Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking comments on a proposal to modify existing boating regulations on portions of the Bitterroot and Clark Fork Rivers near Missoula and a small section of the Blackfoot just upstream from the former Milltown Dam site.
FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager, Pat Saffel, says that the proposed changes are designed to address public safety concerns, social conflicts and a few outdated regulations pertaining to the Milltown area.
“We’re seeing an increase in river use in the Missoula area and a need to address the concerns associated with fast-moving watercraft operating in proximity to others,” Saffel says. “At the same time, we’re focused on a solution that provides recreation opportunities for all types of river users in the Missoula area.”
The proposal calls for establishing some additional sections of river in the Missoula vicinity that would be either closed to motorized watercraft or limited by horsepower.
On the Clark Fork, the proposal affects the river from just upstream of the old Milltown Dam site to the I-90 bridge east of Ninemile Creek. On The Bitterroot, most proposed changes apply to the section from Florence Bridge to the confluence with the Clark Fork. And, on the Blackfoot, the affected section of river is that which used to be a part of the Milltown Reservoir before the removal of the dam.
The proposal calls for retaining some motorized opportunities on these affected stretches of river while restricting use in areas where the most social and public safety concerns exist.
A public hearing for the proposal will be held on Thursday, June 16, 6 p.m., at the Missoula FWP office, 3201 Spurgin Road.
For details, and to comment on the proposed changes online, got to FWP’s website, fwp.mt.gov, and follow the link on the home page to "Proposed Region 2 Boating Regulations.” A copy of the proposal and associated Environmental Assessment (EA) are also available at the FWP Missoula office, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 406-542-5500.
Written comments can be sent by mail to: Sharon Rose, Attention: Boating Regulation Changes, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT 59804 or emailed to email@example.com. FWP will accept public comment through June 27. The FWP Commission will review the public comments and make a final decision on the proposal at their August meeting.