On March 18, 2010 the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) released their new management plan for the Blackfoot River. The Blackfoot is among the most visited and most cherished rivers in Montana, offering beginner and intermediate whitewater paddling, shore and boat based angling, and in the heat of the summer the river draws tubers, swimmers, and sunbathers from nearby Missoula. FWP considered a range of possible management actions, including the creation of a permit system to limit use.
After conducting their analysis and considering public input, FWP decided not to institute a limited permit system on the Blackfoot. The agency indicated that they will continue to allow unlimited use, while monitoring use levels and visitor perceptions of use. It is certainnly possible that a permit system will be implemented at some point in the future based on this information. In addition, they decided to enhance existing opportunities for floating the Blackfoot as a multi-day paddling experience with dedicated campground sites and/or more remote campsites.
This plan is significant in the river management field because limited entry permit systems for day-use recreation are rare across the US, likely because they are unpopular and difficult to administer. The proposed permit system on the Blackfoot failed to garner significant public support, and ultimately the agency decided to manage visitor behavior rather than visitor numbers.
Learn more about the plan here.