High Water Prompts Closure and Limited Access to Many Western Montana River Access Sites, Council Grove State Park
By angelamontana

Posted: May 10, 2018

Due to extremely high water, flood conditions and associated public safety concerns, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) closed many fishing access sites (FASs) around west-central Montana today under the direction of the Incident Command for the Missoula flood. Closed sites along the Clark Fork River include Sha-Ron, Kelly Island (all access points), Kona, Deep Creek, and Harpers Bridge FASs, and Council Grove State Park.

FWP also closed the gates or created temporary barriers at many other FASs around the region, along the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers. FASs with limited access remain open to walk-in use, but people are urged to avoid these areas and exercise extreme caution.

The list of sites with complete closures or limited (walk-in only) access includes:

Clark Fork:
Schwartz Creek (limited access)
Turah (limited access)
Sha-Ron (closed)
Kelly Island (all access points closed)
Council Grove State Park (closed to all access)
Kona Bridge (closed)
Deep Creek (closed)
Harper’s Bridge (closed)

Bitterroot: (all have limited access)
Hannon Memorial
Darby Bridge
Angler’s Roost
Woodside Bridge
Bell Crossing
Poker Joe
Chief Looking Glass (part of campground area)
Florence Bridge (lower parking lot)

Blackfoot: (all have limited access)
Harry Morgan
Monture Creek
Clearwater Crossing
Weigh Station (no access to put in a boat; Blackfoot River closed between here and Clark Fork confluence due to construction on I-90 Bridge piers)

Warmer temperatures and increased precipitation are driving heightened streamflow and causing portions of access sites and state parks to be under water. Recreationists should watch out for dangers during spring high-water season that include:

  • heavy debris load in water that is often hidden under the surface
  • rapidly changing water levels
  • extremely cold water
  • heavy currents
  • logs that get lodged together and create a hazard
  • flooded roadways
  • bridge abutments that catch debris and create swirling waves
  • turbid, muddy water that makes other hazards in the water difficult or impossible to see
(via MT FWP; feature photo by Kurt Wilson – Missoulian)