Tester demands fishing access to Fresno Dam
Senator expects more common sense in granting public access
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is calling on the Bureau of Reclamation to restore fishing access near the Fresno Dam.
Access to the dam, on the Milk River near Havre, was restricted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Prior to September 2001, the area near the base of the dam was a popular fishing spot that local residents could access on foot. Today, however, anglers must access the river further from the dam.
Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, told the Bureau to use more common sense when deciding whether Montana anglers can access public-owned lands and waterways.
“I appreciate the need to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure, but ensuring public access to land and waterways for sportsmen is very important to protect Montana’s economic vitality and rich outdoor tradition,” Tester wrote to Bureau Commissioner Michael Connor. “I expect [the Bureau of Reclamation] to reassess its current security policy and urge them to seek solutions that protect this facility while allowing anglers and sportsmen to regain access to this area.”
The area is known as a prime location for catching walleye.
Tester recently held his third meeting with his Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel in Bozeman to seek new ideas on hunting, fishing, wildlife management, and public land access.
Tester was also recently named the “Legislator of the Year” by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Tester’s letter is available below and online HERE.
April 26, 2012
The Honorable Michael L. Connor
Bureau of Reclamation
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240-0001
Dear Commissioner Connor:
I write today with concerns of restricted fishing access to the Fresno Reservoir Spillway located in Havre, Montana. A number of my constituents have shared their concerns regarding the ability for anglers and sportsmen to access the spillway by foot to fish in the after bay. I believe the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) should quickly address these concerns by reopening access to the area below the dam for recreational fishing.
I appreciate the need to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure, but ensuring public access to land and waterways for sportsmen is very important to protect Montana’s economic vitality and rich outdoor tradition. Since its construction, Fresno Dam has provided one of North-Central Montana’s most popular fishing and recreation waterways. It is my understanding that access was restricted after September 11, 2001 as a way to better protect this key part of our nation’s infrastructure. That said, prior to September 11, 2001 local fisherman had accessed the lower areas of the dam without incident.
I understand that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) will lead Fresno Dam through a comprehensive security review later in the year. During this review, I expect BOR to reassess its current security policy and urge them to seek solutions that protect this facility while allowing anglers and sportsmen to regain access to this area. I also request that your agency work with local stakeholders and members of the community in order to ensure any new plan takes into reflects not only security, but also the needs of the larger community.
As part of this process, related to Fresno Dam’s comprehensive security review, I urge that BOR hold a public hearing in North-Central Montana to hear from the area’s residents about access issues regarding the dam that are important to them. A solution which addresses the needs of local residents while protecting the security of the dam can be achieved and I look forward to working with you to identify and implement it.
I appreciate your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.