Blackfoot River Opens To The Confluence - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Blackfoot River Opens To The Confluence

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BONNER -

For the first time in 100 years you can float the river from the fishing access site above Bonner, down to where the Blackfoot River meets the Clark Fork.

The waters aren't completely free and clear though.

Tuesday is only the first day that the confluence has been open, but people are already taking full advantage of it. This is the first day since they took out the Milltown Dam that you can float.

"It's exciting to have a piece of public water open up so we can take advantage of it," said Rick Marcum, a recreationist who works in a fly fishing shop.

It hasn't been easy breezy to get to this point, and the work isn't totally done. Even though the Blackfoot River is open, the Milltown superfund restoration work that's going on to the right bank just downstream of the I-90 bridges is still closed, as well as Milltown State Park. FWP says there's no way to know how much money they've poured into the cleanup.

"I'm not entirely sure if we added it all up how much it would be, but a lot. It was a huge, huge effort and I think everyone is happy it is opening today," said Christine Oschell, a spokeswoman for Montana FWP.

You've got to look out for logs and even pieces of old metal saws. Some fragments of the old mill's equipment have washed up on shore, meaning a barefoot stroll along the river could end in Tetanus.

Getting around the I-90 bridge piers is a good idea too. You could get stuck, or flip over, in the rapid water flow around the posts.

"Rivers do that, they adapt constantly and this river is still adapting to the big change that's happened," said Oschell.

"I just have heard that the bridge pile-ons can be tricky, but I think if you know how to row a boat I think you're okay in there," said Marcum.

Just make sure that whatever you're riding, you know how to drive it.

In May, the FWP commission passed a new rule that says you can't be on the Blackfoot below the weigh station fishing access between May 1 and June 30. That's when the water is highest.  

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