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Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Big Hole fishing restrictions may be triggered as water levels drop

A woman stands in a stream fly fishing
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The Big Hole Watershed Committee is warning anglers and irrigators along portions of the Big Hole River to prepare for conservation measures if flows continue to drop. The committee said Monday that a section of the river from the headwaters to the North Fork Big Hole River and another from the Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site to the river mouth are nearing flows low enough to trigger the voluntary conservation measures.

Under the 1997 Big Hole River Drought Management Plan, if flows drop further, anglers will be asked to limit fishing to earlier in the day and during periods of cooler temperatures. Irrigators will be asked to lower headgates and draw less water.

Big Hole Watershed Committee Executive Director Pedro Marques says forecasts indicate conservation measures may soon be necessary.

“It takes everyone doing their part when it’s tough so that we can maintain basic functioning of the resource for future years,” Marques says.

Members of the Big Hole Watershed Committee say cooperation with the management plan is largely responsible for keeping the river flowing during last summer’s extreme drought across the state.

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