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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing a partnership with Musselshell County to build the Riverside Fishing Access Site west of Roundup on land bought with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money after persistent flooding.
 
The 20-acre site, on the north shore of the Musselshell River west of the intersection of U.S. Highways 12 and 87, would be the first FWP fishing access site in Musselshell County.
 
Under the agreement, Musselshell County would lease the site at no cost to FWP for 25 years with an automatic renewal. FWP would add parking, camping spots, latrines and a primitive boat ramp. The county would provide gravel and equipment to build an improved road into the site. The department would manage the area along with its other fishing access sites in south central Montana.
 
Musselshell County acquired the land with funding from FEMA, along with other tracts along the river through Roundup, after several devastating floods, compounded by encroachment of development into the river floodway. Work over the years on state highways and the Milwaukee Railroad upstream from Roundup has straightened the river and narrowed the floodplain, reducing flood capacity. Dikes associated with urban development provide some protection from small floods, but likely have contributed to increased flooding by further narrowing the floodplain.
A 2016 engineering study identified projects that could reduce peak flooding elevations. But they included removal of some dikes to widen the floodplain and county acquisition of the land. Musselshell County purchased the land and is required to hold it in perpetuity without residential or business development.  The FAS components would be consistent with this requirement and would be relatively resilient to flooding impacts.
 
The proposed fishing access site would anchor the western end of a proposed trail system along the river to the county fairgrounds and Cowbells Campground on the eastern edge of Roundup.
 
FWP fisheries biologists prepared an environmental assessment of the proposed no-cost lease and fishing access site development. They are asking for public comment on the proposal with comments due by Jan. 20, 2021. After that date, FWP supervisors will decide whether to proceed with the project.
 
Comments may be emailed to fwpregion5pc@mt.gov or mailed to:
Mike Ruggles
Montana FWP
2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
Billings MT 59105
Phone comments may be made to FWP Regional Fisheries Manager Mike Ruggles at (406) 247-2961.
-FWP-

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