• FOAMLINE newsletter
  • Updates
  • – FWP Commercial Use Rules Update
  • – U of M Outfitter Industry Survey
  • – Big Hole, Beaverhead River Rules
  • – River Recreation Management
  • Links to useful sites

FOAM Board of Directors Meeting Schedule 2006/2007

January 7Saturday9 a.m.Bozeman
February 4Saturday9 a.m.Bozeman
March 10Friday7 p.m.Bozeman
Balance of yearTo be determined

For more information, contact your director or FOAM.

FWP Commercial Rules Update

After almost a year of internal discussion, feedback from FOAM, and a round of public comments, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission voted in December, 2006, to adopt commercial use rules for “lands under the control, administration, and jurisdiction” of FWP. The new rules were finally published in late February, 2007. They include final Commercial Use Rules, final Commercial Fees, and FWP’s Commercial Use Permits Reference Guide.

How to Get Your FAS Permit

From FWP Regional HQ’s

You can call for an application to be mailed to you or stop by and apply in person

  • Region 1 – Kalispell: 406-752-5501 · 490 N. Meridian Road
  • Region 2 – Missoula: 406-542-5500 · 3201 Spurgin Road
  • Region 3 – Bozeman: 406-994-4042 · 1400 S. 19th Avenue
  • Region 4 – Great Falls: 406-454-5840 · 4600 Giant Springs Road
  • Region 5 – Billings: 406-247-2940 · 2300 Lake Elmo Drive
  • Region 6 – Glasgow: 406-228-3700 · Rural Route 1 – 4210
  • Region 7 – Miles City: 406-234-0900 · 2165 Hwy 2 East
  • Helena HQ – 406-2535 · 1420 E. Sixth Avenue


  1. Go to, the FWP online licensing site.

  2. Choose a selection based on your residency. Click Submit.

  3. Agree / disagree with the Statement of Residency. Click Submit.

  4. You’ll be at the license choices page. The FAS Permits are next-to-last at the bottom of the page. If you want to get your conservation license and fishing license combo AND your FAS Permit all at once, check the appropriate ‘quantity’ boxes for each license. Click Submit.

  5. You’ll be shown what licenses you’ve chosen and asked for your outfitter or guide license number. Fill it in and click Submit.

  6. You’ll be again shown the licenses you’ve applied for, their cost, and an additional ‘convenience fee’ of approximately $4. Click Proceed to Checkout.
  7. Fill in the information requested. Click Submit.

  8. Fill in your credit card info, click Submit for Purchase. BE PATIENT! It can take a while to process. DON’T RESUBMIT or you may be charged twice.

  9. You should see a receipt page you can print and a link to a temporary license you can use until the real one is mailed to you. PRINT AND KEEP A COPY OF THE RECEIPT PAGE. NOTE: a trial run printing of the ‘temporary license’ showed only the conservation/fishing license combo, no FAS Permit, but the FAS Permit was mailed along with the regular licenses.

NOTE: When you receive the actual license(s), you must sign in two places: once near the FAS permit and at the bottom for the license(s). Unfortunately, the FAS permit doesn’t indicate whether you’re an outfitter or guide – it only shows Outfitter/Guide – but it does show your license number and the lines:

“I am licensed by the MT Board of Outfitters as an angling Outfitter/Guide. I certify the information given is correct. I agree to comply with FWP Commercial Use Rules and understand that a violation of these rules is grounds for revocation of the permit.”

FWP Commercial Use Rules background

In November, 2005, Chris Smith, FWP Chief of Staff, requested permission from the FWP Commission to draft rules regarding commmercial use of land and waters administered under the authority of the department. His office had received many different requests for a variety of commercial uses of fishing access sites (FAS), state parks, and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). The requests ranged from erection of cell towers to conducting bird-watching tours in state parks to using FAS for loading barges with construction materials for homes being built on Flathead Lake islands. The department has long had legal authority to regulate commercial use, but had never outlined specific criteria or guidelines for such use.

The commission allowed the department to proceed, and during the following January, FWP held ‘scoping’ meetings throughout the state, gathering public comments and recommendations on just what issues were important to consider when addressing commercial use. The identified issues from the scoping results cover a lot of ground, including just how commercial use should be defined, what uses are affected, and how rules should go.

FOAM has been directly involved in development of these rules because we are the largest affected group of commercial users. FAS, both those administered by FWP and the few sites cooperatively administered by FWP and either the USFS or the BLM, are important to our business – without these critical access sites, we would have an entirely different mode of using state waters. In December, 2005, our board of directors met with Charlie Sperry, FWP’s River Recreation Management Coordinator, to discuss how we can help mold the rules that directly affect our industry. Sperry was very open, offering many good insights into the department’s initial management ideas, administrative goals, and general thinking about commercial use.

A February meeting with Chris Smith was equally useful: FOAM board members got direct answers to their questions while offering Smith our ideas and suggestions based on member feedback, insights and experience. FOAM plans to work closely with FWP throughout the proposed rule-making process to ensure reasonable, effective, and enforceable regulations are presented to the FWP Commission next fall.

Generally, our association would like to see a simple, statewide fee for use of all FWP FAS paid by outfitters and guides who use FWP land to conduct business. We suggest using the Automated Licensing System (ALS) to produce a ‘receipt’ (like a fishing license or big game tag) that fishing outfitters and guides could carry and produce on request by FWP wardens to show they’ve paid their use fee.

FWP-federal cooperative sites require matching federal regulations with the anticipated simplicity of FWP’s commercial use rules to produce an easily-administered, easily-followed set of fees and regulations for those FAS. We’re not sure how these co-op sites will go, but our board has discussed several alternatives for administering the standard federal fee model charging 3% of gross receipts generated via use of federal land. This should be adjusted for “time-on-ground”, because we’re only actively using that ground for about 30 minutes while we launch or retrieve our craft at the site. Once we’re on state waters, we are technically out of federal jurisdiction

So, once collected, where will these fees be used? We’d like to see them stay in the FWP regions where they’re generated, to help offset maintenance costs for the FAS we use. This follows the new federal fee proposals that require fees to maintain the areas where they’re paid. We hope to keep administrative costs below 10% so we can put the fee revenue right back into the sites we and the public use daily.

Most of this is very preliminary and tentative, but working together, FOAM and FWP can build a system that helps provide revenue to keep our FAS in good shape while compensating the state for our use of public ground to generate private income. We’re ready to help. Our industry can be a strong economic force in Montana’s future; it’s only fair that we contribute today to support tomorrow.

Keep an eye on this site for future discussion of our point of view. Go to FWP’s Commercial Rule site for the department’s updates.

Montana Outfitting Industry Survey

During 2006, the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana produced and distributed a survey of Montana’s outfitter industry. Both FOAM and the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) assisted the ITRR staff in development of appropriate, timely questions for both the outfitters themselves and their clients, as a second portion of the survey. Little historical or business data is available on Montana’s outfitters and their contribution to the state economy, and this survey fills that data gap with many details about outfitters, their businesses, their clients, the clients spending habits, and other general info about the industry.

  • MT Outfitting Industry Survey Summary
  • MT Outfitting Industry Survey Complete Report (draft edition)

Outfitter members may choose to review the results of this survey to better understand their own industry and to develop their own business plans that fit the needs of clientele in the future. Highlights from the survey report include:

  • Economic impact: Fishing outfitter clientele spend some $51,649,00 while in Montana.
  • Length of Stay: Fishing clients tend to come in larger groups (4.79 people/group) than the typical Montana visitors (2.59 people/group) and stay longer – 6.94 nights versus 6.02 nights for the typical visitor.
  • Quality of Experience: Individuals on outfitted trips tended to rate highest their connection to nature as a part of their experience. Similarly, our clients think Montana is blessed with abundant and beautiful natural resources that need to be cared for.

New Items
Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commercial Rules

FWP Commercial Fees

FWP Commercial Use Reference Guide

FOAM Instructions for online purchase of FAS Permit

Montana Outfitting Industry Survey Summary

Montana Outfitting Industry Survey Complete Report (draft edition)