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Scratchgravel Hills (copy)

The Helena Young Professionals are planning a wildflower hike in the Scratchgravels at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25. 

Fly casting class at Montana Wild

Join us from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, April 22, at Montana Wild, 2668 Broadwater Ave., for an introductory fly casting class. All equipment will be provided.

Pre-registration is required and students must be at least 12 years old. Call 406-444-9944.

Hike in the Scratchgravels

Join Helena Young Professionals for a 3.5 mile loop hike in the Scratchgravels at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25. Elevation gain is minimal, and the pace will be slow enough to admire/identify wildflowers. If you have wildflower identification book or app, bring it along. We'll have a few extras for those who don't have those resources, but don't forget to bring water.

No need to be a HYP member-- all are welcome. Including dogs. (As long as they are dog and people friendly off leash and you are willing to pick up after them.) If you'd like to carpool, plan to meet at the fairgrounds by the recycling bins at 5:45. Otherwise meet at the trailhead at 6 p.m. off Echo Drive. Register 24 hours in advance by visiting www.helenayoungprofessionals.org and clicking the events tab.

Smith River State Park open for float season

Montana State Parks announced today that Smith River State Park opened for floating on Monday, April 15. The park opening had been scheduled for April 1 but was delayed due to safety concerns caused by excessive ice and snow on the river.

Conditions in the park have improved and the river is free of floating hazards from ice. Snow has melted-off at Camp Baker; however, campsite availability may be limited due to soft ground conditions in some areas. While most boat camps on the river are open, some remain closed due to ice and snow.

For more information contact Colin Maas at 406-454-5857.

Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting upcoming

The commission meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 25, and will be streamed live via video to all FWP regional offices. FWP Headquarters is located at 1420 E. Sixth Ave.

The commission will make final decisions on the following topics:

  • Canyon Ferry no-wake zones
  • Statewide Fisheries Management Program & Guide
  • Amendments to administrative rule regarding the Bitterroot River Commercial Use Permit restrictions
  • Glendive Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture Paddlefish Grant Committee
  • Biennial closure of White Bear Fishing Access Site
  • Little Muddy Creek Fishing Access Site easement
  • Pig Farm Fishing Access Site lease
  • Dailey Lake Fishing Access Site easement
  • Bridge 51 Fishing Access Site lease
  • 2019 migratory bird regulations, seasons and closures
  • Sharp-tail grouse reintroduction
  • Thompson Fisher conservation easement amendment
  • Mt. Haggin WMA, land transfer to Montana Department of Transportation
  • Spotted Dog WMA grazing lease
  • Blackfoot-Clearwater WMA grazing lease renewal
  • Three Mile WMA forest project
  • Rob Ledford WMA grazing lease renewal
  • Fleecer WMA grazing lease renewal
  • Ear Mountain WMA grazing leases renewal
  • Big Lake WMA haying lease renewal

The commission will hear the following presentations and proposals:

  • Canyon Ferry no wake zones
  • Madison Negotiated Rulemaking Committee update
  • 2019 lion quotas

The commission will also look at endorsing the following:

  • 2019-20 CSKT pheasant, partridge and waterfowl hunting regulations

For the full agenda and background on the scheduled topics, go to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov; under “Quick Links” click “Commission.”

CWD surveillance report available online

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently completed the 2018 Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Report. 

During the 2018 season, FWP collected a total of 1,922 samples from mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. FWP detected 26 new cases of CWD among wild deer, including 21 cases along the northern border in every county from Liberty County east to the North Dakota border, and five cases within the CWD-positive area south of Billings.

Prevalence of CWD in the northern CWD-positive hunting districts (HDs 400, 401, 600, 611, 670, and 640) averaged 2% in mule deer, and 1% in white-tailed deer. Among these hunting districts, prevalence varied from 2 to 4% among mule deer and 0 to 4% among white-tailed deer.

FWP has been conducting surveillance for CWD since 1998, and first detected the fatal disease in wild deer in 2017.

For information about CWD, including the complete 2018 surveillance report, visit fwp.mt.gov and click on CWD.

New firewood permits now available

New Forest Service firewood permits are now available for purchase. The annual permit allows firewood cutting through March 31, 2020.

The cost of a firewood permit from the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is $20 for a minimum purchase of four cords. Additional cords may be purchased for $5 per cord up to a total of 12 cords per individual per year.

A cord is the amount of tightly piled wood in a stack four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long. The permit allows woodcutters to remove downed timber or to cut down standing dead trees under most conditions in the national forests and grasslands in Montana, northern Idaho, and parts of North and South Dakota, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Montana and northern Idaho. 

For more information, check the firewood permit and the Forest Service’s firewood handout available from agency offices and at www.fs.usda.gov/bdnf. Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF offices are located in Wisdom, Philipsburg, Butte, Dillon, Ennis, Sheridan, and Wise River. Permits may also be purchased from Bureau of Land Management offices in Butte and Dillon. Forest Service and BLM offices are open weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The following businesses also have permits available to sell: Anaconda: Hardware Hank; Boulder: Hardware Hank; Ennis: True Value Hardware; Sheridan: McLeod Mercantile; Butte: Bob Wards and Butte Ace Hardware; Harrison: Wheat and Thistle General Store: Lima: Ralph’s Exxon; Deer Lodge: I-90 Auto Truck Plaza; Drummond: Fic’s Conoco; and Whitehall: Ace Hardware.

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