Senator Jon Tester is urging the Bureau of Reclamation to implement ideas it heard in a recent public meeting with sportsmen in Havre.
Tester earlier this month secured a commitment from the Bureau to meet with Montana sportsmen and women to hear concerns over public access restrictions below the Fresno Dam.
Prior to September 2001, the area near the base of the dam was a popular fishing spot that local residents could access on foot. Today, anglers must access the river further from the dam in shallower waters where there are fewer fish.
At the meeting, local sportsmen and wildlife advocates offered Bureau officials proposals that would allow greater access for anglers near the dam.
"Senator Tester was first out of the gate on this issue and along with our other congressmen, helped us fishermen get to the table with the BOR to begin serious, rational discussions," said Kent Gilge, a retired Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fish biologist. "We submitted a proposal that thoroughly addresses all the concerns Reclamation could dream up and I hope they take us seriously because we are not about to give up. I'm frustrated because I think this could have been resolved over a cup of coffee."
"Montana anglers know the current situation isn't working, and they've let the Bureau of Reclamation know," said Tester, chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. "It's now time for the Bureau to quickly implement a new plan that makes sense for Montana outdoorsmen and folks who live in Hill County."
Tester, whose Montana sportsmen's panel shares input on issues related to hunting, fishing and public land access, first called for the Bureau of Reclamation to reassess its policy towards the Fresno Dam earlier this year.
Tester was also recently named the "Legislator of the Year" by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.