HELENA – Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Commission on May 9 endorsed the Madison River Citizens Advisory Committee’s recommendations for a new recreation management plan that aims to assuage congestion and potential user group conflicts.

The Madison has been one of the most heavily fished rivers in Montana in recent years, and in May 2012, the agency appointed the CAC to develop the recommendations.

The goal behind the new plan, according to FWP materials, is to ensure user experience remains quality, and to identify management actions that could be implemented should conditions deteriorate.

Using a consensus process, the CAC developed recommendations that included desired conditions for the waterway, river-wide management recommendations, and more specific management recommendations for eight sections of the river. These “desired conditions” include a healthy and productive fishery, acceptable frequency/range of encounter among users; adequate space; no garbage; and a world class fishing experience.

The next step is for FWP to solicit public comments on the recommendations, to be followed by a draft recreation management plan.

Highlights from the CAC recommendations:

– Use educational material to promote river etiquette and to advise visitors on what conditions to expect during peak-season or at high-use sections of the river.

– Use “iron rangers” at all access sites to collect data on user numbers and satisfaction levels.

– Implement management actions if user numbers and/or dissatisfaction reach an unacceptable level for a specified period of time, with “trigger-points” identified over time.

– Management actions range from less to more restrictive.

– Actions that could be considered in the future include: redesigning access sites to reduce launch time and congestion; requiring annual permits of all users with no limit on availability; restricting use by place/time; and capping availability of permits.

– Redesign boat ramp and parking area at Lyons Bridge fishing access to reduce launch wait-time and congestion.

– Open the river to year-round angling from Lyons Bridge FAS to McAtee fishing access.

– Prohibit glass bottles from Warms Springs Recreation Area to Black’s Ford fishing access.