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New Restrictions May Be Coming for the Madison River

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Later this month there will be a meeting to discuss the fate for the Madison River for commercial use. Here is the press release I received from Montana Fish and Wildlife this week.



(BOZEMAN, Mont.)—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a recreation management plan and administrative rules for the Madison River. The proposal is set to be presented at the next meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Commission as a first step in addressing increasing concerns about crowding and social conflict on the river.

At its April 19 meeting, the Commission will not be deciding on the proposal, only whether to allow the Department to seek public input on the proposal as a start to the process.

The proposed plan addresses the Madison River in southwest Montana from the outlet of Quake Lake to its confluence with the Jefferson River near Three Forks.

It is intended to improve the recreational experience for all users by reducing crowding and social conflicts. As such, it is strictly a recreation management plan, not a resource management plan.

The proposed plan comes as a response to years of public input in the form of surveys, scoping meetings, and informal comments indicating a decline in the user experience on the Madison. Specifically, users expressed concern about crowding both on the river and at access points, the level of commercial outfitting and the impact of the increasing numbers of visitors to the Madison.

The Department’s data also shows that overall recreational use on the Madison continues to increase with angling pressure increasing approximately 15-percent every two years. With that, reported commercial use is up 72-percent from 2008.

Therefore, the Department began developing a recreation plan and convened a citizen advisory committee in 2012 which included individuals representing fishing outfitters, landowners, anglers and local business owners.

FWP’s proposal combines many of the recommendations made by that Madison River Citizen Advisory Committee and that of FWP staff.

I have read the draft proposal and it sounds that we might be headed to rules implemented much like the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers here in Montana where certain sections are closed to commercial guides on specific days and limiting the number of trips an outfitter may use the river at certain times periods. I will keep you updated as the story progresses. Any new laws adopted will not take effect until 2019.

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