Tester Secures $780,000 to Support Montana’s Wildland Firefighters
Submitted by Sarah Feldman, Tester’s Office Staff
Continuing his efforts to support Montana’s wildland firefighters, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $780,000 to support Montana’s wildland fire management and operational response. This funding comes from Tester’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Tester was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to support IIJA, and was one of the lead bipartisan negotiators who crafted the package. “Montana’s wildland firefighters are putting their lives on the line to protect our communities this fire season, and we owe it to them to invest in their safety,” said Tester. “That’s why I fought for these targeted investments in my bipartisan infrastructure law and it’s why I’ll continue to ensure our wildland firefighters have the resources they need. This funding will go towards critical measures to prepare for and respond to wildfires, and I’m proud to see these resources work to protect communities and public lands in Big Sky Country.” Today’s funding announcement include funding for special pay supplements, training for wildland firefights, collaborative fuels management, and burned area rehabilitation activities. As the Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Tester has consistently been a champion in the effort to support firefighters and provide relief for communities most affected by wildfires in Montana. Last December, Congress passed Tester’s Fairness for Federal Firefighters Act to expand workers’ compensation and disability retirement benefits for federal firefighters, and Tester secured $4.4 billion for wildfire suppression in Montana through the 2023 government funding package.
Daines, Zinke Support Governor
Gianforte’s Action to Address Falling Flathead Lake Levels
United States Senate Staff
U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Ryan Zinke (MT-01) today issued the following statements of support for Governor Greg Gianforte’s action to address low water levels in Flathead Lake. “I commend Governor Gianforte’s work to address the situation at Flathead Lake and hope to see immediate action from the TMT. Protecting our Montana way of life will always be my top priority and I encourage the Biden administration to join us in this effort. Congressman Zinke and I will continue to push for relief to the communities around Flathead Lake as well as farmers in the Flathead Basin,” Daines said.
“Fill the lake. I support the state’s recommendation to the TMT and Bureau of Reclamation to stabilize Flathead Lake. If the feds had taken action more than three weeks ago when lake levels were 8 inches below full pool and when Senator Daines and I first raised this issue to the Commissioner and Regional Director of Reclamation we would be in a much better situation. Unfortunately, weak leadership and robust red tape led to worsening conditions that are having dire consequences on ag and the tourism economy,” Zinke said.
Daines and Zinke first sent a letter calling on the Bureau of Reclamation to release water from the Hungry Horse Reservoir to stabilize water levels in Flathead Lake at the end of June.
The July streamflow volume forecast is at 36 percent of average. The SKQ Dam project decreased the lake outflow to minimum streamflow for the lower Flathead River at the beginning of June. However, due to the low inflow into Flathead Lake, the elevation is beginning to drop and is expected to continue to drop until approximately mid-July. Without substantial precipitation or an increase in streamflow, the lowest level is anticipated to be near 22-24 inches or 2 feet below full pool.
MTFWP Seeking Applicants Committee
Submitted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking applicants to fill volunteer positions on the northwest Montana (FWP Region 1) Citizen Advisory Committee.
The CAC is a general advisory committee that provides input and feedback to FWP on diverse issues, from wildlife and fisheries management to access, state parks, outdoor recreation, and law enforcement.
The committee is designed to have a membership that represents a variety of northwest Montana communities and natural resource interests. FWP welcomes applications from anyone with an interest in natural resource issues and outdoor recreation. Applicants must live in FWP Region 1, which includes Flathead, Lake, Sanders, and Lincoln counties. To apply, contact (406) 751-4564 or email Dillon.Tabish@mt.gov. Completed applicated must be received by Friday, July 28, 2023.
Warm water, low flows prompt hoot-owl fishing restrictions on Sun,
Submitted by Montana Fish, Wildlife
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is advising anglers that portions of the Sun and lower Madison rivers will close to all fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight, beginning Wednesday, July 12. The restrictions will stay in effect until conditions improve.
The hoot-owl restrictions are issued for: Sun River – from the Highway 287 Bridge to the mouth of Muddy Creek. Madison River – from Warm Springs Boat Launch to the confluence with the Jefferson River FWP’s drought policy provides for angling restrictions when flows drop below critical levels for fish, when water quality is diminished or when maximum daily water temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three consecutive days. Water temperatures of 77 degrees or more can be lethal to trout.
Restrictions of this nature are designed to protect fish that become more susceptible to disease and mortality when conditions like this exist. FWP officials said one short-term strategy to address heat-induced stress in Montana’s wild trout is to reduce catch-and-release mortality by alerting anglers to fish only in the morning.
“Limiting fishing to only the cool morning hours can help a lot,” said Eric Roberts, FWP’s Fish Management Bureau Chief. “We’re trying to minimize any additional stress on wild trout during these mid-summer conditions of high-water temperatures and low flows.”
Anglers can reduce stress on fish at all times of the year by getting fish to net or hand quickly, keep them in the water, and revive them prior to releasing them back to river.
In addition, anglers can also help reduce stress and mortality for fish by following these practices when catching and releasing fish, though fish mortality may still occur: Fish during the coolest times of day, where permitted. Keep the fish in water as much as possible. Let the fish recover before releasing it.
If high temperatures and extremely low flows persist, anglers may want to consider fishing areas with less stressful temperatures and conditions, such as larger lakes or reservoirs, or higher elevation waterbodies.
These are the first restrictions imposed this year by FWP, but probably not the last.