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Outdoor Briefs

Outdoor Briefs

Smith River floating discouraged

Due to safety concerns and low flows, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff discourages any floating on the Smith River.

The Meagher County Sheriff’s office issued a pre-evacuation notice for the Smith River corridor from Camp Baker to the confluence with Blacktail Creek due to the Ellis Fire, which had grown to nearly 900 acres as of Wednesday afternoon.

The portion of the Smith River from the confluence of the North and South forks to Eden Bridge south of Great Falls remains closed to all fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight because of low flows and high water temperatures. The gauge at Eagle Creek is measuring 55 cubic feet per second and well below what is recommended for floating.

More restrictions due to the fire are possible. For more information on the Ellis Fire, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7625/.

Regional raptors topic of talk 

WHITEHALL Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park will host a free talk titled “Raptors of the Region” with Mary Maj at 8 p.m. Friday in the park’s campground amphitheater. 

This presentation will cover general characteristics and behaviors of diurnal and nocturnal raptors of Montana. Participants will get a close examination of a few more common species to further their observation and identification skills, as well as their appreciation of birds of prey.  Education materials and references for further study will be provided. 

Maj earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in fish and wildlife management from Montana State University. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 35 years, serving as a district biologist; regional threatened, endangered and sensitive species biologist; and ending as a district ranger.  

This is the eighth presentation in Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park’s annual Friday Summer Speakers Series, which introduces a new speaker each Friday at 8 p.m. throughout the summer. 

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is about 15 miles southeast of Whitehall, along Montana Highway 2. For more information about the park, please visit stateparks.mt.gov/lewis-and-clark-caverns or call 406-287-3541. 

Appreciate your watercraft inspectors

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is having its first-ever Watercraft Inspector Appreciation Week on Aug. 2-8.

Inspectors work at more than 20 roadside watercraft inspection stations across the state that are operated by FWP and partner organizations.

“Watercraft inspectors are incredibly important to the AIS prevention program,” says Tom Woolf, AIS bureau chief for FWP. “They deserve a big thank you for all the long hours they work in remote locations under some extreme weather conditions.”

Inspectors are trained to examine a wide variety of motorized and non-motorized boats, some with complex internal systems and ballast tanks that need special consideration to inspect and decontaminate. They follow a check list to ensure all watercraft are free of invasive plants, animals and standing water.

Events are being planned at stations statewide. Stakeholders and the public are encouraged to say thanks to their local watercraft inspectors.

Organizations that would like to “adopt” their local watercraft station and help celebrate the inspection staff should contact FWP at 406-444-7815.

Find information about Montana’s watercraft inspection stations at CleanDrainDryMT.com.

Any thoughts on septic drain field?

WHITEHALL – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park are proposing to replace and upgrade the septic drain field at the park.

The new system would handle projected increases in visitation over the next 20 years. The existing drain field is insufficient to support the current number of visitors, which have recently increased.

Visitation during the first quarter of 2021 at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park was up by 78% from the same period in 2020 and more than triple the visitation during the first quarter of 2019.

The drain field would be located in the northwest end of the park campground.

A draft environmental assessment for this proposal can be viewed online at go.usa.gov/x6eYJ.

Comments on this proposal must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on July 29. They can be emailed to Betsey.Labroad@mt.gov or mailed to:

Betsey LaBroad, Regional Park Manager

1400 S. 19th Ave.

Bozeman, MT 59718

Appreciate your game warden

THREE FORKS – Missouri Headwaters State Park will host a free speaker presentation on Saturday, featuring Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Warden Sgt. Josh Leonard.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in the park campground. People should bring their own lawn chair. A marshmallow roast follows each program, weather permitting.

Leonard will talk about his and other game wardens’ role in public land. Wardens help ensure public lands are used safely and protected for everyone to use. These lands include state parks, fishing access sites, wildlife management areas and other lands managed by the state, as well as block management areas.

The park will host a different speaker every Saturday until Aug. 14, with various topics connected to the main theme of this year’s Summer Speaker Series: the significance of public lands.

Missouri Headwaters State Park is about 5 miles north of Three Forks on Trident Road. For more information about the park, please visit fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/missouri-headwaters or call 406-285-3610.

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