Drought & Fire - Region 3
Monday, August 06, 2012
Given a considerable decline in Jefferson River streamflow over the past week, the Jefferson River Watershed Council is alerting anglers and water users that conservation measures may be forthcoming. Possible measures are detailed in the Jefferson River Drought Management Plan (created in 1999 to assist water users and anglers in dealing with severe water shortages).
Specifically, the Jefferson River Drought Plan calls for action based on two things: streamflow at the Twin Bridges gauging station (operated by the US Geological Survey), and water temperature. Within those criteria, there are several trigger points that determine conservation steps.
When flow drops below 600 cfs, water users and anglers are notified of a potential water shortage, and voluntary conservation measures are encouraged. This trigger was met on July 31. If flow continues to drop to 280 cfs at Twin Bridges, weekly meetings with water users will be initiated to attempt to stabilize stream flow. At that point, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will determine whether it is necessary to implement mandatory fishing restrictions to decrease angler-caused mortality of fish already stressed by drought.
The Plan allows for afternoon fishing closures if temperatures exceed 73 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days. Fortunately, Jefferson River water temperature has remained below the 73 degree trigger and the fishing restrictions have not been needed so far this year. Anglers and fishing outfitters should be prepared if continued warm conditions result in implementing this restriction in the near future.
For more detailed information on current drought restrictions and closures, go to fwp.mt.gov.