State wildlife officials say that people who are ready to get outside and enjoy warmer weather and sunshine will continue to have ample opportunities, based on the phased approach to re-opening the state.
Most of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) sites typically open and operational at this time of year remain so, including all FWP fishing access sites, most state parks and those wildlife management areas that don’t have seasonal closures.
FWP notes that people heading outside still need to keep in mind Montana’s social distancing directives. Gov. Steve Bullock’s “Reopening the Big Sky” plan states that people who recreate outdoors should “avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.”
People are further asked to “exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open” and continue to follow all previously established hygiene measures.
The following FWP updates are in response to Bullock’s plan:
- Overnight camping opportunities will resume at most FWP fishing access sites and state parks on May 1.
- Campers between May 1 and May 15 may encounter reduced amenities or limited services that are typical for the opening of early-season recreational sites. Check the FWP website for specific site restrictions or closures.
- Group sites, including fishing piers, will open May 1.
- At all sites, as in other aspects of life, social distancing guidelines must be strictly followed.
- Visitor centers, park offices and FWP lobbies are still closed to the public at this time.
- Bannack State Park will remain closed until further notice.
- Float recreation on the Smith River will resume May 5. Between now and then, FWP staff will continue to work with local and federal partners on ways to safely allow recreation in this popular state park and river corridor once recreation activities resume.
- Paddlefish season (yellow tag) closures on the Yellowstone and Lower Missouri rivers are still in effect.
- Paddlefish season (white tag) on the Upper Missouri River will run as usual from May 1 through June 15. However, this year there will be no snag-and-release opportunity. Visit fwp.mt.gov for information about other paddlefishing opportunities later in the year.
- Most wildlife management areas will remain under their normal seasonal closures until the standard May 15 date.
- The suspension of nonresident spring hunting for turkey and black bear will expire April 24. As in other circumstances, out-of-state travelers must follow the governor’s 14-day quarantine directive.
- Hunter education class closures will extend through at least May 7. FWP is working to develop other class opportunities to meet the needs of students, and still align with social distancing guidelines and restrictions on the size of gatherings. As those logistics are finalized, more information will be available.
FWP will announce further updates on its website.