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Bear Paw Lake Opens For Overnight Camping; Fresno Continues Restrictions

Outdoor season is here. A worldwide pandemic hasn’t stopped Montanans from staking or pulling up onto their favorite camping spot — except where it has.

Drive through Hill County’s 10,000-acre Beaver Creek, and you’ll be sure to find a dispersed convoy of RV and camping trailers. While most of Beaver Creek has been open to overnight camping, one popular spot, Bear Paw Lake, or Second Lake, has not allowed overnight camping due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

Until now. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced that starting today, people can camp overnight at most FWP-managed fishing sites and parks. That includes Bear Paw Lake, but with a possible caveat.

“There may not be full facilities at these sites, however, like latrines may not be open, etc.,” FWP spokesman Mark Kloker said in a statement.

That leaves one major local favorite spot still closed for overnight camping.

Hill County’s largest stillwater body, Fresno Reservoir, continues to restrict activity to day use as the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that manages it, works out the details on reopening the area to overnight camping.

The issue is maintenance, Jack Conner, BOR administrative officer, said Friday.

Aside from keeping the area trash free, the biggest task is bathroom maintenance, Conner said. While sanitizing and disinfecting campground bathrooms always is a priority, it is especially the case in the COVID-19 era.

The issue has been getting camp hosts and volunteers who help with upkeep to the area. As with almost everything else, the pandemic has complicated that aspect of the operation.

Nevertheless, they’re working on it, Conner said, adding it’s possible things will open up sooner rather than later.

“I think we’re pretty close,” Conner said. “We’re just not there yet.”

Write to Paul Dragu at (406) 262-7778
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