Montana State Parks and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe are moving closer to the transfer the FWP’s lease of Hell Creek State Park from the state to the Fort Peck Reservation. A memorandum of understanding was signed in early October which officially began the process. The tribe is expected to open its reservation system for the 2022 season before year’s end. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the site at Fort Peck Lake.
The current plan is to have FWP’s Parks and Recreation Board review and vote on the lease assignment at its Dec. 9 meeting and send the recommendation to the Corps, who must give final approval.
FWP Director Hank Worsech said, “It’s been a pleasure working with Chairman (Gerald) Gray on the transition process. He has demonstrated his strong leadership, his tenacity in strengthening his tribe, and his commitment to conserving the resources at Hell Creek and preserving the access and recreational opportunities the public enjoys.”
The tribe is currently drafting its management plan for Hell Creek. After Corps approval, the tribe will be able to begin taking camping and day use reservations for the 2022 season.
“The tribe is looking forward to providing a smooth transition for the reservation system and we are excited for the upcoming season with Hell Creek users,” said Chairman Gray.
Hell Creek will be providing the same basic services after the transition. The recreation area accommodates most water sports and offers excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass. The lake is also a popular ice fishing destination. The 71-site campground is often full in peak season.
Hell Creek also serves as a launch point for boat camping in the Missouri Breaks. Other services include a comfort station, potable water, playground, trails, fish cleaning station, RV dump station, and a group use shelter for special events.
If all goes as planned, FWP could walk away from Hell Creek by the end of next summer.
The tribe is also working with Hell Creek Marina concessionaire Clint Thomas to repair a fuel tank. The marina is operated by the Thomases under a lease agreement with the state that. That lease agreement has been contentious at times.