77-5-301. Findings and purpose. (1) The legislature finds that the streamside management zone:
(a) acts as an effective sediment filter to maintain water quality;
(b) provides shade to regulate stream temperature;
(c) supports diverse and productive aquatic and terrestrial riparian habitats;
(d) protects the stream channel and banks;
(e) provides large, woody debris that is eventually recruited into a stream to maintain riffles, pools, and other elements of channel structure; and
(f) promotes flood plain stability.
(2) The legislature further finds that maintaining the integrity of forest streams is crucial to the quality and quantity of water available to Montanans for domestic, agricultural, industrial, and recreational use.
(3) The legislature further finds that forest streams are highly susceptible to impacts from land development and that in many cases forest practices in streamside zones in Montana are causing excessive and unnecessary damage to the banks, beds, and protective vegetation of forest streams.
(4) The legislature further finds that, through careful management in the streamside zone, owners and operators can achieve timber harvest goals without sacrificing water quality or impairing the beneficial uses of the water.
(5) The purposes of this part are:
(a) to protect the legitimate public interest in the quality and quantity of forest waters;
(b) to provide for standards, oversight, rehabilitation, and penalties to ensure that forest practices are conducted in a manner that conserves the integrity of Montana's streamside zones;
(c) to provide guidelines for the management of wildlife habitat in streamside zones; and
(d) to allow operators necessary flexibility to use practices appropriate to site-specific conditions in the streamside management zone.