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(1) The department will issue a decision regarding applications no later than February 1 for open water contests or October 1 for ice-fishing contests. The department may approve an application as submitted, approve an application with modifications or deny an application. When an application is approved with modifications, the applicant must respond to the department within 20 days of receipt of the department's written decision if the modifications are unacceptable. Failure to do so will constitute acceptance of the decision.

(2) An application may be denied if in the opinion of the department any of the following are found to exist:

(a) the contest will have detrimental impacts on fish populations, the aquatic ecosystem or the surrounding area;

(b) the contest would conflict with management goals for the host water;

(c) the contest conflicts with other proposed contests or intended uses of the host water;

(d) the proposed contest would be held during a period of heavy recreational use on the host body of water, increasing the likelihood of conflicts with other users; and

(e) there is significant public opposition to the proposed contest based on biological or recreational conflict concerns. Public comments will be provided to the sponsor on request.

(3) Conditions may be placed on contests to:

(a) minimize fish mortality in catch and release contests;

(b) regulate harvest;

(c) reduce user conflicts; or

(d) require supplemental trash removal, restroom facilities, or other maintenance at department access sites when routine facilities and maintenance are inadequate for the contest.

(4) Contests may not be scheduled and approved for consecutive weekends on any body of water less than 100,000 surface acres in size.

(5) Contests may not be scheduled on holiday weekends, including but not limited to Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

(6) The department will notify the applicant of its decision by mail. The department shall notify the public with an announcement released to all major state newspapers and through notice published on the department web site.

History: 87-3-121, MCA; IMP, 87-3-121, MCA; NEW, 1987 MAR p. 1627, Eff. 9/25/87; AMD, 1995 MAR p. 367, Eff. 3/17/95; AMD, 2002 MAR p. 1073, Eff. 4/12/02.

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