October 5, 2020

Attempts to Address Over-Crowding on the Madison River are Underway as Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Open Public Comment Period

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator

On October 20, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold a virtual public hearing to consider the proposed administrative rules and environmental assessment regarding recreation management on the Madison River to address over-crowding.

The Madison River is an iconic fishing destination for trout anglers worldwide. The popularity of this fishery is documented through Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) estimates on angling pressure, which indicate that the Madison River is one of the most heavily fished rivers in Montana. Due to perceived lack of initiative to address over-crowding on the river, the Fish and Wildlife Commission received two petitions for rule making, one from the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana and the other from a collection of sportsmen associations including the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Skyline Sportsmen Association and the Anaconda Sportsmen Association.

“The Fish and Wildlife Commission considered the petitions and ultimately passed the proposed rule language for administrative rulemaking. The administrative rulemaking process for both petitions and the Environmental Assessment (EA) are being conducted simultaneously. The goal of the EA is to consider the proposed administrative rule language as it relates to the Madison River Recreation Goal of managing recreation use on the Madison River in a manner that: 1) ensures long‐term health and sustainability of the fisheries; 2) diversifies angling opportunity while reducing conflicts; and 3) sustains the ecological and economic benefits of the river to Montanans and our guests,” according to Montana FWP.

As part of the EA, three management alternatives were proposed, all of which were assessed for their potential impact on recreation values and the physical environment, in addition to natural, heritage and economic resources. Interested parties are encouraged to review the EA and Madison River Rule Proposal and submit comments by Friday, October 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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