FWP briefs, updates and application deadlines

Print Article

Grizzly advisory council

Governor Announces Grizzly Bear Advisory Council, Calls for Applicants

Governor Steve Bullock announced Tuesday that he will establish a Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to help initiate a statewide discussion on grizzly bear management, conservation and recovery. The Council will engage Montanans on a variety of issues and ultimately provide management agencies with discrete, actionable recommendations for grizzly bears in Montana.

To apply to be part of the advisory council or to find out more, visit fwp.mt.gov/gbac

The application deadline is Friday, April 12.

Educator workshop on bird conservation resources

Teachers, youth group leaders, and other educators are invited to attend a free workshop on bird conservation education in April.

The workshop is Tuesday, April 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell. Space is limited and interested participants should reserve a spot with Dillon Tabish at (406) 751-4564 or dillon.tabish@mt.gov.

Led by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff with the Flying WILD program, this informative and fun training is designed to provide K-12 educators with instructional tools and resources to assist in teaching youth about Montana’s avian fauna.

Participants will be engaged in standards-based learning that incorporates science, math, and reading literacy skills. The workshop will introduce participants to the new Montana E-bird website and everyone will receive a copy of the Flying WILD teacher guide. Teachers will be eligible for three hours of OPI continuing education credits.

FWP received a generous donation from the Jean Smith Estate that is helping enhance bird conservation education across the state. The donation funded the development of birding trunks that were distributed statewide. Each trunk contains 20 pairs of binoculars. The trunks also contain copies of “Sibley’s Birds West” and “Flying WILD, An Educator’s Guide to Celebrating Birds.”

Reserve a spot with Dillon Tabish at (406) 751-4564 or dillon.tabish@mt.gov.

Public Comment Sought

Public comment sought for proposed parks classification policy

Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board are seeking public comment on the proposed Classification and Investment Strategy policy for the Montana State Parks system. The proposed policy would guide strategic investment of resources into the park system. Comments will be accepted through Thursday, April 18 at 5 p.m.

The proposed policy supports the Montana State Parks Strategic Plan, adopted in 2015, and addresses key recommendations from the 2018 Parks Division Legislative Audit and the Governor appointed Parks In Focus (PIF) Commission. The audit identified a need for regularly ranking and reviewing resources for investment in capital projects, maintenance, and state park operations. Similarly, the PIF Commission recommended revision of the existing classification policy to help Parks strengthen its investment strategy and focus on fostering critical partnerships for the State Park system.

The Classification and Investment Strategy satisfies both recommendations by providing the Parks Division with a framework for the investment of human and fiscal resources across the park system in alignment with visitor needs and expectations while resolving significant major maintenance and capital improvement issues that represent public health and safety risks.

Montana’s state parks offer a diverse array of experiences from important cultural and historic sites to parks that spotlight Montana’s recreational opportunities and natural beauty. Management of a heritage park differs from the management of a recreation-focused park, so a variety of management approaches are required.

“We recognize that our visitors desire a wide-range of experiences and amenities,” said Beth Shumate, Parks Division Administrator. “From minimally developed campsites to enhanced amenities and high-quality cultural interpretation, there is a state park for everyone. This classification policy allows us to better articulate the services and experiences we offer to the public while providing our staff with the tools to strategically manage this diverse park system.”

The policy establishes service-level designations which categorize the types of amenities visitors can expect: Rustic, Core, and Enhanced. Parks with rustic services are aimed at attracting visitors who prefer a self-directed experience with limited developed amenities. Parks which offer core services provide moderate amenities and services. Parks with enhanced services have multiple amenities and offer several options for visitors.

In addition to service-level designations, the policy also groups parks by the primary, overall visitor experience offered at each park: Natural, Heritage and Recreation. By categorizing each park through these criteria, the Division will be able to more effectively manage parks according to their specific needs and purposefully plan for future investment.

To view the complete proposed Classification and Investment Strategy policy visit stateparks.mt.gov and click on “Public Comment & Notices.”

A 30-day public comment period will be open through Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 5pm. To comment online visit stateparks.mt.gov and click on “Public Comment & Notices.” Or send comments by email to parkclassification@mt.gov. The public may also mail comments to Montana State Parks Classification Policy, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT., 59620.

Visit Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.

FWP seeks public comment on smallmouth bass removal project

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a programmatic environmental assessment to remove smallmouth bass from Gallatin Valley ponds. Comments on the proposed environmental assessment will be used to make a final decision on whether to proceed with the project as planned.

After illegally introduced smallmouth bass were discovered in a public pond near Belgrade and two private ponds in the Gallatin Valley were found suspect of having smallmouth bass populations, FWP sampled most public ponds in the Gallatin Valley to determine the presence or absence of smallmouth bass. The pond near Belgrade was the only public water shown to be positive for smallmouth. Private ponds were not tested.

In the 1970s, FWP stocked largemouth bass in a series of ponds near Three Forks. Since then, Illegal introductions have resulted in largemouth bass in nearly all public ponds in the Gallatin Valley, including a report of largemouth bass being caught in Hyalite Reservoir. FWP has also documented hundreds of illegal introductions of warm water fish species in the Flathead Valley. FWP anticipates a similar spread pattern with smallmouth bass. Largemouth bass are more of a lake/pond species, whereas smallmouth bass do much better in riverine systems. FWP is concerned that further illegal introductions from this source will result in smallmouth bass populations in Upper Missouri River rivers and streams. Smallmouth bass would thrive in some area rivers and likely cause irreparable harm to wild trout populations, which are economically important to the state.

FWP proposes the use rotenone to eliminate known sources of smallmouth bass in ponds within the Gallatin Valley. Once smallmouth bass are successfully removed from a community pond, FWP will restock the pond with rainbow trout. FWP will work with any private pond owner to restore a fishery to appropriate game fish species after the treatment has been completed. To review the EA, go to http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/environmentalAssessments/speciesRemovalAndRelocation/pn_0079.html.

The deadline for public comment is April 17. A public meeting will be held in early April. Comment can be mailed to FWP, c/o Smallmouth Bass Removal, 1400 S. 19th Ave., Bozeman, MT 59718, or emailed to FWPRG3EA@mt.gov. If you have any questions regarding the proposed project, please call the regional office at 406-994-4042.

Online boater training

Certified boater training for Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoir is available online at cleandraindrymt.com.

Watercraft owners who primarily recreate on either Tiber or Canyon Ferry reservoir can receive the Certified Boater designation. The online training course provides participants with information about the invasive mussel threat; how to appropriately clean, drain and dry watercraft; and why it’s important for everyone to take responsibility in protecting Montana’s waterbodies.

Certified Boaters are expected to do a self-inspection every time they exit the waterbody to make sure their boat is clean, drained and dry. The program is designed to decrease volume at decontamination stations and allow a focus on boats traveling elsewhere. Certified Boaters sign an agreement pledging to go through decontamination before leaving their designated waterbody to launch in another waterbody.

Certified Boaters must stop if they encounter an inspection station where they will be expedited through after a brief interview.

The Certified Boater program is open to Montana residents who live east of the continental divide and who boat primarily on Canyon Ferry or Tiber reservoir. As proof of Certified Boater designation, the watercraft owner will receive two decals to place on each side of the back or stern of their boat, and a third decal to place on the boat trailer.

Starting April 1, watercraft owners unable to access the online Certified Boater training can visit a Fish, Wildlife & Parks office to complete the training in person.

For more information on invasive mussels, maps of inspection and decontamination stations, and the Certified Boater training, visit cleandraindrymt.com or call 406-444-2440.

Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee to meet in Bozeman

The Yellowstone Ecosystem Subcommittee (YES) will meet April 3 and 4 in Bozeman at the Hilton Garden Inn.

YES is the multi-agency organization charged with recovery of the grizzly in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. The committee is made up of federal, state, county and tribal agency partners. YES is a subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), the multi-agency group made up of United States and Canadian agencies responsible for recovery of the grizzly bear in the contiguous United States and adjoining Canadian Provinces.

The meeting will run from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on April 3 and from 8 a.m. to noon on April 4. There will an opportunity for public comment during the last 30 minutes of the meeting each day. For more information about the YES meeting, including a complete agenda, visit http://igbconline.org/meetings/yesspringmeeting2019/.

Flathead State Park

Flathead Fledglings day camp

Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and Flathead Lake State Park invite you to the Flathead Fledglings Day Camp on Tuesday, March 26 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This program will explore spring ecology through hands-on activities and a hike in the forest.

This program is intended for children in kindergarten through third grades, and parents are welcome to attend with their children. This will be held outside, so please dress for the weather.

Advanced registration is required; please call the Flathead Lake Ranger Station at 406-837-3041 to register. The cost is $4 per child or $10 per family.

For more information and to register, call the Flathead Lake Ranger Station at (406) 837-3041.

Flathead Lake State Park – Wayfarers Unit, 8600 Mt. Hwy 35, Bigfork. Meet at the Harry Horn Picnic Shelter http://stateparks.mt.gov/wayfarers/

A Walk Through Time guided hike

Montana State Parks and Flathead Lake State Park invite you to join our rangers on A Walk Through Time on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to noon. Explore Wayfarers and discover the fascinating history of the land that became Flathead Lake State Park.

Please wear sturdy shoes, bring a water bottle, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. This hike will be 1.5 miles, and cost is $4 per person or $10 per family. Call the Flathead Lake Ranger Station at 406-837-3041 with any questions.

Flathead Lake State Park, 8600 Mt. Hwy 35, Bigfork. Meet at the Ranger Station.


Flathead Lake State Park consists of six unique park units located around Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. The park units on the east side are Wayfarers, Yellow Bay and Finley Point and the west side units are West Shore, Big Arm and Wild Horse Island. In addition to boating, swimming and fishing, each park unit offers unique experiences including camping, rental picnic shelters, group camping, hiking, sightseeing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Lone Pine State Park

Spring break edition of Jr. Ranger Days offered

Lone Pine State Park will host two age-specific days of Spring Break Jr. Ranger programs on Wednesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 27, Lone Pine welcomes kids from kindergarten through third grade for a day of outdoor fun during a special spring break edition of the Lone Pine State Park Jr. Ranger Program. Children will enjoy a scavenger hunt hike, games, crafts, learn about furs of Montana, and plant native flowers to take home.

On Thursday, March 28, kids from fourth through sixth grade are invited to explore the wonders of the park through a scavenger hunt hike, creating homes for pollinators, learning the history of and trying archery, games and crafts.

Registration is $4 and limited to 15 participants per day. For More information or to register call the park visitor center at (406) 755-2706 ext. 4.

Lone Pine State Park is located 5 miles southwest of Kalispell and offers one of the most vivid views of the valley, 7.5 miles of trails, and a beautiful interpretive center that provides information on living in a wildlife urban interface. Additional amenities include a picnic shelter and a community room, which are both available to rent, as well as a volleyball court, horseshoe pit and an archery range. Furthermore, Lone Pine offers a fantastic variety of educational and interpretive programs.

Hunting closures

Mountain lion hunting to close in HD 100

The hunting of male mountain lions in northwestern Montana Hunting District 100, which includes portions of Lincoln County, closed Mar. 18.

The order halting the hunt came shortly after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest sub-quota for the district had been met.

For more information, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov , click on “Hunting” then choose “Drawing & Quota Status”, or call the toll-free number at 1-800-385-7826.

Instructors honored

Hunter, Bowhunter Education instructors honored for years of service

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks honored the service of its Region 1 hunter and bowhunter education instructors at an annual workshop on March 9, 2019 in Kalispell.

The annual workshop is an opportunity for FWP staff and instructors from each region to review the program, discuss updates and new equipment, and to celebrate the volunteerism of the instructors.

The heart of Montana’s hunter and bowhunter education programs is the corps of dedicated volunteer instructors. They stand as examples of how each hunter should demonstrate ethics, behavior and responsibility to themselves, landowners, other hunters and the resource.

At the 2019 workshop in Kalispell, several instructors were awarded for service milestones, ranging from five to 30 years. The latest honorees are listed below.

Dale Somerfield of Kalispell was named the Region 1 Instructor of the Year.

“The men and women who volunteer to mentor new hunters are skilled, passionate and dedicated to Montana’s hunting heritage and to teaching firearms safety,” said Dillon Tabish, the information and education program manager for FWP Region 1.

“These instructors serve their communities in a very important way. They deserve a sincere ‘Thank you’ from all of us.”

In 2018, a total of 1,561 students were certified through Montana hunter and bowhunter education in Region 1. Statewide, a total of 9,050 students were certified last year.

If anyone is interested in the future of hunting, in improving sportsmanship and safety in the field, or teaching an appreciation for the vast hunting resources in Montana, FWP encourages them to sign up to become an instructor. Visit fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter for more information. Registration is open for spring classes across the region, and students should register online at http://www.fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter.

FWP Region 1 Service Milestones

5 Years (Bowhunter Ed)

Megan Turner, Plains

5 Years (Hunter Ed)

Nicholas Haas, Kalispell

Russell Harbin, Polson

Grant Holle, Bigfork

Sarah Osborn, Troy

Tony Popp, Kalispell

AJ Popp, Kalispell

Chaunce Sabin, Whitefish

Wes Targerson, Polson

Dana Thingelstad, Ronan

Eruk Williamson, Polson

10 Years (Bowhunter Ed)

Benjamin Valentine, Troy

10 Years (Hunter Ed)

Ben Chappelow, Eureka

Jim Jones, Troy

Doug Padden, Plains/Thompson Falls

Nathan Sommers, Kalispell

15 Years (Bowhunter Ed)

Alan Kelly, Libby

Monty Long, Kalispell

20 Years (Bowhunter Ed)

Peter Drowne, Bigfork

Harold Hudson, Trout Creek

20 Years (Hunter Ed)

Wayne Crismore, Plains

Bob Friedman, Kalispell

Tom Horelick, Libby

Ned Winebrenner, Hot Springs

25 Years (Bowhunter Ed)

Ron Nail, Whitefish

Larry Rattray, Proctor

25 Years (Hunter Ed)

Jon Cuthbertson, Kalispell

Patrick Flanary, Eureka

Dale Sommerfield, Kalispell

Tim Thier, Trego

30 Years (Hunter Ed)

Ron Nail, Whitefish

Danny Place, Libby

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

FWP officials propose increasing wolf harvest

February 11, 2020 at 10:04 am | Western News Many people in northwest Montana harbor strong feelings about gray wolves. Some see the predators as evil incarnate. Others embrace wolves as powerful symbols of wildness and a contributor to the b...


Read More

Local groups to host several wintry recreational outings

January 17, 2020 at 9:42 am | Western News Two conservation organizations, including Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, plan to offer free winter outings in the region in the weeks ahead. Two of the guided outings, one relying on cross-...


Read More

Southwest Montana remains a jewel of the state

December 06, 2019 at 9:51 am | Western News For the most part, the physical and social geography of southwest Montana has changed little with the passage of time. Ranching and agriculture are the major lifestyles, and the Bitterroot and Ga...


Read More

Making new family out in the wilderness

December 03, 2019 at 9:51 am | Western News Being outdoors has always been an integral part of my life, but there is a distinct difference between being outdoors and being in the wilderness. I’ve learned, forgotten and relearned this diff...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2020 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy