Madison River CAC closing in on final plan, next meeting in Ennis

Sunday’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting at the Ennis Library is the second to last before an April 11 presentation to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission in Helena. CAC member John Way said that deadline is a reasonable one.

“We are working really hard to meet that timeline,” Way said.

The CAC met last on January 12 and worked on one of the session’s objectives. Members revised, added to, edited, and in some cases, tentatively agreed to specific items related to the Madison River recreation management plan, according to the session summary. Those tentative agreements included important items in the “Desired Condition” for the Madison River, General Recommendations, and River above Hebgen Dam (Park to Hebgen Lake).

The Lyons Bridge to Ennis Lake stretch saw a large amount of revisions and additions in the draft plan. Way said this is because this stretch sees a large amount of use.

Initial ideas and thoughts about the least to most restrictive management actions include requiring all floating users to register and display the registration on their craft for the busy Lyons Bridge to Ennis Lake stretch with no limit on numbers. The CAC hopes to identify and evaluate additional access sites at Lyons and Ruby that would relieve float pressure but also protect the wade angler. The same is set for the Storey Ditch and McAtee sites. Seasonal openings and closures was a discussed topic as well.

Committee members were tasked with thinking about how and where their work on the Lyons Bridge to Ennis section and the River above Hebgen Dam section might be useful with other River sections.

“That stretch does get a lot of use. It sees the majority of fishing use of the entire river,” Way said. “None of it is set in stone at this point,” he added about the plan, “They are ideas we are working through.”

A CAC member suggested that the least restrictive to most restrictive management actions concept might be more easily understood and developed if the CAC thinks in terms of mild impacts to users and then move to varying levels of redistribution, and finally varying levels of restricting users.

 

The ongoing impact of the dam renovation was again addressed, particularly related to how those impacts might affect thresholds and what return to normal might mean when the work is completed.

 

The likely effects on crowding at possible access and distribution points and the possible impacts on current interests and users were listed for consideration in thinking about adding access sites in particular stretches. Impacts on other resources, the solution possibly contributing to exceeding a threshold in another section of the River, and other unintended consequences were also discussed.

 

Session objectives for Sunday’s (Feb. 10) meeting are adding pertinent data, trapline and public sentiments to the conversation related to Madison River recreation management, moving toward completion of draft recommendations for recreation management on the Madison River with concentration particularly on the notion of thresholds and applying them to various stretches of the River, and planning for the March 3 CAC meeting at FWP headquarters in Bozeman. Sunday’s meeting runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

After some discussion, the CAC agreed that a single location, limited public meeting would not adequately reflect public response to their recommendations and decided they would continue to seek public comment at each Committee meeting, make sure they are seeking input from their traplines, and put their progress and product on the FWP website where many more people able to get the information.

 

For more information, contact Cheryl Morris, Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 River Recreation Manager at 994-6359.

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