At the Coalition, we want to make sure that rivers in the Clark Fork provide responsible recreation opportunities for all of us, which protect the waters we enjoy and don't put others at risk. Last year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted to keep high-speed motor boats off all rivers near Missoula during the summer months. The new rules also include a spring closure on the Bitterroot. Thank you to all members who spoke up to keep our rivers quiet and safe.
Check out this new map from MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. It explains the new non-motorized rules on the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot Rivers, which are effective for the 2012 boating season. Download printable map as PDF
Everyone deserves the chance to experience and enjoy our waterways. At the Coalition, we've discovered that those who get out on the river are also more inclined to engage in its long-term care. However, there was enough motorized watercraft shooting down the Clark Fork the past few summer to cause some consternation among river users.
The Problem: High-speed power boats present a safety hazard to non-motorized vessels, bank fishermen, swimmers, and other river recreationists. In recent years, we've seen a higher number of jet skis and jet boats on the rivers near Missoula. The Coalition is concerned about that a continued increase in power boats will impact to water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and the overall river experience for citizens.
The Impacts: High-speed motorized recreation on rivers can cause shoreline erosion from wakes, degredation of sensitive trout habitat, disturbance of the feeding or nesting patterns of birds, frogs and turtles, and higher potential for gas spills and other water pollutions. Power boats are also another vector for potentially spreading aquatic invasive species between rivers and lakes. Plus, the increase in high-speed motorized use can pose safety hazards for other river users, putting swimmers, anglers, and non-motorized boaters at risk for collisions on the water.
Links and Resources:
June 22, 2011 (Missoulian guest editorial) Motorized use needs reasonable restrictions-- soon: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is considering rule changes for motorized use on the Clark Fork and lower Bitterroot rivers.
June 21, 2011 (Missoulian guest editorial) Jet skis, powerboats degrading Bitterroot River: The motorboats and Jet Skis tearing up the river and riverbank in front of my house, more of them every day, represent a direct threat to the conservation values of my property and the quality of life of my family.
June 19, 2011 (Missoulian op-ed) Limits on speedboats best solution: A rising chorus of complaints from homeowners, anglers, floaters, birdwatchers and other river recreationists has prompted the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission to recommend closing parts of the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers to speedboats.
June 17, 2011 (Missoulian): Proposed Missoula-area power boat limits criticized by 2 sides: "About 100 people came out Thursday evening to comment on a Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks plan to restrict or eliminate high-powered watercraft from the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers near the city ..."
November 10, 2010 (Missoulian Letter to the Editor): Clark Fork River Access- We Can't Afford Maintenance, Ramp: "My fellow Missoula residents, I think we are going to be making a big mistake by wanting another boat ramp in the city of Missoula ... "
October 14, 2010 (Missoulian): Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Hits Slack Water on River Recreation Planning: While a plan to build a new boat ramp and parking lot west of town at the Harpers Bridge FAS won general approval, it also raised lots of questions. How would motorized-use conflicts be resolved? Would bald eagle nests and heron rookeries be considered? What if the site became another party zone like the Blackfoot River's Johnsrud Park? ... read more
October 7, 2010 (Missoulian): Harper's Brige Boat Launch Plan Draws Debate: Plans for a new Clark Fork River boat launch west of Missoula have raised concerns about how much power boat use it might attract. FWP bought the 12-acre parcel at the end of Harper's Bridge Road in 2008 for $63,000. It straddles both sides of the Clark Fork River and is broken into a third piece by a small slough that parallels Harper's Bridge Road. The new access site would be built on the northeast 1-acre corner. It would have at least 24 parking spaces, with expansion room for up to 36. ... read more