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Tester calls for fast decision on Fresno fishing access

Montana's junior U. S. senator, Democrat Jon Tester, has again weighed in on a question on fishing west of Havre.

The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation held a listening session in Havre last week, which Tester had joined others in requesting, to hear comments about increasing access to the tailwaters of Fresno Dam, a popular fishing site since the dam was built in the 1930s.

Access to the tailwaters was restricted following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Retired Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fish biologist and fisherman Kent Gilge has spearheaded an effort to get some of that access back, and he submitted a proposal to do that during last week's meeting.

Tester sent a letter dated Thursday to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor asking him to consider comments and suggestions made at the meeting.

In the letter, Tester urged Connors to "look for alternative options that balance the requests of anglers with the need to provide public and infrastructure security below the dam. "

Gilge, in Tester's press release, thanked the senator for pushing for Reclamation to hold the public meeting.

"Now, I hope they take our feedback seriously and come up with a better plan that works for Montana fishermen, " Gilge said. "I'm frustrated because I think this could have been resolved over a cup of coffee. "

Reclamation Deputy Area Manager Tom Sawatzke said during the Havre meeting that the bureau has to consider the safety of people at the facility, including the chance of problems with people at the tailwater, as well as the security of the facility itself.

Tester said in his release that Reclamation should listen to the points made in the Havre meeting.

"Montana anglers know the current situation isn't working, and they've let the Bureau of Reclamation know, " he said. "It's now time for the bureau to quickly implement a new plan that makes sense for Montana outdoorsmen and folks who live in Hill County. "


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