The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Commission unanimously voted down the proposed Upper Missouri Reservoir Fisheries Management Draft Plan on Wednesday, October 17.
The 10-year management draft plan would have set the fisheries management direction for in Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter reservoirs and two associated stretches of the Missouri River above Canyon Ferry Reservoir and below Hauser Dam.
The proposed plan would not have established any regulations, but suggested strategies to achieve management goals.
Members of the public in attendance expressed concern over the language of the plan and lack of public input.
FWP established a seven-member citizen scoping committee earlier in 2018 to help develop the proposal.
Additionally, five open houses were held in the area in July for public input, but FWP reports they were poorly attended.
“It’s a red flag on how poorly attended those meetings were,” said Commissioner Logan Brower. “Without public participation, amendments will need more consideration.”
The commission, FWP representatives, and members of the public agreed public turnout for the scoping meetings was poor and needs to be improved in order to make a management plan that’s best for everyone.
“These management plans rely on public participation as we saw today,” said Fish Management Bureau Chief Eric Roberts. “It was pretty much universally recognized that there was not enough in the development of this plan and so that’s why we’re taking a step back to get that input.”
Roberts said the next step is to regroup and try to find a better way to reach fishermen before coming back to the commission with a revised plan.
Fishermen who attended the meeting said they’re happy with the decision from the commission and proud to live in a state where government values public input.
FWP would also like the public to know there will be an extensive review process in 2019 for all fishing regulations and strongly encourage public input.
“That is another process where we encourage public participation because that participation is what makes it work,” said Roberts.
For more information about any proposed changes or to contact FWP, click here.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News