Hebgen ice-fishing tourney guarantees $10k first prize

West Yellowstone will host a North American Ice Fishing Circuit national qualifying tournament Jan. 13-15 with a $10,000 top prize guaranteed.

The ice fishing tournament takes place on Jan. 15 and is open to any two-person team. Teams can register up until 6 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the reception and rules meeting.

The tournament is located on Hebgen Lake. Kirkwood Resort and Marina is the starting point.

The weekend of activities starts on Jan. 13 with an informal introduction for people new to ice fishing at 5 p.m. at the West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Center, 315 Yellowstone Avenue.

Starting around 8 a.m. on Jan. 14 pro staff and representatives from ice-fishing product companies will be demonstrating the latest techniques and equipment on Hebgen Lake. Meet them at Kirkwood Marina.

On Jan. 15 the NAIFC will conduct the Hebgen Lake Qualifier with two-person teams fishing from approximately 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. At 3 p.m. the tournament weigh-in will be conducted at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. In addition to cash and prizes, the top 10 teams also receive an invitation to the 2015 NAIFC National/North American Championship to be held next December in Minnesota.

For more information on the NAIFC tournament events, go to www.westyellowstoneicefishing.com. To enter an NAIFC qualifier go to www.naifc.com or call Kathy Roberts at 320-252-0428.

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Children's ice-fishing camp offered at Hebgen Lake

Children will have the opportunity to learn how to ice fish for free on Jan. 14 as part of West Yellowstone's North American Ice Fishing Circuit tournament.

There will be two different starting times for Ice Camp. The first group begins at 11 a.m. with classroom instruction and demonstration of ice-fishing equipment, techniques, as well as safety, conservation and environmental stewardship at Kirkwood Marina on Hebgen Lake. Then everyone heads out on to the ice for fishing tutorials.

A second group will start in the classroom at 11:45 a.m., followed by the on-ice experience. A hot lunch will be served after on-ice demos and practice, between 12:30-1:30 p.m. Before leaving, all children who participate will receive a complimentary ice rod and tackle. Parents should make sure their children are dressed warmly, including waterproof footwear.

Kirkwood Marina is located on Hebgen Lake, 18 miles from the junctions of Highways 101 and 287 north of West Yellowstone. For directions, call 406-646-7200 or go to westyellowstoneicefishing.com/directions. To register for the classes or for more information, log on to kidsnsnow.org.

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Yellowstone winter use plan now online

Yellowstone National Park's Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan is available to read online.

The plan provides a breakdown on winter use management in Yellowstone, outlining a strategy to identify which park resources and winter topics should be closely monitored and evaluated, how they should be monitored, and how the National Park Service should engage the public throughout the process.

The plan was developed with input from working groups comprised of members of the public. It also reflects public comments from the draft Adaptive Management Plan released in May of 2015 and a public meeting held in August of 2015.

For information about winter use in Yellowstone, visit www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/winteruse.htm.

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Snowshoe at Moose Creek cabin

Join us for a snowshoe and open house at Moose Creek cabin on Monday, Jan. 2. We will be guiding snowshoe hikes at 12:30 and 2 p.m. -- and will provide snowshoes for kids and adults free. Then come relax by the fire with a warm beverage in the historic Moose Creek cabin.

Getting there: From Helena, head west on Highway 12 and turn left on the Rimini Road. The cabin will be on the left in approximately 6 miles. The event is sponsored by the Montana Discovery Foundation, and everyone is welcome.

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Smith River rule changes open to comment

Montana State Parks is seeking comment on proposed changes to the Smith River State Park and River Corridor Biennial Rule. Public comments will be accepted through Thursday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m.

The Smith River Biennial Rule sets fees, permit requirements and guidelines for private, commercial and landowner float trips on the popular Smith River.

The proposed draft Smith River Biennial Rule would change language related to home-made bear-resistant storage containers for storing food, garbage and other attractants. While certified home-made containers will still be allowed, capacity for certifying these containers is limited. Removing language which references these containers specifically would better align visitor expectations with the limited availability of certification professionals. 

The draft rule received tentative approval from the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board on Dec. 14. To review the proposed biennial rule, go to stateparks.mt.gov and click on "Public Comments."

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Comments may be mailed to: Smith River Biennial Rule Comments, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls, MT 59405.

For questions about the Smith River State Park and River Corridor Biennial Rule contact Colin Maas at 406- 454-5857 or cmaas@mt.gov.

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Ice fishing class part of Outdoors-Woman program

The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program is sponsoring an ice fishing class Jan. 20-22 in Seeley Lake. 

This class is for beginning or intermediate female anglers who want to learn the basics or improve their fishing skills. Participants must attend the evening class on Friday, Jan. 20, from 6-9 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Community Center.

Fishing on the ice will take place Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 21 and 22, beginning at 8 a.m., at locations near Seeley Lake. The class fee is $25 and includes lunch on Saturday.

Participants do not need a fishing license as this class has been issued a license exemption. Loaner ice fishing equipment is also available.

For more information about the class, contact Kim Driscoll at 406-529-2763 or email Kim at: kimfdriscoll@yahoo.com. Registration forms are available on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov under Becoming an Outdoors-Woman.

For information about the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program contact Liz Lodman at 406-444-9940; or email Liz Lodman at: llodman@mt.gov.

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Comment sought on lighted nocks, turkey quotas, drones

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is requesting public review and comment on allowing lighted nocks through Jan. 13. The proposal was brought to FWP by the Montana Bowhunters Association and evaluated using a recently adopted Fish and Wildlife Commission policy.

More information on the subject can be found online at FWP's website under “Opportunity for Public Comment” at fwp.mt.gov/hunting.

Comments are also being sought on 2017 spring turkey quotas in Region 3 and in Cascade County in Region 4. The proposals are meant to increase hunter opportunity as turkey populations grow.

FWP is proposing: In Hunting District 399-20 increase general licenses from 200 to 400; in HD 399-21: increase youth licenses from 25 to 100; in HD 445-20: increase Cascade County general licenses from 10 to 15.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is also proposing to adopt a new rule pertaining to the use of drones in wildlife management areas.

For more information call the Wildlife Division office at 406-444-2612 or email at fwpwld@mt.gov. Comments will be accepted: online; in writing sent to PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701; and by email to fwpwld@mt.gov.

Final adoption of the measures is scheduled for the February 2017 commission meeting.

First Day Hikes offered at state parks

Montana State Parks will host guided hikes at state parks across the state as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hike initiative on New Year’s Day on Sunday, Jan. 1.

Make a New Year's resolution to your health and happiness by kicking off 2017 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. This year, First Day Hike events will be offered at 11 state parks throughout Montana. These free, family-friendly hikes are easy to moderate in difficulty and range from 1-5 miles in length.

Hikes will be offered at Bannack State Park, Wayfarers State Park, Travelers' Rest State Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Placid Lake State Park, Missouri Headwaters State Park, Makoshika State Park, Lone Pine State Park, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park and Cooney State Park.

For more information on a First Day Hike event near you visit: http://stateparks.mt.gov/calendar/.

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