Thursday, November 04, 2004


Spruced up boat launch


The Bozeman Daily
By Nick Gevock, Chronicle Staff Writer

Floaters who have launched their boats from just below the Madison River bridge in Bear Trap Canyon probably never knew they were driving over ancient American Indian ruins.

But the vehicles pulling boats to the river bank were inadvertently damaging a prehistoric archaeological site on the west side of the river.

To deal with the problem, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has just completed a new parking lot at the bridge over the Madison."We had to either close it off and prevent people from using it, or we needed to do something to limit the damage," Rick Waldrup, the BLM's Dillon office recreation planner, said this week.

The area contains a large archaeological site that includes prehistoric artifacts and the site of the historic Scanlon toll bridge.The BLM didn't want to see the site destroyed or the area cut off to public use, Waldrup said. So it devised a plan to protect the site by covering it up with a layer of fabric and 2 feet of gravel.

That essentially capped the site so that it's preserved.The new lot is part of the BLM's overall plan to fix up areas of the canyon that are being heavily damaged by steady use. Waldrup said they're not trying to encourage more use, but they hope the new lot will also alleviate some of the pressure on the Warm Springs fishing access farther upstream.

Bear Trap Canyon gets so overcrowded on hot summer afternoons that floaters had been forced to park on the road.

The river bank in particular was taking a beating from anglers launching boats and rafts, aggravating the erosion of the bank and the artifacts around it.

The BLM is installing a special "beaver slide" boat launch that allows boats to slip down into the river. That was needed because excavating the bank to make it more level would have destroyed part of the archaeological site, Waldrup said.

"That's going to allow us to retain that soil there and put that launch right on the bank," he said. "You'll be able to back up a trailer or pickup and just kind of push it off onto the slide.

"In addition, a wood fence was built around the lot that will hopefully keep people off of the vegetation. A pit toilet with a shallow tank was installed so that the archaeological site wasn't disturbed by digging.

Montana Troutfitters owner Josh Stanish predicted the parking lot won't take all the pressure off of Warm Springs, but even a little will help.

"The whole project's going to make it a little nicer place to use, instead of people doing anything they want anywhere," Stanish said.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?