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The Chronicle Editorial Board in its Nov. 9 editorial, an attempt to reverse progress on the Madison River, simply got it wrong.

The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission, in their December 2020 meeting, was not acting to protect the river based on warnings from fisheries biologists, as stated in the first paragraph of the editorial; the Commission was acting on two separate petitions submitted by the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana (FOAM) and the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GGTU). In fact, these were the second petitions submitted by FOAM and GGTU in as many years. The FOAM petitions were submitted in an effort to responsibly and adaptively manage commercial use while protecting the world-class fishery of the Madison River.

The recent commission proposed rule changes will remove the rest/rotation schedules on the Madison. However, the proposed rule revisions will not “lift a longtime ban on fishing from boats on two stretches of river”, but actually maintain the beloved walk/wade section of the Madison River from the outlet of Quake Lake to Lyons Bridge.

In addition, the rules adopted by the commission during the December 2020 meeting established the Madison River Work Group. This 12-person Work Group will focus specifically on developing Madison River recreation management recommendations to the commission regarding the allocation of commercial trips and permitting of new outfitters; developing rule language to address all recreational use, including walk/wade and rest/rotation; and consequences of permit violations. The Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana is a member of the work group. Although the work group had just recently held its third meeting, each member has committed three years to the process. Finally, each member is committed to providing biologically-meaningful adaptive recreation management recommendations to the commission that will protect and conserve the renowned resource of the Madison River into the future.

Michael Bias

Twin Bridges 

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