The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking comment on tentatively approved rules that address new commercial use on the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers.
The rules are in response to Gov. Marc Racicots veto of Senate Bill 445, which sought to limit the use of the Beaverhead and Big Hole rivers by fishing outfitters. At the time of his veto, Racicot said the bill was laudable but that amendments added in the final hours of the legislative session posed significant legal and implementation problems, and he advised the FWP Commission to address the apparent conflict issues on the rivers via its rules process.
The tentative rules would:
* restrict new commercial use on the two rivers until the commission adopts a recreational management plan.
* until the management plan is in place, distribute outfitter use based on historical use with an exception for new outfitters who have the Big Hole and Beaverhead rivers in their operating plans.
* direct FWP to facilitate a public process to address the rivers conflict issues.
* require the commission to consider recommendations that emerge from the public process before developing a recreation management plan.
* prohibit outfitters from launching boats on Saturdays on the upper Beaverhead River between Clark Canyon Dam to Henneberry Fishing Access Site and on the Big Hole River between Jerry Creek and the Salmonfly Fishing Access Site River.
The rules would be in effect from the date of approval through June 1, 2001. However, if the Legislature overrides Gov. Racicots veto of SB 445, the FWP Commission will not approve these rules. Comments will be accepted through June 11, and should be addressed to Fisheries Division, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.