Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is building on previous planning efforts to create an updated, comprehensive roadmap for managing recreational use on FWP managed lands in the Fish Creek Watershed. The Fish Creek area is home to important fish and wildlife habit, historic and cultural resources, local communities and private landowners, and unique opportunities for outdoor recreation. This will all be part of what the planning process and final planning document considers.
Located approximately 40 miles west of Missoula and 25 miles east of Superior, FWP's key Fish Creek sites include Fish Creek State Park, Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Big Pine Fishing Access Site (FAS), and Forks FAS. The Alberton Gorge, which offers opportunities for water access and recreation, is also located in the area. The area also includes other state and federal public lands.
The Fish Creek planning effort is using an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to consider recreation interests and fish, wildlife, historic, and cultural resources at FWP-managed lands throughout the watershed, including the area’s fishing access sites, the Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area, and Fish Creek State Park. As part of promoting a coordinated, seamless recreation experience on a multi-jurisdictional landscape, FWP is working closely with the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) in this planning process.
Planning began in July and August of 2022 with outreach to stakeholders invested in the future of the Fish Creek Watershed.
The planning team hosted workshops, a field trip, and interviews with stakeholders representing diverse perspectives including hunters, anglers, hikers, floaters, mountain bikers, motorized recreation users, landowners, businesses, outfitters, county government, state and federal agencies, conservation groups, wildlife interests, and access advocates.
The planning team also solicited input through a public survey that resulted in over 675 responses. All of this input is informing the development of proposed strategies for managing recreational use in the area. Check back here for a summary of the public survey soon.
Next, we’ll be hosting public meetings that will further help us develop a draft plan for the area. Take a peek at the planning process timeline (PDF).
Public participation is integral to developing a vision for the watershed and the best plan possible.
There will be several opportunities to be involved in 2023, including public meetings and a chance to review a draft planning document early this spring.
These meetings are a chance to share proposed strategies for managing recreation in the Fish Creek Area and to get your input:
The planning team will then compile a draft planning document and welcome additional input from the public via a 30-day comment period sometime this spring. Check back for updates.
Our efforts to engage stakeholders and the public will not end with a planning document. We look forward to fostering ongoing opportunities for engagement, input, plan refinement and partnership with the public when we begin implementing the final planning document in the summer of 2023.
FWP Region 2 supervisor