Originally published in the Billings Gazette
For decades, the USDA at Fort Keogh allowed hunters, anglers and other recreationists access to the only decent boat ramp on the Lower Yellowstone River for over 50 miles. That is until vandalism and property damage led them to, understandably, lock the only access gate.
Wanting to find an amicable solution to reopen the site, the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, along with other sportsman’s groups, local businesses and local donors, recently raised $10,000 for a key-code-activated gate, which the USDA said would provide the security and accountability needed to allow the site to be reopened.
The USDA now cites additional liability challenges for delaying the project. While the USDA has said they’ve been actively seeking a solution that would give Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks an access easement, there have been no visible signs of progress. This entire project was supposed to be completed back in April. Those who have donated to the project are frustrated, to say the least.
I sincerely ask that the fine folks at USDA help us honor the goodwill and generosity of the Miles City community and the Montana Chapter of BHA. Please continue to work with FWP to find a solution. Locals, like myself, have given our time, energy and hard-earned cash to get this problem solved, and we’re not about to give up now.
Sen. Tester, Sen. Daines, and Rep. Gianforte, please work with and encourage the USDA to navigate the new challenges that are preventing this much needed and already paid for access to the Lower Yellowstone River (take action here).
My family would sure appreciate the added access and opportunity this fall.
Rachelle Schrute, Miles City
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