Commission approves motorized use on Boulder River

Brett French

Watercraft with engines no larger than 10 horsepower will be able to navigate between the mouth of the Boulder River in Sweet Grass County upstream as far as Natural Bridge from April 1 through Sept. 30 each year.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously approved the new rule at its Tuesday meeting in Helena.

The decision came almost two years after about 50 landowners along the stream petitioned a commission composed of different members to ban all motorized craft on the Boulder. That commission eventually approved a motorized watercraft ban on the Shields River in nearby Park County.

Opponents had criticized the Boulder and Shields petitions as ways for landowners to restrict public use of rivers, chipping away at the state’s stream access law.

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When an almost completely new commission was appointed by Gov. Greg Gianforte, Commissioner Brian Cebull recommended the creation of a citizen’s advisory group to reconsider the Boulder River motorized ban. By December 2021, the advisory group recommended the 10 horsepower rule to the commission.

“It’s been a long process, and one thing I am happy to report is that we will be

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