Adopt a Fishing Access

Adopt a Fishing Access

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England, Mike
If you spend any amount of time in, on, or near the waterways of Southwest Montana—and whom in this arid landscape doesn’t—chances are you’ve used a Fishing Access Site (FAS) owned by the state and maintained by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). These sites provide public access for fishing, floating, swimming, and dozens of other recreational pursuits. They range from primitive dirt pullouts to expansive parking lots with paved boat ramps and permanent outhouses. But they all have one thing in common: they get used, and they get abused.

Which is where you come in. A new program from FWP called Adopt a Fishing Access allows private businesses and sporting groups to take part in maintaining and improving access to Montana’s waterways. As water-based recreation becomes more and more popular, it’s become increasingly difficult for FWP to keep these important sites clean of rubbish and junk. Many access roads are easements through private property, and a nice, clean FAS contributes greatly to successful landowner-user relationships. “The better these two groups of people get along,” says Joe Knarr, FWP Region 3 Warden, “the greater the chances of existing FAS’s staying open, and new ones going in.”

Adopt a Fishing Access is the brainchild of Knarr and Jordan Schwartz, the president of a local fly-fishing group called the Gallatin Valley Wadin’ Women. The first cleanup was held this past July on the Gallatin River, with over 25 people participating and ten sites permanently adopted. “This first year was a great success,” says Schwartz. “We look forward to the program expanding even further, and eventually covering all of Southwest Montana.” The ten groups will maintain their sites year-round, staging two formal cleanups and several impromptu ones each year. “The basic plan,” says Knarr, “is to give each FAS its own personal caretaker.”

Knarr’s goal is to get every FAS in Region 3 adopted by the summer of 2005. If you’re interested in adopting a site, or even just helping out, call Joe at 994-7019.
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