MT FWP Commission votes unanimously to approve a recommendation for a recreation plan for the Madison River


by John Schilling November 19, 2020

Montana FWP ignores FOAM and public comment and implements a poorly designed system of rest and rotation for the Upper Madison.

The FWP made these changes based on Social Issues and not scientific data.  How can you only regulate those who use the river 10-15% and not the public who use it the majority of the time.  Another anti-business move by the state.

Please read FOAM's notice below of the FWP ruling.

Commission votes unanimously to approve a recommendation for a recreation plan for the Madison River


Dear FOAM Member:

In a late vote today, the Fish & Wildlife Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to approve a recommendation for a recreation management plan for the Madison River. 
 
Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP’s) on Monday released their “Department Recommendations for Adoption” to resolve the Madison River recreation management issue.  The Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) reviewed this document and wholeheartedly rejected the management recommendations contained in it as final solution for a recreation management plan for the Madison.  We were surprised to see the department recommendations, as they did not seem to take into consideration many of the aspects of the proposed FOAM plan, or public comments that had been submitted.
 
FOAM offered the Commission alternatives to the “Department Recommendations” to help craft a plan that would be suitable to all river users, while not having a devastating effect on our industry.  The Commission should be given credit for their efforts today in providing what we felt was one of the most constructive working group meetings that we have seen them hold with respect to the Madison.  They took public comment, worked through each proposed rule, and offered solutions that we feel have the best chance of seeing success in a recreation plan for the Madison.  To have a successful recreation plan on the Madison see implementation, it will likely take the buy-in and efforts of multiple organizations being willing to support it throughout the upcoming legislative session.
 
The Commission adopted the following rules today:
 
New Rule I: 

  • Madison River Special Recreational Use Permit (SRP) holders will be assigned a number of trips that they may operate in a season equal to their highest number of historic use of trips in the 2019 or 2020 season (FOAM’s proposed new rule VI in petition).
  • New Rule I will be implemented, January 1, 2022.

 
New Rule II:  

  • Rest and Rotation will be implemented from June 15 - September 30.
  • On Saturdays, June 15 - September 30, from Raynolds Bridge to Lyons Bridge will be open to noncommercial float fishing and closed to commercial float fishing.
  • On Sundays, June 15 – September 30, Lyons Bridge to Palisades Fishing Access Site will be closed to commercial float fishing.
  • On Sundays, June 15 - September 30, Raynolds Bridge to Lyons Bridge will be open to all float fishing.
  • New Rule II will be implemented June 15, 2023.

 
New Rule III:

  • Ennis to Ennis Lake, will remain as status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will remain as status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat from October 1 – June 14.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will remain status quo, allowing boats to be used for access for fishing, but not allowing fishing from a boat, Monday – Friday, June 15 to September 30.
  • Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge will be open to fishing from a boat on Saturdays and Sundays, June 15 - September 30.
  • New Rule III will be implemented, June 15, 2023. 

Lastly the Commission adopted a variation of FOAM’s original Commercial Use Working Group to include a 12-member working group that will look to manage commercial and noncommercial users on the Madison.  The working group will include a member from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a Commission member, 3 commercial outfitters, 3 noncommercial river users, 2 Madison Valley business interests, 1 member trained in natural resource management, and 1 at-large member.  The working group will develop recommendations for approval by the Commission on: a) allocation of commercial use trips; b) a process to permit new outfitters on the Madison; and, c) rule language to address all recreational management on the Madison River, including the Walk/Wade and Rest and Rotation reaches.
 
Work will be necessary in the upcoming legislative session to allow for transferability of commercial allocated days.  We were excited to hear Mac Minard, Executive Director for the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) voice his desire and willingness to push for this in the upcoming legislative session.  There is no doubt that MOGA’s strong legislative ties will be absolutely necessary in this effort, and FOAM will offer our support and willingness to help in these efforts.
 
The efforts of many helped to get a recreation plan for the Madison River adopted, something that has been unattainable for the last 50 years.  It has taken these efforts to accomplish this, and having a recreation plan that can be adjusted will hopefully help to refine it further to something that can be accepted by many.
 

 
Respectfully,

Jason Fleury
President
(jason@foam-mt.org; 406-672-6656)

Michael A. Bias, Ph.D.
Executive Director
(mike@foam-mt.org 406-925-2276)




John Schilling
John Schilling

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