The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will remove the idle-speed-only and dusk-to-dawn restrictions for boaters on the Missouri and Heart rivers in the Bismarck-Mandan area, effective at 6 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.
With the river level predicted to drop below the 14-foot stage by about noon Central Time on Wednesday, department officials felt it was the right time to lift restrictions. “We are waiting until Thursday morning to lift restrictions so we have time to assess boat ramp status,” said Director Terry Steinwand. “We know how important outdoor recreation is to North Dakotans, and this provides an opportunity for water enthusiasts to enjoy the river before the boating season is completely over.”
Watercraft operators are encouraged to use common courtesy while navigating the river, as some potential hazards exist. “Safety must be on the minds of everyone because the current is still rather high and water temperatures continue to drop,” Steinwand said.
The water level is still high enough, Steinwand emphasizes, where isolated properties are still affected by flood conditions. “In this type of situation we ask boaters to be courteous and move farther out into the channel,” he said.
In addition, the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services said Coast Guard restrictions placed on the river have also been rescinded.
The nearest public boat ramps that are currently open in the Bismarck-Mandan area are Steckel (Wilton), Hazelton and Ft. Rice.
Fisheries crews are currently working on the MacLean ramp, which should be opened by the weekend. In addition, Kimball and Graner ramps are being assessed and it’s anticipated they may be usable within the next week.
Though water levels are still too high on Grant Marsh and Little Heart ramps, it is possible they could become operational yet this year.
Kniefel Landing, Hoge Island and Fox Island ramps will likely remain closed this year.
“Erosion and shoreline damage was experienced at all ramps, and we urge the public to use extreme caution near ramps and all bordering shoreline as conditions have changed dramatically this summer,” Steinwand said.