Ravalli County Fish & Wildlife Association History

Late 1800's - Early 1900's

  • The RCFWA was referred to in an article dated June 24, 1896 in The Westerns News as the "local gun club" when Joe Booth, deputy state game warden was called to Hamilton to answer complaints that the lumber mill was blowing shavings and sawdust into the river. Mr. Booth furnished the company (ACM) with plans for a fish ladder which will be installed when the water goes down.
  • Another article dated August 29, 1900 in the Western News voiced concerns from "the gun club" over the amount of game taken by the Indians from the Jocko Reservation in the Mineral Hill country in the West Fork Forest Reserve and that the miners on Hughes Creek were not allowed this same privilege.
  • Though there was a nucleus of elk in the southeast portion of the Valley, the Club raised freight money to have over 100 Yellowstone elk shipped to the Bitterroot in 1912.
  • A few other notes of interest I found in our records. Pete Smithey; (unknown address) 500 prairie chickens flew over his home in one flock, about 1899. Glen Kohls; Shot some prairie chickens as late as the early 1930's north of Woodside. Rainbow and brook trout were not in the Bitterroot River until Marcus Daly released them from his hatchery east of Grantsdale in the 1890's. The state of Montana purchased his hatchery in 1940 and stopped operation there in 1961. Mrs. Marcus Daly released Mr. Daly`s Chinese pheasants and Bob White quail soon after his death in 1900. This was probably the start of these birds in the valley.

1920's - 1940's

  • During the 20's and 30's RCFWA was known as the Hamilton Sportsman`s Club. They were incorporated in 1927 in order to own property for fish rearing ponds. (unsure of where these were or what happened to them.)
  • State Game Department management for the valley was based almost entirely on the Club`s recommendations. Activities were related to predator control, installing fish barriers and distributing salt for deer and elk.
  • In the early to mid 1940's, emphasis was placed on predator control of various birds and mammals. (Some of these are illegal at present time.)
  • 1943; the Club recommended open season on doe deer with a limit of 400 in the East and West Fork.
  • 1945; The Club recommended the State Department of F & G close hunting of Hungarian partridge in the Bitterroot.
  • 1945 - 1950; Sent resolutions to F & G and Federal Government against use of cyanide and 1080.
  • 1946; An elk herd of 376 was counted in the Gird Creek area.
  • The Club paid $400 for fish screens on the Republican Ditch, along with money from the Missoula Club and F & G.
  • A resolution was send to Congressman Mike Mansfield to defeat firearm registration.
  • 1947; October, 1500 Chinese pheasants were released, 500 were one-year old birds.
  • Voted $90 to Johnson Flying Service for dropping 6 tons of salt on elk ranges. (This practice is illegal at present time.)
  • 1948; Sent resolution to F & G for flyway duck hunting seasons, not based on state boundaries.
  • New incorporation papers changing the name from the Hamilton Sportsmen Club to the present Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association.
  • 1949; RCFWA and the public donated $286 for hay for winter elk feeding. (Illegal at present time)

1950 - 1970

  • 1950; The Stock Farm ditch was seined and 800 -900 legal size fish up to 2 pounds were released into the Bitterroot River.
  • 1952; Planted trout for F & G in 23 Bitterroot high lakes.
  • 1953; Education committee appropriated $350 for books and journals for public library.
  • 1954; 80 members at a regular meeting at the height of a cattle - elk range use controversy. (No other information on this)
  • RCFWA paid for lumber and members made elk proof panels for 15 - 20 hay stacks.
  • 1954; 400 pounds of grain purchased for farmers to feed upland birds. 500 pheasants released this year.
  • 41st Annual fund-raiser netted $350.00
  • 1955; $480 appropriated to the education committee.
  • Recommended F & G discontinue pheasant release program in favor of pheasant habitat improvement program.
  • 1958; Appropriated $500 for water in perpetuity out of Painted Rocks Reservoir for fish habitat. Since that time F & G has been paying this fee.
  • 1963; Planted more fish in high lakes.
  • 1964; Recommended to the F & G there be no year around open season on trout fishing in the Bitterroot river.

1970 - 1990

  • 1971; Voted $250 to the Montana Wildlife Federation for legislative lobbying.
  • 1975; Cumulative total of about 250 books, $1500 value placed in the Hamilton Public library.
  • Mid 1980's - Current; Working with F & G to manage for age diversity in mule deer herds.
  • 1983; Started hosting our first sit down banquet and auction in Florence. It was moved to Hamilton in 1994.
  • Little information is found regarding projects during this time and all minutes were destroyed in the 2003 fire at Teller Wildlife Refuge where our records were stored. Previous years information had been condensed and in a file with secretary.

1990 - 2004

  • 1990; The beginning of the "Nick Kramis" Conservation Award to deserving persons who have worked hard and tirelessly for the benefit of wildlife.
  • 1991; Spearheaded a lawsuit, along with other wildlife clubs in the state against the Department of State Lands in objection to what we felt were poor management practices for the state lands in the East Fork regarding the grazing of domestic sheep in an area where big horn sheep inhabit. After winning this suit, State wide guidelines were instituted on public lands.
  • Mid 1990's; Donated to the F & G for goat surveys.
  • Donated towards sheep signs on the East Fork road.
  • Nominated the Ruffato Ranch for the Land Stewardship award.
  • Built, distributed and helped set up wood duck boxes and Canadian goose nesting platforms.
  • 1992; Donated towards the Como Dam project.
  • Campaigned to get the brow tine only regulation instituted for elk.
  • 1993; Initiated the Dick Ormsbee Scholarship.
  • 1996; Club had 40 acres donated to them by 5 past club members; HS Thane, TM Skinner, Fred Lewis, Claude Johnson and VC Hollingsworth.
  • 1998; Initiated a seed wheat and shrub program for club members.
  • 1999; Initiated a 2nd Scholarship called the "RCFWA Memorial Scholarship."
  • 2001 - 2003; Donated money to Teller Wildlife Refuge for habitat improvement.
  • Mid 1990 - 2004. Continue to support the I -143 effort of eliminating game farms from the State and the ban of canned shooting.

2004 - FUTURE

  • Continue to work on legislative issues regarding wildlife issues.
  • Continue to work with F & G and provide input regarding season settings and permit numbers.
  • Continue to work for wildlife and ensure their place in the valley for future generations.

Constitution of the RCFWA