Management on the Madison, Part 2

On Tuesday, November 8, Travis Horton, FWP Region 3 Fisheries Manager, sent an email announcing that the department has decided to proceed with the recreation management planning process for the Madison river.

Noting that “a planning process is warranted, and sufficient staff time and funding exists at the current time to complete the process,” Horton said the region will outline steps in the process and build a timeline, all to be sent out in press releases and other outreach avenues in December.

If you’ve read previous post on this topic, you’ve probably read the rules governing this planning process.  I expect FWP Region 3 to recruit volunteers for the planning committee from various interest and user groups, then submit these committee member recommendations to the FWP director for ratification.  Next, the department should publish a tentative timetable of meetings scheduled at a common locale in the region, probably Ennis.

The only planning process subject to these rules was the RRAFT (River Recreation Advisory For Tomorrow) group meeting to discuss the Blackfoot river in Missoula.  After two years of meetings, the committee settled on recommendations for that river.  You can download those recommendation documents from our site: Blackfoot Decision Notice or the Blackfoot Recreation Management Plan itself. Alternately, you can check out FWP’s records of the meetings at FWP Blackfoot Planning. (Be aware that the PDF’s there are best downloaded with IE9 or Safari – I had trouble using Firefox 7.)

The Big Hole / Beaverhead process came long before these current planning rules; in fact, the disorder, disagreement, contention, and difficulties of that management process lead directly to the development of the River Recreation Management Planning rules that were used in Missoula and will be applied to the Madison.

More on all this in future posts.

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3 Responses to Management on the Madison, Part 2

  1. Dave Kumlien says:

    I am disappointed that FWP is starting down this recreation plan process for the Madison. I commend FWP on the way it manages our fish and wildlife resources. We’re lucky in Montana to have the fish and wildlife department we have.

    However, it concerns me when FWP gets into the business of regulating aesthetics and social activities. In other words, I don’t see a resource issue on the Madison that mandates such a plan. In fact, in my opinion the only regulated river in the state that deserves a management plan is the Smith where heavy river use was damaging the riparian zones and damaging private property. I don’t believe that the plans on the Big Hole and the Beaverhead are providing much, if any, resource protecting, and mostly serve as business protection for the permitted outfitters. The same can be said of what a plan will do for the Madison. I do understand that the way things are going these days that whether we like it or not, we are going to get a Madison plan, and it is likely that outfitters and guides will once again be cast as the enemy.

    I hope that those who get on this planning committee realize that guides and outfitters are not devils and demons to be cast off the river whenever possible, and that collectively, we care as much or more for our fish and wildlife sources as does the general public.

    Dave Kumlien
    Outfitter 281
    40 year Madison River guide and outfitter

  2. Joe Moore says:

    Every outfitter who uses the Madison River needs to get on their soap box and send FWP an email. And, if you don’t particate in the process, you can’t complain later on down the road.

    Currently, FWP will not consider flow regimes or the Hebgen Dam debacle (should be fixed by 2014…)in their Management Plan for the Madison River. What kind of plan doesn’t include flows or the repairs at Hebgen? What does FWP really manage? Not the flows, that is for sure. PPL is who really manages the Madison River. After a huge snowpack in 2010-11, Hebgen Dam was held at full pool all summer and is still much higher than it normally is. I sent emails, almost daily, to PPL and FWP during August, begging for more water in the river. Finally, PPL gave in. When asked why they were holding onto the water, they responded “there is no indication of winter snowpack for 2011-12, so we will hold on to the water for now.” The fact is, is that Hebgen is filled every year by the 4th of July, no matter how much snow the mountains receive.

    The Madison fished just fine prior to 2008, then the dam failed. Since then, the water has come off the top of the lake and the fishing has been inconsistent. This needs to change.

    We all need to send an email stating that the flow regimes are one of the most important factors in managing our rivers. And PPL needs to be held accountable for the construction timeline at Hebgen Dam.

    If these landowners in the Madison Valley understood why the river has been tough the past few years, then maybe they would redirect their efforts and help get the Dam fixed.

    Fix the Dam and the Madison will fix itself.

    Joe Moore
    West Yellowstone
    FOAM Director.

  3. Toby Swank says:

    I’m sure every one of us is a little nervous about this issue moving forward. I know I am.

    In addition to the various concerns I’ve heard within the outfitting community, I have some serious questions as to how FWP has been able to determine that they have the resources to even consider implementing this process.

    They appear to be understaffed when it comes to enforcement as it is. The current SRP Plan administrator position has seen a high rate of turnover in the short time of the SRP. Game wardens operate on tight budgets as is and the department has had a tough time finding new wardens along with the funding that goes along with those positions.

    I don’t understand the metrics that FWP must be using to determine that they have the resources to begin any new endeavor when they can’t find the personnel and funding to maintain their current responsibilities.

    Toby Swank