By Robert Lucke
For recreationists heading to Bear Paw Lake in Beaver Creek Park, a new island is visible, just now being built east of the handicapped fishing access site. No, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is not building island condos and selling them, said Kent Gilge, Montana FWP fish biologist.
"Basically, we had a rare opportunity, for the water in the lake is so low and the area of the lake just out from the handicapped area is so shallow that we were able to dig a deep hole which will improve the fishing from the site," Gilge said. "And we took the dirt from the hole and built a goose-nesting island out in the lake just east of the handicapped area."
Typically, all summer long a huge bevy of geese graze on the lawns around the handicapped site. Building the island will give those geese a place to sit where they will not be as much of a nuisance as they are on the shore.
Meanwhile, on the south eastern shore of the lake workers have been busy cutting a path from a campsite to the lake itself.
"That campground never did have any access to the lake because it was surrounded by cattails," Gilge said. "Now there is canoe access from that campground to the lake and we hope to improve the rest of that campground next spring."
Gilge saw large numbers of recreationists at Bear Paw Lake and throughout Beaver Creek Park all last summer in spite of fire restrictions and the lack of water. He was amazed at the response of area residents to a long, hot summer in the Bear Paws.
"Over the last two years the general public and those who recreate really deserve a pat on the back for adhering to the fire restrictions that had been placed on them," he said. "As it relates to our fishing access site and Beaver Creek Park, because people adhered to the rules, there were no major fires despite the huge potential."
Gilge thinks the Hill County commissioners did an extra good job this summer, too, in being aware of the caution recreationists were using. They did not have to take the extra step of completely closing recreational opportunities in Beaver Creek Park.
"We know how to do it," Gilge said. "We know what we have to do and we may have to do it for another year."