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Fall Fishing

On Monday, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the proposal to accept a donation of 6.25 acres of land that will be used to create a place for fishermen to park and camp at the popular launch immediately downstream of the Stevensville Bridge.

The last hurdle for a new dedicated fishing access site on the Bitterroot River at Stevensville is fast approaching.

It will be a surprise if it takes much of a jump to clear.

The proposal to build a fishing access site near the launch long used by fishermen will come before the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on Dec. 10.

With the commission’s approval, Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel said the department will be ready to move forward with the project that accepts a donation of 6.25 acres of land and makes a promise to the landowner to develop and maintain the site for public access and limited camping.

While construction could begin as early as this spring, Saffel said it’s more likely that won’t occur until fall.

It’s been quite a turnaround since last spring when the area was closed off with concrete barriers placed there by a disgruntled former landowner.

After the Fort Owen Ranch was purchased by Myla Yahraus, the barriers disappeared and the new landowner offered to donate land to create a dedicated fishing access site that will include parking, a concrete latrine, fencing, trail connections and four primitive camping spots.

Saffel said the state worked with the Town of Stevensville to expand parking opportunities on the town park property just downstream from the proposed fishing access site.

“That’s helped us protect some of the stream bank that was being impacted by parking,” he said. “That will be a big plus for the project.”

FWP is also planning on extending the bike path that runs along the Stevensville cutoff road into the fishing access site.

“I think we have had really good cooperation with the town,” Saffel said. “We’re really excited about the potential there.”

The state received 24 comments from both individuals and organizations on the proposal. None opposed the proposed acquisition and development. Two wanted a slightly different design and another pair didn’t want any camping at the site.

The current boat launch just north of the Stevensville bridge will be retained. The developed fishing access site will be constructed east of the launch.

The proposal is scheduled to come before the commission between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., on Dec. 10, at FWP Headquarters in Helena.

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Associate Editor

Reporter for The Ravalli Republic.