Montana: Opinions Mixed on COVID-19 Land Closures
UPDATE 4/8/2020 4:45 PM. Montana FW&P announced paddlefish season has been cancelled on the Yellowstone and Lower Missouri River.
When Governor Bullock first instituted the stay-at-home policy a few weeks ago, many noted that he encouraged residents to get outside and enjoy our wide-open public lands and recreational areas. Getting out to the woods or the lake or the river seemed like a great way to socially distance.
Shortly after the National Park system said that Yellowstone and Teton National Parks will be closed due to COVID-19 (like a week after they announced there would be no admission fees), other public access areas in Montana started limiting access or amenities.
First, the Forest Service pretty much shut down all public facilities like public campgrounds and trail head restrooms. Montana FW&P did the same thing to many public access areas, including some boat ramps. This week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they are closing all public camping areas that they manage at Fort Peck. The story in the Billings Gazette stated that as-of now, boat ramps and other access points are still open to the public but access is subject to change.
I guess the theory behind a lot of these closures is to limit groups of people congregating at bottleneck areas. Another concern is out-of-state campers crowding Montana camping areas to hide out from the coronavirus. Whatever the reason, I've seen lots of frustration from many Montana residents on social media about the closures and rules being enacted regarding access to public lands.
What do you think? Are we being too cautious? Let us know in the Comments or Chat on the free Hawk Mobile App.