Over the next few months, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is requesting public comment on boating-use issues on Montana waters.
In the past, the FWP Commission's authority for developing regulations on waters was limited to public safety and the protection of property. Under House Bill 626, passed by the 1999 Montana Legislature, the Commission's authority expanded to resolution of social conflicts between water users.
The Commission has called for scoping of issues related to the use of motorized watercraft on state waters and potential ways to resolve those issues. The purpose of this scoping is to provide the Commission with information they can use to decide the nature of conflicts and possible methods to resolve those conflicts. The Commission will examine the issue on all Montana waters, rather than on a case by case basis.
A number of citizen advisory groups in northwest Montana have examined the issue over the years and suggested a host of solutions. Most prominent among the solutions are implementing no-wake speeds a certain distance from shore; and restricting motorized craft based on the size of the water body.
FWP is asking that interested members of the public stop by or call to pick up a copy of a questionnaire regarding this issue. A special newsletter is available describing the process, past work on conflict resolution, and summaries of actions taken in other states.
A series of open houses will be conducted to collect additional comment. The public is invited to attend anytime between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to ask questions and express their views. FWP staff will be on hand to listen and provide information. In northwest Montana, these open houses are scheduled as follows:
* February 10, 4-8 p.m.: Kalispell, FWP Headquarters, North Meridian Road
* February 10, 4-8 p.m.: Polson, City Library Public Meeting Room, 2 1st Ave. E.
* February 10, 4-8 p.m.: Libby, City Hall, 925 E. Spruce St.
Detailed information will be available at each open house. For more information, or for a copy of the special edition newsletter on motorized watercraft, call FWP at 406-752-5501.