Friday, December 19, 1997Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is now accepting public comments on an Environmental Assessment for a proposed project at the Bell Crossing Fishing Access Site on the Bitterroot River two miles north of Victor.
The proposal calls for rerouting the existing gravel road and upgrading the parking lots at the FAS, which has traditionally received heavy recreational use, particularly during the summer months when fishing and rafting are at their peaks. The project would provide a more practical and convenient area for users to unload their rafts or boats; current facilities are undesignated, crude and quite congested. The proposed layout will keep traffic flowing one-way on a newly graveled road system.
In addition, users are currently parking vehicles at the end of a narrow dead-end trail, making it extremely difficult for other users to access the site at all. The proposed project would control vehicular parking and traffic flow through signing on the road, the unloading area and parking areas. Increased parking spaces also will be added.
A secondary benefit of rerouting the existing road would be a reduction in the volume of illegally dumped garbage and the number of unauthorized parties that occur at this site. The current road's layout provides an almost ideal location for these activities to occur; approximately half of the road (the half being proposed to return to a near natural condition) is not visible from the main highway due to the presence of a stand of cottonwood trees. The rerouting and relocation of a portion of the road system would place the entire road system in complete view from the main highway, reducing the likelihood of partying, vandalism and garbage dumping.
An area along the river's edge will be designated as a launch area, although no improvements will be made due to geographic limitations at the site. The banks on both sides of the launch area will be stabilized with large rocks and root wads.
Review copies of the EA are available at FWP's Region 2 office, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT 59804. Public comments are being accepted through January 22, 1998.