Drafts of Madison River recreation rules, environmental assessment released

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks released a draft version of the Madison River recreation administrative rules as well as the environmental assessment (EA) for public comment Friday.

The documents can be found online at The comment period will be open until Oct. 30.

The draft administrative rule is derived from two rule-making petitions sent to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, one from the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) and another from a collaborative of the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Skyline Sportsmen Association and the Anaconda Sportsmen Association. The petitions were heard by the commission at their August meeting and were approved to move into the rule-making and EA process.

Under state statute, the rule-making process starts with draft rule language and is followed by public hearings and a public comment period. The public hearing for the draft rule will be Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. via the Zoom meeting platform, due to social distancing restrictions given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, written or emailed comments will be accepted for the duration of the comment period.

The EA analyzes three alternatives – each of the petitions, along with a no-action alternative that would maintain the status-quo. The analysis looks at each alternative for effects on recreation, natural and physical resources, heritage, and economics of the Madison River. Additionally, the EA predicts the potential of the alternatives to effectively meet the desired recreation goals for the Madison River: 1) ensure long-term health and sustainability of the fisheries; 2) diversify angling opportunity while reducing conflicts; and 3) sustain the ecological and economic benefits of the river to Montanans and our guests.

“With these draft documents, we now have something very tangible for the public to comment on,” said FWP Director Martha Williams. “Managing recreation on the Madison River has a long and contentious history. We’re anxious to hear from the public about the draft rules and EA.”

The public will be able to watch the public meeting streamed on the FWP YouTube channel and will have a dedicated phone line to call in and provide public comment. Details on how to participate will be on the FWP website. The commission will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this rule-making process or need an alternative accessible format of this notice. If you require an accommodation, contact the department no later than Oct. 9 to advise FWP of the nature of the accommodation that you need. For questions about the hearing, please contact Jessica Snyder at FWP, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620-0701; telephone 406-444-9785; or e-mail

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