The Bureau of Land Management is considering adding four camping spots to allow more multi-day floats along the Blackfoot River.
Last week, the BLM Missoula Office announced that the public would have until July 2 to weigh in on their proposal to add four campsites on public land along the Blackfoot River.
The Missoula Office had an original comment deadline of June 18, but the BLM has created a new website that appears to make searches easier but which failed to pull up the Blackfoot River float plan. So the deadline was extended.
The Blackfoot River Recreation Corridor extends about 32 miles from the Russell Gates fishing access and campground to Johnsrud Park. During the summer months, the river is packed with fishermen upstream, and floaters take advantage of stretches farther down.
The proposed BLM site farthest upstream would be near Sperry Grade Road southeast of Clearwater Junction. The other three sites would be along the reach where the Blackfoot River leaves Highway 200 between Corrick’s Riverbend and Johnsrud Park.
Each site was chosen for its sandy beaches and will be marked with a posted camping sign. The sites are limited to 10 people for a maximum of two nights.
Campers are required to pack out their waste and hang their food and attractants because they are in grizzly bear habitat. Grizzly bears have expanded their range south of the Northern Continental Divide recovery area in the last decade and are routinely reported in the Lower Blackfoot River Corridor
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks suggested the four sites because people are already camping illegally at most of them and because they are spread out enough along the river for good multi-night trips.
In its 2010 Blackfoot River Recreation Management Plan, FWP identified the need for float-in camping sites along certain stretches of the river, especially the reaches that the BLM manages as well as a couple others.
But, about two-thirds of the land along the Blackfoot River is privately owned. In recent years, private landowners have allowed designated float-in campsites overseen by FWP on their property. During the past decade, FWP added five reservable float-in camping sites: two at Corrick’s River Bend, one at Ninemile Prairie, one at Clearwater Bridge and one outside the recreation corridor at River Junction.
In 2015, the Landowners agreement was reviewed and updated through a public process. As part of the revision, float-in campsites were included as being a need and upon signing the landowners agreed that some would be developed within the recreation corridor.
The BLM manages about 13% of the land along the Blackfoot River. Recently, the BLM bought land from The Nature Conservancy adding a bit more public land between Corricks River Bend FAS and Johnsrud Park FAS.
BLM project manager Maria Craig said the Missoula office has been working on adding public land campsites but other projects such as the recent resource management plan took priority.
“Additional float-in sites will give the public more opportunity to experience the Blackfoot River in a unique way,” said Christine Oschell, FWP Blackfoot River manager.
Members of the public are invited to comment by emailing BLM_MT_Missoula_FO@blm.gov. For more information, contact Maria Craig at 329-3914.
Contact reporter Laura Lundquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.