FWP seeks public comment on three fisheries projects
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: December 18, 2018

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on three fisheries items: the Statewide Fisheries Management Program and Guide, the Madison River and Varney Bridge Fishing Access Site temporary closure rule and Fishing Access Site/Wildlife Management Area Rule.

Statewide Fisheries Management Program and Guide

The Statewide Fisheries Management and Guide provides a framework for how programs within the fisheries division function and outlines how fisheries are managed across Montana.

The guide contains two parts: The first summarizes specific programs within the division and how those programs support fisheries activities; the second is organized by drainage and provides an overview of fisheries priorities and challenges within each drainage and outlines priorities for primary waterbodies within drainages. The guide is intended to inform fishing-regulation-setting during the four-year review and to serve as a reference to the angling and recreational public.

“This guide is a resource for anglers and others who want to know about how FWP programs help to ensure a great experience on Montana’s waters,” said FWP fisheries division administrator Eileen Ryce. “It will also outline what our challenges are to maintain and enhance those experience for the future.”

This document was previously known as the Statewide Fisheries Management Plan and was developed in 2013. The name was changed because the plan was not prescriptive in nature and doesn’t replace waterbody-specific management plans. The current guide will be in place from 2019-2027.

The Madison River and Varney Bridge FAS Temporary Closure Rule

The Montana Department of Transportation is replacing the Varney Bridge over the Madison River on Secondary 249, with work proposed to begin April 2019. MDT will require the contractor to provide safe public float passage between in-stream construction related obstructions and hazards. MDT officials have said they anticipate times when construction activities will create unsafe conditions for the public and will necessitate temporary closure the river and FAS.

Closures will be considered in the interest of public safety and if there are no other reasonable alternatives available. FWP and other regulatory and recreational interests will be informed of any closures at least 48 hours before the closure. The maximum time allowed for each instance of work requiring a temporary river closure is 48 hours.

FAS/WMA Commercial Fee Rule

This biennial rule sets the fee schedule for commercial use on Fishing Access Sites and Wildlife Management Areas. Typical uses covered by this rule include fishing guides and outfitters, other water-based service providers, watercraft livery, concessions and photography.  The proposed fee rule proposes no increases in any fees over those currently in effect.

Public comment will be accepted on all three items until 5 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2019. Comments can be submitted online at http://fwp.mt.gov, choose News then Recent Public Notices or mail to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Attn: Fisheries Division; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620.