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Vol. 25, #3, September, 2016
 
In This Issue:
 
  • Yellowstone River Closure
  • Board of Outfitters updates: Renewal, Operations Plans
  • A Request from the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition
  • An On-the-water Courtesy Reminder
Yellowstone River Closure

During the week of August 8 - 12, numerous dead whitefish turned up along the banks of the Yellowstone River between Emigrant and Livingston.  Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 fisheries personnel floated the river late that week collecting sample dead whitefish to determine what caused the die-off.  Early results pointed to Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD) caused by a parasite new to the river.  

On August 19, FWP closed the river from Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary in Gardiner to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel to all water-based recreation and its tributaries to curb the spread of the parasite to other nearby rivers and reduce continued fish die-offs.  

Low flows and warm water temperatures contributed to the spread of the parasite, and controlling recreation gave surviving fish a chance to find refuge in pools "without additional stressors" from human activity.  

Current conditions, river closures and openings, background material, and other related facts are available at FWP's website.

Many area FOAM members continue to lose business, canceling trips or struggling to find other waters for booked clients.  Related businesses also face losses from restricted recreational opportunities.  While state agencies have tried to help with bridging loans and possible job retraining offers, the ongoing remaining closure in Paradise Valley is still taking its toll.  

Governor Bullock spoke during a press conference at Mallard's Rest FAS on the Yellowstone, noting the business sacrifices while emphasizing the fragility of the river system during the threat of this parasite infestation.  FOAM members also struggled to balance the loss of income with the concerns for the ongoing health of the Yellowstone River system.  

Even now, with sections of the Yellowstone reopening, much reduced fish kills, and continuing testing results showing nearly zero affect on trout populations, this outbreak remains a reality check for us all and a reminder of how closely tied we are to a healthy fisheries environment.  All the more reason to continue the campaign to "Inspect, Clean, Dry" our gear and boats to keep our resources infection free as much as possible.  

Hats off to one very smart FOAM member from Big Timber who suggested FWP track exactly how they discovered, researched, and dealt with this fish kill event in order to set protocols and procedures for future fish kill events.  Too much research is still being conducted on the Yellowstone now to find time for this discussion, but FOAM agrees it should take place as soon as possible to establish reasonable proactive preventive, contamination management, and relief efforts long in advance of any possible future outbreak.  

In the wake of this outbreak, FOAM contacted FWP PR staffers, requesting we all work with Visit MT, our state's promotion division, in order to get the word out that, while the Yellowstone suffered losses, the PKD event has not ruined the fishery.  Unfortunate comparisons with Whirling Disease in recent articles are off point; the two fish diseases have little in common, though they share a similar host-parasite life-cycle, and PKD has not wiped out trout populations during this situation.  

We need to work hard over the winter to learn more about the Yellowstone die-off and any possible long-term effect, then educate the angling public about the current resilience of the Yellowstone trout fisery to PKD affects despite infection.  According to the most recent research, the salmonids in the Yellowstone and its tributaries are far from devastated and may well become immune to future PKD affects.  This message is important for our industry and our livelihood.  This isn't "spin management"; it's getting the facts out for anglers to review so we can properly assess next year's outlook, both for the fishery and for the industry it supports.
Board of Outfitters Update

Renewal Outlook
The Business Services Division Licensing Section is continuing its work on updating and streamlining our license renewal process.  The improved online renewal processing should be ready for an early November 2016 rollout.

For the last several years, increasing numbers of FOAM outfitters have renewed their licenses online.  The process is very simple, so long as you remember your login and password.  This year is no different:  If you've forgotten your login details, go to https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/ and check the Renewal FAQ, instructions, and other helpful pointers. 
 
As for online client logs, the division has dedicated staffers working very hard to put in place a new set of online log processes using their Accela database.  These logs will also be tested this October by a selection of "power users" including MBO members and other licensees in order to iron out any problematic details and make sure the interface works well.  FOAM's Executive Director will be a member of the testing group and will offer an eBlast on the results.  In the meantime, you can continue to use the various paper forms (click on Applications/Forms, then General Forms), including a new fishing outfitter client log layout with 10 entries per page.  For this year, you may also continue to use and upload an Excel spreadsheet log layout, so long as it looks very similar to the paper form.

Operations Plans
A recently adopted operations plan rule change simplifies the operations plan application for new licensees and reduces the paperwork required to keep a plan current.  Outfitters no longer have to send or upload supporting documents like state or federal permits, private land access agreements, or similar permissions.  Instead, you only need to list the areas of operation and any required permits or permission agreements, then affirm (swear) that you can produce the supporting documents when requested as part of an audit.  

NOTE:  As part of the renewal process, outfitters will be asked to affirm that:
1) They have all the required land access permits and permission agreements, and
2) That all land-use information in the operations plan is current and accurate.  

Plan Updating
As part of implementing the new Accela database for outfitter records, the MBO and the business division request that each outfitter review then update their operations plan individually rather than rely on  transferring outfitter's op plan data from the old Microsoft Access database dubbed "HUFUS" prior licensees have used to record their op plans.  

So, FOAM outfitter members should locate their individual operations plan documents collected over the years to reference when updating your plan in the new Accela system, either online after the system is tested and ready after November, 2016, or by using the updated operations plan form.  

FOAM expects some of you have probably tossed, scattered, or lost your original op plan documents, but do your best to find them so you can enter accurate, current data about your plan.  If you need help finding some part of your plan, you may contact the division's Licensing Unit A at 406.444.6880 or 406.841.2205 for help with any documents you may have on file with the board.

Since op plan updating is not tied to renewal, there is no set deadline for getting your op plan information up to date.  However, the division hopes licensees will complete their updating by the end of the first quarter of 2017.  

To help with the op plan updating process, FOAM will send a follow-up eBlast to our outfitter members detailing how to list the required operating areas and summarize the supporting documents online or find and complete paper forms when updating your operations plan.  Spend the time between receiving this newsletter issue and the eBlast locating and arranging your op plan and supporting documents so you'll be ready to get your plan entered correctly.  
A Request from the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition

Robb Krehbiel of the YGBC asks FOAM members to join the list of supporters opposing gold mine proposals on the upper Yellowstone.

"The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition is a grassroots effort that started in Park County to oppose two large gold mine proposals in the gateway to our nation’s first national park. While the Coalition is not opposed to mining, it is concerned with the size, scale, and location of these two mines. If allowed to proceed, one of the proposed mines would be built within eyesight of the famous Roosevelt Arch that marks the northern entrance to Yellowstone. The other is proposed just north of the Yellowstone, above the world-famous Chico Hot Springs. These multinational mining companies’ aggressive exploration plans could mean drilling dozens of test holes within the coming months.
 
Concerned about the impact these mines will have on the region's economy and way of life, over 230 businesses have come together to oppose these mines. The organization I work for, the National Parks Conservation Association, is supporting the efforts of the Coalition by reaching out to other business owners in other gateway communities, like yourself, about the coalition and asking them to join. As these mine proposals continue moving forward, it is important that Yellowstone gateway businesses from across the region stand together.
 
Here's some more information on the mines, including a short video featuring several of the business owners who have already joined the Coalition: 
https://www.npca.org/advocacy/45-the-gateway-to-yellowstone-is-no-place-to-mine
 
The campaign against these mines has also garnered bipartisan support. Here's a link to an editorial from the Billings Gazette that sums up several of the concerns with the proposed gold mines. It also includes quotes from Sen. Tester and Rep. Zinke about their concerns, highlighting the bipartisan support for this campaign: 
http://billingsgazette.com/news/opinion/editorial/gazette-opinion/gazette-opinion-protect-park-county-s-outdoor-assets/article_e9a2d2c7-e6b9-54bb-a68e-9b6790f19b11.html"
 
To learn more the coalition and to add your business's name to the growing list of supporters, visit: 
http://dontmineyellowstone.com/  or call Robb Krehbiel at 406.320.0035.
 
Courtesy Considerations

From Jerry Schildroth, a Madison River guide:

I have been guiding for the last 22 seasons, both in Colorado and Montana. I have to
say I'm appalled at the lack of consideration for other guides and the public on the river.

What do I mean? 

I'm a professional fly-fishing guide, what I see on the river is that many guides lack the professionalism to earn the respect of the public and pro-guides.

Just to name a few of my observations:
- Please do not drop your anchor in the middle of the river unless you have an emergency.  Two things happen when this is done:  You upset the aquatic life on the floor of the river, and you give boats behind you nowhere to go. Imagine what would happen if you stopped your auto in the middle of a high-traffic road.  
- Pull over to the bank out of the way of oncoming boats.
- If you need to drag your anchor to slow down, please go take a rowing course and learn
to navigate your craft.
- Be considerate for all users on the river; you are not the only one there.
- Set an example for the public, be professional.  
- Offer assistance to those in front of you at the put-in/take-outs.
- Remember, the river is a moving, it is not a lake where you may camp out in your special
honey hole.   If your clients would like more than one cast to your special place, pull over
and wade it.

Thanks, 
Jerry 
FOAM Directors and Staff
Region 1 (Kooteani, Flathead)
Matt DiPaulo
837-0918

Region 2 (Bitterroot, Clark Fork)
Russell Parks
546-6305

Region 3 (Missouri)
Mark Raisler
459-8739

Region 4 (Big Hole, B'head)
Matt Greemore
684-5639

Region 5 (Madison)
Phil Sgamma
539-4239
Region 6 (Gallatin)
Pat Straub
439-4545

Region 7 (Yellowstone)
Brant Oswald
223-2047

Region 8 (Bighorn, Ft. Peck)
Matt McMeans
666-2326

Guide-at-Large Director
Jason Brininstool
370-8029

FOAM Office
Robin Cunningham
763-5436
Copyright © 2016 FOAM, All rights reserved.


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