About the Max Wave
Why the name?Max Lentz was a Hellgate High School student who died in a kayaking accident in 2007 on the Gauley River in West Virginia. He was a popular kid who embodied many of the values shared by Missoulians. He was a friend to virtually anyone he met and could always be counted on for a good laugh. Max was a good friend to have and certainly won’t be forgotten by anyone who knew him.
A memorial fund was set up in Max’s name to create something to honor Max. As tragic as the accident was, many of us have found peace in the fact that he died doing what he loved. We feel that his memorial should take the form of a river enhancement project that will allow more people to enjoy our river as Max did.
How the MAX WAVE idea started
Most of us shared, in some way, the same joy for the river as Max did, so that’s where our brainstorming began. As Max’s friends say, “We want to do something bigger than just a memorial plaque for our friend, something that can be enjoyed by everyone and will benefit the entire community.”
We unanimously decided on a river enhancement project focusing on river recreation, river safety and river access along the Clark Fork River through downtown Missoula. Our potential sites for the project included the Missoula Irrigation District weir (MID), located at the mouth of Hellgate Canyon adjacent to the University of Montana and the Flynn-Lowney Diversion weir located across from the Osprey Stadium. Both sites are hazardous to river floaters, challenging for aquatic life and serve no other function besides diverting water for irrigation purposes. Also included was the desire to increase river access sites throughout the downtown stretch of river.
As the project moved forward and a broad plan with various options arose we formulated a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee helped guide and facilitate the planning process for this project. Members of the committee contacted people with the necessary knowledge, connections and competence who would need to be involved if such a project were to succeed. It was a slow way to go about starting the project but ensured better success down the road.
When we realized this project could really happen we began raising money. We first decided on a project name, “The Max”, the name is now The Max Wave. To start off the fundraising we designed a logo, made stickers, produced t-shirts and created an aerial map of the Clark Fork River showing our specific potential sites.
With our arsenal of promotional materials The Max began hitting up Missoula at local events, creating awareness and generating excitement. The first big community event for The Max was held in May 2009, where there was an art exhibit, silent auction, movie premier, food and beer all to bring in money for The Max. The event as a whole was meant to stir conversation about the project and inform as many people as possible about The Max Wave. This set the agenda for the rest of the summer. Early in the winter of 2009-2010, after evaluating the two potential sites for The Max Wave, is was decided to focus on the Flynn–Lowney Diversion.