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FWP seeks comments on recommendations for Madison River use

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking comments from the public on a set of recommendations for commercial-use and recreation management on the Madison River, one of the most popular fisheries and recreation destinations in the state.

Public input in this process is especially important because it could inform recreation management for other rivers in Montana.

The recommendations were developed by a 12-person work group representing a variety of interests that the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission tasked with looking at management solutions for commercial use and recreation on the Madison.

A public comment period on the recommendations is open until Oct. 14. People can review the full recommendations and learn how to submit comments by visiting

FWP staff will also host several meetings to share information about the recommendations and answer questions. Comments on the recommendations won't be recorded at the meetings, but attendees will be given information on how to submit comments. Meetings will be in the following locations, each beginning at 6 p.m.:

• Sept. 6: Bozeman Comfort Inn, 1370 N. 7th Ave.

• Sept. 7: Ennis Elementary School cafeteria, 223 Charles Ave.

• Sept. 8: West Yellowstone Convention and Visitors Bureau, 30 Yellowstone Ave.

• Sept. 13: Montana Tech Student Union Building in Butte, 1300 W. Park St., room 204

• Sept. 14: Virtual meeting via Zoom. Members of the public who wish to ask questions during the virtual meeting must register in advance by visiting Registration will open on Aug. 15 and close at noon on Sept. 13. Registrants will receive a link to join the meeting. The meeting can also be viewed by nonparticipants on FWP's website and YouTube channel.

Madison River work group

The Madison River work group focused specifically on developing recommendations to the commission on four areas:

• The allocation of commercial-use trips to outfitters.

• A process to permit new outfitters on the Madison River.

• Rule language to address all recreational use on the Madison River, including the walk/wade and rest/rotation sections.

• Consequences of permit violations.

The work group finalized its recommendations in May and presented them to the commission in June. Instead of initiating rulemaking, the commission then directed FWP to seek comments from a broader public on the recommendations for a longer comment period than the rulemaking process requires. FWP will report back to the commission on Dec. 16.

The work group developed recommendations for managing commercial-use, non-commercial recreation and commercial watercraft rental delivery permits; vessel requirements on the upper Madison River; and recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management for managing non-commercial float permits in Bear Trap Canyon.

Highlights among these recommendations include:

• A new Madison River commercial-use permit that would allow for the transfer of trips between permit holders.

• Implementing a commercial-use cap, which was adopted by the commission previously, to limit commercial users to the number of trips they reported in 2019 or 2020, whichever is higher.

• A mandatory, unlimited Madison River float permit for noncommercial users. The permit would allow FWP to gather data on use, which may help inform future tools for recreation management.

• Developing a comprehensive Madison River recreation plan that addresses all forms of recreation.

The full list of recommendations and other supporting documents, as well as opportunities to submit comments, can be found online at