By Matt Rinella - March 3, 2019 - Originally published in the Billings Gazette
Several years ago, an important Yellowstone River access site on Fort Keogh was closed due to vandalism. While the closure was necessary to prevent further damage, it significantly impacted the community. This was the only consistently operational boat ramp in the area. It provided excellent bank fishing opportunities and was a popular launch for float trips ending in Miles City.
Fort Keogh, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Walleyes Unlimited recently reached an agreement with Fort Keogh to restore public access. FWP has agreed to monitor the site, and the groups have agreed to install a keycode-activated gate where authorized users will enter individualized codes obtained from FWP. This system will allow Fort Keogh and FWP to prevent unauthorized access while tracking authorized users.
The only remaining issue is raising the roughly $10,000 needed for the gate. So far, BHA has pledged $3,500 and the Montana Wardens Association has pledged $500. To help close the funding gap, BHA is hosting a Pint Night fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Tilt Würks Brewhouse in Miles City. All funds raised will go directly to the gate project.
This project is a win-win for Fort Keogh and the public. So, whether you’re an angler, hunter, bird-watcher or boater, please consider helping restore access to the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48.
Matt Rinella is the Montana BHA Region 7 Board Member. He lives in Miles City.