Starting July 1 You’ll Have to Pay to Picnic on Montana Rivers
A Tweet from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks caught my attention today, informing Montanans about a new fee, effective July 1st to use State Fishing Access Sites (FAS), Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), and State school trust land. Even if you're not fishing or hunting.
If I'm understanding this correctly, I now have to spend $8 annually to enter a fishing site like Buffalo Mirage (aka Sportsman's Park). Kids between 12 and 17 also must pay a fee of $4 annually. The new rule seems to apply to any outdoor activity such as rockhounding, floating the river/using a boat ramp, hiking, having a picnic, looking for mushrooms, or simply enjoying a cold beer on the river. Wow.
You'll have to have a Conservation license.
Hunters and anglers already pay for this when they purchase tags or a fishing license each year. It's been that way for decades. Now, even if you don't hunt or fish, you and your kids will need one too. Citing the rising use of State public lands, Montana FWP said in a press release,
By requiring an annual conservation license for everyone 12 and older who uses these sites, we’re ensuring the cost of maintenance is shared by all users, not just hunters, anglers, and trappers.
There are more than 330 Fishing Access Sites and 77 Wildlife Management Sites in Montana. The new fees do not apply to Montana State Parks, which many residents opt to pay through their vehicle registration.
Opinion: This is a bunch of crap.
Spending time at the river or other Montana public lands is one of the few free, fun activities available. It's not that I can't afford it. A family of four with kids in the age range of 12 -17 will only pay $24 a year. And I don't have an issue supporting public lands.
My problem is that it reeks of basically another money grab by the state. FWP is already getting a fat, 20% cut of the newfound marijuana taxes. Which to date have generated over $67 MILLION for state coffers. Montana residents are getting slaughtered by insane property tax hikes, and soon our power bills are about to skyrocket, thanks to the Public Service Commission and the monopoly on energy in our state. At some point, enough is enough.
You can buy the now-mandatory license you'll need for Boat Float (or whatever else you want to do at the water) and find more details about the new rules HERE.