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City of Three Forks asking FWP for exemption at ponds

The City of Three Forks recently sent a letter to Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Director Dustin Temple asking for a meeting with the agency about the Three Forks Ponds.

At last week's Council meeting, Mayor Randy Johnston discussed the letter, which was drafted after City officials learned about House Bill 521, a new law requiring anyone over 12 to have a Recreational Use License, even if they are on leased recreation lands. In October 2020, the City of Three Forks entered into a ten-year lease with the FWP to maintain Ponds 1 and 2.

City Clerk Crystal Turner told the governing body that over the summer, several FWP Game Wardens stopped recreation users at the pond to begin the education process of informing them they would need to provide a permit to swim and fish at the ponds. Turner said many pond users are kids, often stopping by for a quick swim. She added her son uses the ponds and is not going to have a permit on his phone or in his pocket, and the regulations seem excessive.

In the letter, Johnston states that while the city understands the laws, rules, and regulations, they are asking for an exemption for those up to 18 years of age, specifically in Ponds 1 and 2, which the city is in the third year of a 10-year lease to maintain and service the land for recreation purposes.

The letter asks the FWP for an informal meeting and an opportunity to apply for an exemption. The letter states that if the city cannot get an exemption, they would inform users so they would not be surprised.