The weekend commonly referred to as the “gateway to summer,” Memorial Day is upon us, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has some tips for staying safe no matter what outdoor activities you choose.
Vivaca Crowser, Education and Programs Manager for FWP Region 2, started with some water safety tips. She said it might still be a bit early to float the rivers in the area.
“This time of year the water levels are high and rising and in most places the water is moving really fast and it’s cold,” Crowser said. “Just make sure, especially if you’re heading out on a river, that you’re wearing your life jacket and scouting ahead to be very careful. In many cases it is best to avoid some of this fast moving cold water until it subsides a bit here later in the spring. Be sure to review all of these water safety tips, have a life jacket with you, wear it, and be safe out there.
Crowser said if you’re hiking in the forests of western Montana this holiday weekend, it’s definitely a time to be “bear aware” because the bears are out of their dens and some may have cubs.
“If you can travel with someone when you’re biking or hiking, that’s always a good idea,” she said. “Make some noise, pay close attention to any ‘bear sign’ that may be on the trail, and of course have your bear spray with you. Have it handy and know how to use it. There are some great videos online that can explain this to you and we will also be offering a free clinic on Monday June 13th to anyone in Missoula who would like to come to our office (3201 Spurgin Road) and run through some of these safety tips for bears and practice using this bear spray.
After recent reports of crowded campgrounds and forest trails, Crowser encourages those looking for campsites to register online before travelling.
“If you’re heading to a Forest Service site, that’s a different place than if you’re heading to a Fish, Wildlife, and Parks State Park,” she said. “For example, on the FWP website, you’ll find the state park reservation link and it’s a great place to go. You’ll also find lots of great online resources on our website, along with some tips So the things to remember there; make sure you have an idea of where you’re going, what to expect, how many parking spaces, and carpool when you can.”
You can also encounter bad actors over Memorial Day weekend, so Crowser has provided information for contacting the authorities.
“If you’re out there and you see something that’s harming the place, illegal or whatever, gather as much information as you can,” she said. “So if you can get a license plate or any other details, write that down. And then you can 1-800-TIP MONT. It’s a 24/7 line. If you spot something, you can just call and report this stuff, and we’ll respond and see what we can do.
Crowser said a successful trip always ends safely at home.
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