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Madison River Recreation Scoping Process


by John Schilling Collaborator November 29, 2019

The Madison River is an iconic fishing destination for anglers around the world.  Stable flows, cold-water releases from dams, and wild trout management have been largely responsible for this success. Local economies, particularly Ennis and West Yellowstone, benefit greatly from this and contribute to it by providing services to anglers, boaters, campers and other recreationists. Access-site infrastructure is also important to the popularity of the fishery  and 25 access sites with boat ramps, latrines and campgrounds are provided by FWP and the BLM. These two agencies also manage a Special Recreation Permit system for commercial fishing and float outfitters on the river, but this is open to all who pay the appropriate fees. Currently, the only restrictions on recreational users are two walk/wade section on the upper river above Ennis Lake and above Lyons Bridge, which disallows fishing from a boat. 

Use of the river has increased considerably in recent years, as detailed below, and this has led to social conflict and calls for change. On Nov. 12, the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to initiate a scoping process to better understand the public’s feelings about appropriate management objectives for the river. The part of the river under consideration for this scoping process is from Quake Lake to Ennis Lake, and from the lower end of the Beartrap Wilderness to the confluence with the Jefferson River. (See Map)

As directed by the Fish and Wildlife Commission, FWP is asking the public to provide their opinions on the proposed Madison River Recreation Management Goal. Does it incorporate their interests and vision for the river?  The department is also seeking public opinion on the various alternatives to dealing with four major recreational issues on the Madison River: 1) Commercial Fishing Outfitter Management, 2) Social Conflict Management; 3) Lower River Recreational Use; and 4) Angler Use Management.

The deadline for public comment is Monday, January 6, 2019.

I think FWP Commissioner Richard Stuker said it best at the last meeting.

“Everything we’ve heard today, or pretty much everything, deals with less than 20 percent of the usage on the Madison,” said Commission Vice-Chairman Richard Stuker, referring to the department’s statistics that approximately 20 percent of Madison recreation comes from outfitted angling and the remaining 80 percent is non-commercial use.

“My concern is I’m not hearing anything about the other 80 percent of usage … The pressure is only going to continue to grow from that non-commercial use,” Stuker added. “We need to get this right. We do need to get it done, I think, as soon as possible.”

Think of that before completing the survey.
*Note: You can only take this survey once.



John Schilling Collaborator
John Schilling Collaborator

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