Written by Wolf Point Herald
Montana fisheries officials are seeking comment on a draft statewide fisheries management plan that would establish goals and direction for fisheries management, habitat protection and improvement, fishing access and angling opportunities for the next six years.
A statewide plan is essentially a "road map" for managing all of the state’s fisheries, said Bruce Rich, fisheries bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Helena.
"The plan will provide guidance to the public and decision makers for each of Montana's river drainages," Rich said. "It will also guide how FWP will work to set priorities on different waters to better serve anglers and public officials."
Rich said the key for FWP is to have a long-term plan that provides specific direction and goals but one that is also flexible enough to allow for adaptive management based on changing circumstances within agreed upon sideboards.
The draft plan was recently presented to the FWP Commission and a final plan, based on public comment and an environmental analysis, is planned for release later this year.
Eight public meetings are scheduled to discuss the draft plan this month, including one at the Fort Peck Fish Hatchery in Fort Peck on Sept. 25. These information sharing sessions will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
"Public participation is critical to the success of the plan," Rich said. "FWP's goal is to develop a plan, with public input, that will set priorities regarding desired fishing opportunities, habitat improvement projects, and enhancement of public fishing access."
The "Draft Statewide Fisheries Management Plan" presents information on topics ranging from wild fish management to hatchery fish stocking guidelines, among other programs. It focuses on services proved by FWP as well as the history of Montana's fisheries, management issues and concerns, and long-term goals and objectives for state fisheries programs.
Public comment is encouraged and can be submitted from Sept. 10 through Oct. 12. To review and comment on the draft plan visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov and click on "Statewide Fisheries Management Plan". Comments can also be sent by mail to: Statewide Fisheries Management Plan, Montana FWP, 1420 E. 6th Ave., Helena, MT 59620. For information, call Don Skaar at 406-444-7409.