This story got buried in my newsfeed last week and in case you missed it too, we're about to get another place to fish on the Yellowstone River. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced in a release on 3/17 that the old bridge near Reed Point is set to become a Fishing Access Site.

The bridge, approximately half-way between Columbus and Reed Point, was deemed unsafe in 2020 by the Montana Department of Transportation and has been closed to the public. The bridge, known as Twin Bridges, has been in service since 1931 and MDOT said heavy scouring under the piers has made it unsafe. The crossing served just one residence and they were compensated by MDOT to relocate. Demolition and removal of the bridge is set for this year. The train bridge will remain in use.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks purchased the 45 acre islands for $54,050 from MDOT using money from the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP). NRDP is a fund that resulted from a settlement from the Exxon Mobile pipeline spill in Laurel in 2011. MT FW&P says during cleanup from the spill, crews removed large woody debris (such as downed Cottonwood trees) that is essential for healthy river habitats.

With the purchase of Cottonwood Island, Montana FW&P hopes to restore some of the habitat that was removed in the Laurel area in the new site. Montana anglers will gain another Fishing Access Site in the process. MT FW&P says the area will remain undeveloped, so don't expect boat ramps or outhouses. You'll likely be able to drag a raft or canoe to the river from the parking area. They add,

The purchase will leave island wildlife habitat intact and provide float-in opportunities for camping and other outdoor recreation.

This is a great spot for Yellowstone River access and a convenient place to get out and stretch your legs for a minute (maybe toss a quick line?) on that next trip from Billings to Bozeman.

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