers, according to the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers website.

Wednesday’s meeting will include presentations by speakers from the University of Montana, the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

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