In This Issue:

  • Support Matt Greemore for Board of Outfitters
  • FOAM Constitution Amendment, Directors Election Results
  • Recap of 2017 FOAM Annual Membership Meeting
  • Brief 2017 Legislative Update

Support Matt Greemore as the fishing outfitter representative on the Board of Outfitters.

Robin Cunningham, longtime Board of Outfitters fishing outfitter member, was not confirmed by the Senate for his fourth term, leaving the fishing outfitter seat open on the outfitter board. So, we need to let Governor Bullock know we want Matt appointed to the board.

A FOAM member for 24 years, Greemore is serving his 4th term as our Big Hole / Beaverhead region director. He has promoted and protected our industry in local and statewide councils and river management committees, including three stints working on the Big Hole / Beaverhead River Recreation Advisory Council. And, Matt testified during past and recent legislative sessions defending independent contractor status for fishing guides and outfitters, guarding our public resources, and making sure laws protect and promote our industry.

While attending many Board of Outfitter meetings over the last three years, Matt has always brought a reasonable, firm point of view to the board’s deliberations. Among other efforts, he’s supported sensible qualifications for fishing outfitter licensee applicants and urged the board to keep recording our “stream and stretch” information so we can validate individual outfitter allocation and inform the public about how we share our common resources, Montana’s great waters.

His experience with board laws and rules, issues, and meeting procedures means he can serve our industry immediately after successful appointment. In fact, Matt has been preparing for this appointment for several years in anticipation of Cunningham completing his final term on the board in late 2018.

We unanimously back Matt’s appointment and urge you to email your comments of support to Stacey Otterstrom, the Governor’s Boards and Appointments Advisor or call her at (406) 444-4405.

  • Matt Greemore deserves to be appointed as the fishing representative on the outfitter board because:
  • He’s been a licensed fishing outfitter for 24 years
  • Matt is familiar with board laws, rules, procedures, and our licensing process, so he’ll fit in immediately
  • He’s attended many Board of Outfitters meetings over the years supporting a variety fishing outfitter and guide issues
  • He’ll work to protect the public and make sure licensees act responsibly
  • He’ll work to keep board rules fair, reasonable, and uncomplicated
  • He understands the needs of fishing outfitter businesses, large and small
  • He advocates for the resources we share with the public
  • His integrity, dedication, involvement, and sincere interest in the future of the fishing outfitter and guide industry make him an excellent candidate for the Board of Outfitters

Please support Matt Greemore as the board’s fishing outfitter to represent your business interests and the future of our industry.

FOAM Directors
Russell Parks
Mark Raisler
Pat Straub
Phil Sgamma
Matt McMeans
Brant Oswald
Josh Tapp

“Matt will be a great fishing outfitter representative on the Board of Outfitters. I believe his lifelong dedication to our industry interests and his level-headed approach to complicated issues will make him a quality board member. He deserves our support.”

–   Robin Cunningham
FOAM Executive Director
Prior Outfitter Board Member

FOAM Constitutional Amendment Approved

Last December, FOAM members amended our constitution to consolidate our original Region 1 (Kootenai and Flathead areas) with our original Region 2 (Blackfoot, Clarks Fork) to create a larger Region 1 and renumber all other regions accordingly. The FOAM Board of Directors recommended the change based on the small number of FOAM members in old Region 1, the expense of that director traveling to board meetings, and creating a 7-member board to avoid voting ties.

FOAM staff will renumber all regions on renewal forms, both paper and online, then either redraw our regional map on the Find an Outfitter page or simply dropping the map and using keywords to ID the various new FOAM regions for prospective clients seeking a Montana fishing outfitter.

FOAM Board of Director Election Results

Our director elections were held during December, 2016, resulting in the re-election of Region 5 (Ennis, W. Yellowstone) director Phil Sgamma, Region 7 (Yellowstone) director Brant Oswald, Region 8 (Big Horn, Ft. Peck) director Matt McMeans, and new Guide at Large Director Josh Tapp from Missoula.

Thanks to all FOAM members who voted in both the constitutional amendment and director surveys. Your participation is always appreciated.

Recap of FOAM 2017 Annual Membership Meeting

Our 2017 annual meeting kicked off on Friday, March 17 with a free First Aid certification course hosted by FOAM board member Phil Sgamma. Eleven outfitters and guides spent two hours working through the course tailored for our specific circumstances and locales.

The next day, Saturday, March 18, covered six topics ranging from an update on the latest Board of Outfitters rules and proposals to the popular “River Emergencies Case Studies” started at last year’s meeting in Missoula. Here’s a brief review of the topics and panels:

  • Steve Gallus, MBO Executive Officer, ran through some new or proposed board rule changes and several other board actions, including
  1. Newly-approved first aid courses and a requirement to take a “hands-on” (not online) course every fourth renewal period and
  2. Updated watercraft ID stickers that will be printed with a licensee’s number instead of requiring the outfitter or guide write in their number – though the current, self-numbered stickers are acceptable until the licensee decides to replace them with the printed version
  3. Next, he reviewed the online license amendment form that allows uploading your first aid certification, liability insurance certificate(s), U.S. Coast Guard credentials, self-reported FWP citations or other violations, a successorship progress report for those taking over a deceased outfitter’s operation, watercraft ID requests for either new stickers or a temporary ID via email, a Net Client Hunting Use transfer request, or registering an Outfitter’s Assistant
  4. Steve led a discussion regarding the MBO online Accela database, outfitter records (client logs and operations plans) and new thinking on client logs, including a series of proposed spreadsheet templates that focus on individual trip data instead of client data in order to fulfill the recording needs of a variety of state and federal agencies. NOTE: These log and reporting proposals are theoretical at this time, but will be reviewed by board staff with the input of licensees and Board of Outfitter members before official rule changes are proposed or adopted.
  • Jim Hagenbarth, Big Hole area rancher, presented a land-owner’s point of view regarding irrigation techniques that aid instream flow. Covering a wide number of irrigation needs and principles, Jim educated our members on just how early flood irrigation can build up the water table to grow grazing fodder and eventually replenish the Big Hole flow via irrigation run-off, late-season small creek flow, and underground seepage. Next, he covered how we receive water – from “rain and snowflakes,” he noted – and how it can be interrupted or soaked up by trees or various geological formations before it makes it to his canals and the Big Hole. Wrapping up, Jim talked about cloud-seeding and other ideas to get more water on the land and into rivers as the climate and available water levels slowly change. This turned out to be a popular talk that educated our members and gave Jim some valuable feedback from our members.
  • Sam Sheppard, FWP Region 3 (BZN) Supervisor, and Tom Boos, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, outlined the recent mussel discoveries in Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs, how the state was planning on controlling their spread, and walked through the new invasive species updates and rules, covering the three basic steps – “Clean, Drain, Dry” – to halt the spread of invasive species in Montana. Next came a lengthy discussion about new AIS rules covering quarantine methods, boats entering Montana, boats towed across the Continental Divide (including travel over the divide on Interstate 90) in order to keep the Columbia River Basin mussel-free, opening drain plugs before leaving any water body, and the prohibition of transporting surface water in vessels. In addition, the group covered aquatic invasive species inspection stations, where the stations would be located, how soon they would be in place, and how violations would be handled.

NOTE: Even though the AIS and inspection station rules will be in place by April 15, 2017, the legislature’s budgeting process will affect how much and how soon these proposals will be funded, if at all. Understand that the department is struggling to equip and man the inspection stations, update wardens on the enforcement protocols, and get the entire state prepared for controlling invasive species.

EDITOR’s NOTE: FOAM will monitor the progress of these efforts in order to keep our members in compliance. In the meantime, the basic “Clean, Drain, Dry” methods, including periodic power-washing of your boat(s), should become part of your daily trip processes. Even though you may consider these rules and stations inconveniences, invasive species cannot be controlled without everyone’s participation. Once introduced, invasives cannot be eradicated, only managed, in order to protect the public resources we use for our income. Thanks for your current and future cooperation.

  • Brant Oswald, FOAM board member, led a discussion called “It Can Happen To You,” covering how various businesses deal with river closures due to drought or contamination. Members talked about how to inform booked clients about closures and whether they offered refunds, rebooked, or used other methods to keep clients in the loop. The group also urged new ethical considerations when we’re forced to move to other waters: Communicate with your fellow outfitters and guides in the area you’re coming to, ask about local expectations re launching, floating, stopping, anchor use, and other standard guiding techniques that may change depending on the water(s) you’re using. The upshot of this topic: Recognizing the need to communicate and adjust expectations for clients and fellow FOAM members when “it happens to you.”


  • A business panel led by Pat Straub, FOAM board member, presented a series of questions to FOAM outfitters representing three business scenarios: A lodge owner (Jason Fleury), a “boat-and-website” outfitter (Chuck Borg), and a flyshop outfitter (Chris Fleck). The questions included: Why did you get into this business? What have been some of your highlights? Some of your challenges? Why have you stayed in this business or how have you changed your business to continue to grow? What has been one thing you’ve done to build on the relationship with existing customers/clients? What has been one thing you’ve done to bring-in/find new clients/customers? We got great answers from the panel that’ll be useful for planning or updating our own businesses.


  • Art Hoffart, Aurelia Ewan, and Echo O’Dell of the Bissell Agency answered a series of member questions about liability insurance like “What’s covered”, “Should guides list outfitters as Additional Insureds”, and other general insurance topics. One take-away: An outfitter should request he or she be an additional insured on all guide policies in order to be notified of the guide drops coverage – no one wants a guide on the water without insurance. Of course, if you have individual coverage questions. call the Bissell Agency at 406.586.6230


  • We wrapped up with the new “River Emergency Case Studies”, a talk led by Russell Parks and Phil Sgamma, FOAM board members, about how to raise emergency awareness within our unique scenario (often aging clients seeking relaxation in a wilderness setting, often two hours from emergency care with low communication and treatment resources in unconventional settings while traveling down Montana’s rivers) and talking through four case studies:


  1. How a guide took a hook in the eye and managed to safely care for his clients while seeking emergency care – the good news, the hook came out on its own at the hospital and the guide’s eyesight was not impaired.
  2. An older female client who tried to climb out of the boat while the guide was re-rigging her rod – she grabbed some grass, leaned forward to get out, the grass gave way and she fell on the gunnel, injuring her ribs. She eventually received treatment for cracked ribs, and the guide admitted he could have paid more attention after stopping in a non-ideal location even though he instructed the client to stay in the boat.
  3. During a walk-wade trip along a snowy riverbank, a client slipped on snow, lost her balance and fell, injuring her ankle. The situation worked out, in spite of the client failing to tell the guide she’d had double hip replacement surgery, which would have led the guide to choosing different ways to approach the river they fished.
  4. An “active” (frequently moving, foot-shuffling, etc.) client was re-positioned by the guide as they approached a narrow stretch of river, the raft bumped a rock, and the client “launched forward” out of the raft. In spite of “taking responsibility” for the fall, when his adrenaline wore off, the client realized he had broken his ring finger. Attempts to realign the bones didn’t work, so the guide splinted the finger and continued the trip.

At the end of the day, we shared beer and snacks provided by the Bissell Agency while distributing raffle items to many lucky – some, very lucky – FOAM members.

The FOAM board will start planning our 2018 meeting when they meet this fall. If you have ideas about when and where to meet and what events to schedule, let your board member know. You can find your regional board representative at the bottom of our website’s About page.



Legislative Update

During this 2017 legislative session, FOAM members commented on two bills dealing with outfitter reporting, supporting House Bill 290 that mandated keeping valuable “stream and stretch” information, while opposing Senate Bill 264 (sponsored by the Montana Outfitter’s and Guide’s Ass’n, MOGA) that would limit reporting rules to licensing topics only, most likely eliminating stream and stretch data. HB290 was tabled in the House Business & Labor committee, and, despite steep opposition by FOAM, Montana Wildlife Federation, the Sportsmans Alliance and others, SB 264 is slowly proceeding through the law-making process. But, remember, things can always change before the session is over . . .

FOAM members and an assembly of eighteen other fishing notables, lobbyists, and conservation groups supported Robin Cunningham’s Senate confirmation for a fourth and final term on the Board of Outfitters. However, despite the fact that their current and recent association presidents serve on the outfitter board, MOGA representatives and members opposed the confirmation in the Senate Business and Labor Committee, arguing that his paid work with FOAM constituted a conflict of interest. They suggested, without proof, that Cunningham’s paid position directly influenced his board votes on fishing outfitter issues.

Interestingly, several MOGA outfitters, before testifying against his confirmation in the committee hearing, told Cunningham that they respected his long work with the board, but were acting at the direction of MOGA’s leadership.

The committee opposed the confirmation and the full Senate agreed with the committee’s recommendation, polling along party lines, the Republican majority voting “No” and Democrats voting “Yes.” After the vote, several press reports covered the situation, including a quote from a representative of the Governor decrying the loss of a long-time fishing outfitter and public resources advocate.

And, one Montana blog post quoted Mac Minard, MOGA’s Executive Director, saying, “Cunningham is answering to FOAM’s seven-member board that sets policy and direction, and he’s going to have to act on that direction or lose his job. How do you know how many of his decisions are pushed by the FOAM board?”

In response, Russell Parks, FOAM President, replied, “Cunningham would never have been fired due to a Board of Outfitters vote. There’s never been or would ever be a decision that Robin made on the Board of Outfitters that would ever lead to us to consider firing him. That is an asinine reason that they’re giving.”

Another bill, House Bill 575, required Fishing Access Sites and Wildlife Management Area users to display on vehicles a “fish and wildlife recreation pass” when using an FAS or WMA. The pass would cost $15 or $7.50 if accompanied by a fishing license, with proceeds paying for AIS prevention, FAS improvements, weed control, boating safety and enforcement, reimbursing counties for FAS and WMA’s, and paying license vendors a small fee for processing the pass. Unfortunately, the bill did not cover nor mention the fee fishing outfitters and guides pay for commercial access to FAS. FOAM representatives reasoned that while AIS prevention and FAS maintenance were good causes, adding an additional fee to the established commercial use fee seemed a bit much, even at the reduced rate of $7.50. NOTE: HB575 was tabled in the House Fish & Game Committee on Tuesday, March 21.

Other legislation, Senate Bill 363, would provide AIS funding from a variety of sources, including:

  1. $50 annual fee for nonresident AIS decal by nonresident owners of a sailboat, motorboat, or personal watercraft (jet ski),
  2. $25 annual fee for resident owners of a sailboat, motorboat, or personal watercraft,
  3. A hydroelectric facility shall pay a quarterly invasive species fee of $577.75 per megawatt of the facility’s nameplate capacity authorized by the federal energy regulatory commission,
  4. The owner of land that is classified as agricultural land 27 pursuant to 15-7-202 and valued as irrigated farmland pursuant to 15-7-201 shall pay an annual invasive species fee of $25

Resident anglers are exempt because fishing licenses already include a small fee earmarked for AIS prevention and control. If passed, the bill would be in effect after May 15, 2017 and terminate on June 30, 2027. The Senate Natural

Resources Committee worked late on Friday to add tempering amendments to the bill in order to pass it out of committee the same day so the bill can advance before a Friday, March 31 deadline. Next, SB363 was reviewed by the Senate Finance and Claims committee and was passed on a 17-1 vote. It will next be voted on by the entire Senate.

FOAM will monitor HB290 and SB363 until they’re killed, or signed by the Governor. Stay tuned.