Recommendations by the Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee received some feedback by the Region 3 Citizen Advisory Committee June 6.
The Madison River CAC was represented by seven people, three from Ennis, two from Bozeman, one from Gallatin Gateway and one from West Yellowstone.
The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission endorsed the committee’s final recommendations for the management of the Madison River at their meeting last month.
The Madison River CAC worked to create a management plan for one of Montana’s most popular rivers that would include a healthy fishery, an acceptable range between users and absolutely no garbage.
Pat Flowers, Region 3 supervisor and an agency representative on the committee, said the committee broke the river up into eight different sections and the management of each section would differ.
Cheryl Morris, FWP river recreation manager, said the committee found there didn’t seem to be many problems river-wide, but some areas experience congestion during certain times of the year. Morris continued to say the committee wanted to look into user satisfaction more thoroughly.
Even though problems don’t seem to be widespread on the Madison River now, Flowers said that is no reason to not look into management options.
“People say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but it will break,” said Flowers.
Morris said the committee would like to see some areas redesigned for congestion issues and there may be a possibility for FWP to require annual permits for every river user. If things got worse, the agency could enforce more restrictions. She said the committee would also like to see glass bottles banned on the river.
The recommendations the Madison River CAC would like to see implemented immediately involve the collection of more data on the effectiveness of current management practices on the river.
The committee suggests the FWP needs to collect accurate recreation data for each section of the river. This would be done by installing “iron rangers” at all FWP, BLM and other public access points on the entire river. A survey would then evaluate user type, user satisfaction and user level. This data would be collected year around, and the first three years would be used to establish baseline numbers for users and their satisfaction levels. Special Recreation Permit commercial users would be required to complete a survey as well that gauges overall social conditions and satisfaction.
Education and outreach efforts are a priority for the committee as well. Education efforts need to be implemented that include outreach on river etiquette and keeping the river trash-free.
The committee would also like to monitor the impacts of glass bottles on the river, the effectiveness of management actions and the completion of the Hebgen Dam.
The Region 3 CAC commended the Madison River CAC on putting together a thorough, well-written document outlining the final recommendations made to the FWP commission.
“I thought there would be a bias to a commercial use since most of the members of the committee are guides, but I was amazed at how well it was put together,” said Region 3 CAC member Rick Arnold. “I do have some concerns as how to manage some of the recommendations but it is a really good document.”
Flowers emphasized the importance of public comment on the Madison River recommendations.
“Public comment helps the FWP develop a plan and go forward with an environmental evaluation,” said Flowers.
The public can comment on the final recommendations until June 21. To submit a comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.