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New Boating Regulations in Place for Missoula Area Rivers

Recreation - Region 2

Monday, November 28, 2011

Changes to motorized boating regulations went into effect Nov. 26 for some Missoula area rivers, including parts of the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot.

On the Clark Fork, the new regulations prohibit motorized travel year-round through Missoula, from the old Milltown Reservoir area to just above the confluence with the Bitterroot on the western edge of town.

Other major changes affect the previously unrestricted stretch of river from Kelly Island Fishing Access Site (FAS) to Harper’s Bridge FAS. Under the new regulations, motorized travel, except personal water craft (PWC), is allowed only from May 1-June 15 and 20 horsepower travel is allowed Oct 1-Jan. 31. The rest of the year is float-only.

Harper’s Bridge to St. John’s FAS, also previously unrestricted, is now open to motorized watercraft (except PWC) from Oct. 1-June 15 and to 20hp or less June 16-Sept. 30. The regulations remain the same as they have been below St. John’s.

On the Bitterroot, the new regulations prohibit the spring unrestricted motorized travel that once was allowed below Florence Bridge. Under the new regulations, only 20 horsepower or less travel is allowed from Oct. 1-Jan. 31 for the entire river, and the rest of the year is float only. On the Blackfoot, the former Milltown Reservoir area is now closed to motorized watercraft.

FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager, Pat Saffel, stresses that this is just a summary of the recent changes, and boaters should review the new regulations and associated map on the FWP website.

“The map is a great way to see what the new regulations are, broken out by each stretch of river, and we’ll also be posting our access sites with information on the changes” Saffel says. “It will probably be a few more months before most boaters hit the water again, but before you do, you can download a copy of the map to familiarize yourself with the changes.”

To find the map, go to fwp.mt.gov and follow links to “Recreation,” then “Rules and Regulations” and “Boating.” Boaters can also check an insert in the 2012 Montana Boating Regulations that outlines the new regulations, or contact the Missoula FWP office at (406) 542-5500.

Saffel says that the new regulations were proposed to address public safety concerns, social conflicts and a few outdated regulations pertaining to the Milltown area. The FWP Commission adopted the changes at their October 13 meeting following a public process on the proposal.