Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is seeking comments through June 14 on a proposal to modify boating regulations on Alva, Marshall and Harpers Lakes in the Clearwater drainage.
FWP Region 2 Fisheries Manager, Pat Saffel, says that public concern regarding existing boating regulations prompted FWP to propose the new regulations. The proposed regulations look at adjusting recreational use on individual lakes but with a basin-wide perspective in mind so that there is diverse opportunity for boaters.
On Lake Alva, FWP proposes to move from no speed restriction on watercraft to a regulation that would require operation at a no-wake speed. Saffel says that the goals of the proposal are to provide a unique opportunity for those in search of a slower and quieter boating and fishing experience in the Clearwater Chain-of-Lakes and to help ensure success for the loons that nest on an island in the center of the lake by limiting their disturbance. Lake Alva’s relatively undeveloped shoreline is publicly owned.
On Lake Marshall, FWP proposes to allow electric motors only. Right now, the lake, which is part of the Marshall Wildlife Management Area (WMA), is unrestricted, but motorized use on the lake is minimal as boats must be carried in. The change is intended to correspond with the WMA’s management objective of emphasizing non-motorized watercraft, while still providing an opportunity for boaters and anglers who prefer to use a low speed motor when accessing Lake Marshall.
The final proposal affects Harpers Lake, located within the Harpers Lake Fishing Access Site (FAS) near Clearwater Junction. The lake is a popular fishing destination, and is currently closed to all motorized use. FWP proposes to allow electric motors to improve accessibility for those whose physical limitations make rowing or paddling difficult.
Saffel hopes to hear how the proposals will affect boaters’ use and enjoyment of the lakes. Public input, collected between May 9 and June 14, will be used to shape FWP’s final recommendation.
A public hearing for the proposals is planned for Wednesday, June 5, 6:30pm, at the Seeley Lake Community Center.
For details and to comment online, got to FWP’s website, fwp.mt.gov, and follow the link on the home page to “Public Notices.” A copy of the proposal is also available at the FWP Missoula office, by emailing email@example.com, or calling 406-542-5500.
Written comments can be sent by mail to: Sharon Rose, Attention: Clearwater Lakes Use Rules; 3201 Spurgin Road; Missoula, MT 59804 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FWP will accept public comment through 5pm on June 14. The FWP Commission will make a final decision on the proposal at their August meeting.