Progress is being made in reopening Bureau of Land Management recreation areas and boat launches affected by the recent Upper Missouri River flooding and ice flows, which caused closures and delayed openings.
The Kipp boat launch and part of the campground have reopened two weeks ahead of schedule.
“Recognizing the importance of this site to the public and the upcoming Paddlefish season, BLM coordinated an extra team effort using the limited resources available to ensure that the public will have access to the river and campground facilities at Kipp,” said Dave Lefevre, the acting Manager of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Significant flooding and ice flows occurred along the river during the week of March 9-15, 2014, causing damage and obstructions.
The Kipp boat launch was covered by a 15-foot swath of ice with blocks as big as four feet. Vault toilets were flooded and lifted off their foundations. Signs were knocked over by ice blocks, phone lines were rendered inoperable and other damages occurred.
“This was a total team effort to open Kipp Campground two weeks ahead of schedule, so the public can pursue river activities,” said Shane Hershman, the Central Montana District Administrative Officer.
“Ed Bradley and Mike Sweeney (BLM Engineering Equipment Operators) had to deal with moving huge blocks of ice to get to the boat launch. They also graded roads and cleaned 17 camp spots we did not think could be opened until this summer,” Hershman explained.
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Supervisory Outdoor Recreation Planner Mark Schaefer and Park Ranger Brian Woolf were involved in the efforts, according to Hershman. “Mark Schaefer and Brian Woolf also prepared facilities to open the campground. It was a great effort, since the BLM heard the concerns of local residents and got Kipp back to limited operation earlier than first envisioned,” he said.
The following is the status of the locations:
-Fort Benton Boat Launch (maintained by the City of Fort Benton), is currently open. There has been no damage. The dock has not been placed in the water for the season yet. The dock will be placed when conditions stabilize.
-Wood Bottom Recreation Area (in Loma, MT), the campground and boat launch are now open. However, erosion has affected the parking areas and boat launch. There is excessive mud in places. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required to launch watercraft.
-At Coal Banks Landing Recreation Area (near Virgelle, MT), the campground and boat are now open.
-Judith Landing Recreation Area by the P/N Bridge – (northwest of Winifred), the boat launch is now open. The campground is closed until May 15.
-The James Kipp Recreation Area (where US Highway 191 crosses the Missouri River due south of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana), the boat launch and Loop A of the campground are now open. The high-water mark for this flood event exceeded the 2011 flood by one foot.
With significant snow accumulation yet to melt in the Upper Missouri River Drainage Basin more flooding may occur this spring creating potential hazards. Anyone planning activities on or near the Upper Missouri River should get all available information prior to departure.
“We understand everyone is eager to enjoy spring time recreation on their public lands. We encourage everyone to be cautious when traveling across or recreating on public lands,” stated Stan Benes, the BLM’s Central Montana District Manager.
The point of contact for more information about these locations is Supervisory Outdoor Recreation Manager Mark Schaefer at the BLM Fort Benton River Management Station (406) 622-4000 or (406) 622-4015.
Current flow information can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website at: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mt/nwis/current?type=flow
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument covers about 375,000 acres of BLM-administered public land in central Montana. The 149-mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River flows through the Monument.
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Office is located at 920 NE Main St., Lewistown, MT 59457. For more information, call (406) 538-1950.
Visitors can also experience the cultural and natural history of the monument at the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center in Fort Benton, Montana.
The Center interprets the grandeur and wonder of Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Interpretive Center keeps alive stories of hawkers, riverboat captains, bullwhackers, paddlefish, sturgeon, and bighorn sheep. Hands-on exhibits, special educational programs and riverside walking trail, tell about the area’s cultural and natural history.
For more information, contact Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center, 701 7th St., P.O. Box 1389, Fort Benton, MT 59442, (406) 622-4000 or toll free (877) 256-3252.
For the latest BLM news and updates visit us on the web at www.blm.gov/mt, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BLMMontana, or follow us on Twitter @BLM_MTDKs.
(After PHOTO) Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Park Ranger Brian Woolf inspects the recently cleared James Kipp Recreation Area boat launch April 9, 2014. The Kipp boat launch and part of the campground reopened two weeks ahead of schedule.
|(Before PHOTO) The yellow arrow in the center of this March 19, 2014 photo points to Joe Nardinger, a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger, with his arm raised. Nardinger is dwarfed by a 15-foot swath of ice with blocks as big as four feet covering the James Kipp Recreation Area boat launch.|