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 & 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. These information sharing sessions will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. Here are the meeting dates and locations:

  • Sept. 11           Missoula          FWP Region 2 HQ; 3201 Spurgin Rd.
  • Sept. 12           Great Falls       FWP Region 4 HQ; 4600 Giant Springs Rd.
  • Sept. 13           Kalispell          FWP Region 1 HQ; 490 N. Meridian Rd.
  • Sept. 18           Bozeman         FWP Region 3 HQ; 1400 S. 19th
  • Sept. 19           Helena             Comfort Suites; 3180 N. Washington St. (north of Costco)
  • Sept. 20           Billings            FWP Region 5 HQ; 2300 Lake Elmo Drive
  • Sept. 25           Glasgow          Fort Peck Hatchery; 277 Highway 177
  • Sept. 26           Miles City       Miles City Community College; 2715 Dickinson St.

“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, 2012. 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 69620). For information, call Don Skaar at 406-444-7409.

Logo courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission

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