A memorandum of understanding has been signed by Montana State Parks and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe turning over management of Hell Creek State Park on Fort Peck Reservoir.
Hank Worsech, director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, announced the MOU to the Montana State Parks Board at its Thursday meeting. The details of the MOU weren’t outlined, but Hope Stockwell, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division administrator for FWP, said she planned to have an agreement in front of the board at its December meeting.
Worsech said he hoped the department could walk away from Hell Creek by the end of next summer. Before that can happen, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – which oversees the no-cost lease for the property north of Jordan – must approve the Little Shell’s lease application.
“It’s moving along at a pretty good pace,” Worsech said. “Everyone here has done a Herculean effort to get this done.”
In the meantime, the department will be pouring gravel at the bottom of the boat ramp to reduce rutting in the lake shore. On the board’s agenda, the state also reported spending $60,000 at the park on repairs to staff housing and the comfort station as well as replacing picnic tables.
Stockwell said the tribe is also working with Hell Creek Marina concessionaire Clint Thomas to repair a fuel tank. The marina is operated by the Thomases under a lease agreement with the state that has created tension between the two at times.
“I’m pleased with the helpful attitude of the department,” said board member Mary Moe. “I hope we continue to do everything we can to make it a successful transition.”
Montana State Parks has taken heat in the past regarding its management of the rural state park and vacillated under different leaders over whether the state would continue managing the park or walk away.
Hell Creek is a popular location for campers from across the state and region, most of which are anglers fishing on Fort Peck Reservoir. The campground offers 71 campsites, a comfort station, potable water, fish cleaning station and RV dump station.