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HOUSE BILL NO. 629
INTRODUCED BY D. MOOD
AN ACT DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS TO CONDUCT A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF BLACKFOOT RIVER USE AND CONFLICT AND REPORT THE DEPARTMENT'S FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS TO THE 57TH LEGISLATURE.
WHEREAS, Montana's rivers are drawing people to the state to fish, float, and camp at an accelerating rate; and
WHEREAS, although the increasing popularity of Montana is beneficial to the state's economy, steps must be taken to ensure that escalating recreational use of natural resources does not degrade the resource, taint the experience, or threaten private property rights; and
WHEREAS, with the unparalleled scenery and the abundance of fish, osprey, bald eagles, deer, and other wildlife sustained by its waters, the Blackfoot River in western Montana offers recreationists a unique, pristine outdoor experience; and
WHEREAS, the same attributes that bring floaters, campers, and anglers to the banks of the Blackfoot River to visit have attracted Montana families to live, work, and recreate for over a hundred years; and
WHEREAS, increased use of the river has led to an increase in the frequency and intensity of conflicts among the landowner, the commercial outfitter, and the private recreationist, each of whom has a legitimate and legal interest in the Blackfoot River; and
WHEREAS, cooperation between private property owners and recreationists to resolve conflict along the Blackfoot River is not unprecedented; and
WHEREAS, the Legislature finds it appropriate and timely to direct the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to lead a comprehensive study of the Blackfoot River and its capacity to sustain recreational use, while ensuring that private property and water rights are retained with minimal conflict.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Blackfoot River study. (1) The department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall undertake a comprehensive study of the Blackfoot River, which may include ongoing department studies as well as findings derived from the draft Blackfoot River Recreation Management Direction of 1999.
(2) The study must address:
(a) the growing popularity of the Blackfoot River and ways to mitigate conflict among landowners, outfitters, and private recreationists;
(b) ways to protect the integrity of the river's resources, while continuing to accommodate recreational use;
(c) the amount and scope of use by recreationists that the river is capable of sustaining;
(d) easement, right-of-way, access, and trespass concerns between private landowners and public users of the river;
(e) the impact that heavy recreational use has on the river's fish, wildlife, streambanks, and water quality; and
(f) any other issue that the department determines needs to be examined in order to complete the study.
(3) During the course of the study, the department may enlist the assistance of the governor's consensus council, created pursuant to executive order, to organize discussions among all interested parties.
(4) The department shall report its findings and conclusions to the 57th legislature. The report must include but is not limited to:
(a) a suggested appropriate role for the department and the fish, wildlife, and parks commission in mitigating and mediating conflicts between recreationists and private landowners;
(b) the amount and type of use that is taking place on the river and how that use is changing from the historical recreational use of the river;
(c) the amount of use that the river is capable of sustaining before significant resource degradation occurs;
(d) a description of the amount, nature, and location of conflicts occurring on the river that have warranted intervention;
(e) the steps taken to ensure that landowners, outfitters, and members of the public were afforded the opportunity to comment and participate in the study; and
(f) suggested legislation or department rules, if either are warranted, to alleviate conflict, preserve the integrity of the resource, protect private property rights, and ensure continued high-quality fishing, camping, and floating for commercial and private recreational users.
- END -
Latest Version of HB 629 (HB0629.ENR)
Processed for the Web on March 31, 1999 (2:07PM)
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