The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission denied a request from Stevensville resident Jim Crews to exclude hovercraft from the definition of a vessel and exempt hovercraft from the 20 mph limit on motorized craft on the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers. The commission received the petition in October of 2019 and dismissed it at a meeting held on January 6, in Helena.
The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks recommended denial of the petition, arguing that to provide an exception for one watercraft would be contrary to the statutory definition and would encourage other similarly situated to do the same.
“In 2011, the department undertook an extensive river recreation planning process that included heavy public involvement. The conclusion of this process resulted in the current regulations on the Clark Fork, its tributaries and the Bitterroot. These regulations have extensive public support in Region 2. These regulations are no more restrictive towards hovercraft than they are any other vessel rated at over 20 horsepower. Providing an exception for one would encourage others,” the agency stated.
Although not officially taking public comment on the petition, the commission received about 70 comments from the public. All but two were opposed to changing the rules.