FWP Commission Opens 2.5 Miles of Clark Fork River May 1 and Retains Closure on Lower Blackfoot River
(Helena, MT) – Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) announced today that a 2.5 mile stretch of the Clark Fork River east of Missoula near Milltown State Park will open May 1 to boating, floating and swimming after being closed since 2006 for river restoration work at the former Milltown Dam site. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Commission ruled today.
The Clark Fork River’s banks will remain closed, except for the gravel bars, so newly planted vegetation can take hold.
In addition, the FWP Commission ruled to extend a closure to boating, floating and swimming on 1.5 miles of the lower Blackfoot River for a year. The closure is from Weigh Station Fishing Access Site to the downstream side of the Interstate-90 bridge piers. Obstructions in the water, including remnants of the Bonner Dam and the I- 90 bridge piers, present significant public safety hazards. The FWP Commission will review the need for the closure again in 2014.
Effective immediately, the public will have foot access to the banks of the lower Blackfoot River in this area.
Public comments collected in March favored opening the Clark Fork River with restricted access to the river banks.
Public comments regarding the Blackfoot River saw 18 comments in support of extending that closure, fourteen opposing it.
Cleanup and restoration of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers associated with the Milltown Dam Superfund site was completed in the summer of 2012. In 2006, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Commission authorized the closure of short stretches of the two rivers for roughly five years. In 2011, the Commission extended the closures two more years, with a tentative reopening on July 1, 2013.
Milltown State Park, located near Missoula, has an anticipated opening in 2014. The overlook is open now. It features more than 500 acres of terrain, ranging from restored river bottoms to a pine forested bluff overlooking the confluence. The park will offer visitors a place to go hiking, biking, fishing, floating and watching for birds and wildlife. The park will include trails, picnic shelters and river access points. For more information visit stateparks.mt.gov
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