Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the Smith River State Park & River Corridor Biennial Rule that applies to Smith River float trips. The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission is considering a change that would place on hold a maximum of 9 launches per week May through July, for launches not already reserved by an outfitter, and allow authorized Smith River outfitters to reschedule their launches no less than 29 days in advance of an available date. Then, within the 28 day period, unscheduled launch dates would become available to the public via the Smith River Reservation System.
The proposed rule change is intended to provide outfitters flexibility to accommodate client needs and changing river conditions. The rule change would not result in an increase in the number of allocated outfitted launches.
(ARM Rules - 11/17/2011)
The proposed project is located on Big Spring Creek about 1 mile south of Lewistown, MT at the Brewery Flats Fishing Access Site (FAS) The project would involve removal of sediment (gravel and silt) deposited at the interface between a new re-meandered channel constructed in 2000 and a channel straightened in 1912. Due to the deposition, the channel lost about 2 feet of depth for a 100 yard linear distance. As a result, Big Spring Creek is spreading out and flooding the Brewery Flats FAS at base flow. Water is also flooding a downstream outhouse, sections of trail and vegetation. To prevent channel migration and limit further impacts to infrastructure, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) proposes to dredge the 100 yards of Big Spring Creek to the approximate depth of 2 ft that was present in 2005. FWP proposes to hire a contractor to excavate the approximately 700 cubic yards of silt and gravel with a dump truck and excavator using best management practices. Excavated material would be removed off-site and deposited in an area away from wetlands. Equipment would access the site via the trail and road system. Failure to perform remediation work may result in a channel change at the location, which would have significant adverse impacts to nearby infrastructure, including a road, waterline, trails, FAS parking and a vault latrine.
Project Type – Fisheries, Document Type – Environmental Assessment, Agency – Montana FWP, Location: Fergus County
(Restoration & Rehabilitation - 11/15/2011)
The enclosed Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to determine the feasibility of reintroducing Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) into three adjacent areas located in FWP Region 3 in south-central Montana: the Bull Mountains, Doherty Mountain, and Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. These areas were selected, in part, because their proximity to one another would allow for interchange should sheep inhabit the area. In addition, each of these areas contain suitable year-round habitat for bighorn sheep. From modeling efforts, it appears that the Lewis and Clark Caverns area and the Bull Mountains area would support an estimated population of 125-150 sheep at the 2.66 sheep/km2 density which is a density typical for bighorn sheep in similar habitats. Doherty Mountain is a relatively small area and is anticipated to support 50-75 sheep in addition to being used by sheep from the other two areas.
Reintroduction of bighorn sheep to these areas would depend on health analyses done at the time of capture, ability of each area to meet criteria for translocation as identified in the Montana Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy, and availability of sheep from other areas in Montana. If any or all of these three areas being investigated for reintroduction qualify for release of bighorns, it likely would take a few years before stocking would be completed. Translocations typically consist of 20 to 40 bighorns being released for two consecutive winters.
Prior to release, some of the animals would be marked with radio transmitters to determine future movements and success of the reintroduction. Bighorns would continue to be surveyed annually by FWP to determine population parameters.
As bighorns become established in these areas, FWP biologists would determine when their numbers should be managed through sustainable harvest and/or translocation as approved by the FWP Commission. Establishing a sheep population numerically sufficient to support recreational hunting (i.e. limited special licenses) is a primary goal of this project.
This Draft EA is available for review in Helena at FWP’s Headquarters, the State Library, and the Environmental Quality Council. It also may be obtained from the Bozeman FWP office or viewed on FWP’s website: http://www.fwp.mt.gov.
(Species Removal & Relocation - 11/09/2011)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks issued a Decision Notice to accept the donation of approximately 68 acres of private land adjoining the Calf Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 7 miles east of Hamilton in Ravalli County. The WMA addition would protect elk winter range and improve public access. (Decision Notices - 11/03/2011)