The American Fisheries Society, the oldest professional society in North America dealing with the natural resources, was organized in 1870. The Montana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society was chartered in 1967. Among its objectives are conservation, development and wise utilization of the fisheries, promotion of the educational, scientific and technological development and advancement of all branches of fisheries science and practice, and exchange and dissemination of knowledge about fish, fisheries and related subject.
Chapters were not established as subunits of AFS until 1962. The Montana Chapter was formed in 1967 after George Holton and Dr. C. J. D. Brown polled fish biologists in Montana and found that they overwhelmingly favored forming a chapter. Montana chaptership was officially granted by AFS at their annual meeting held in Toronto, Canada on September 14, 1967.
The first annual meeting of the Montana Chapter AFS (MTAFS) was held at the Montana Club in Helena in 1967. Frank Dunkel, Director of Montana Fish and Game, gave the welcoming address and Robert Hutton, the Executive Director of AFS, provided the keynote address. George Holton was installed as President.
Since our inception, membership has grown from about 25 to 150 members and our annual operating budget has gone from less than $60 to over $5,000 annually. Presidents elected and serving the Chapter have come from a diverse background.
The role of the MTAFS is that of the AFS as set forth in Article I of AFS's constitution and recognized in Section 1 of our Bylaws. This role was eloquently summarized by Ron Marcoux in 1973. he said the Chapter should be the focal point for:
- exchanging current information and techniques;
- informing members of activities that threaten fishery resources;
- supporting local, state and federal legislation that is in the interest of fishery resources; and
- encouraging members to participate in AFS at all levels.
Throughout its history the MTAFS has served as an organization where work for the understanding, conservation and wise use of fish resources outside their employment affiliations. The Chapter has been an advocate for:
- the unbiased collection of fish resource information;
- the conservation and restoration of native fishes;
- the importance of high quality aquatic habitats; and
- wise management of land, water and fish resources in the state of Montana.
Policy decisions which the Chapter has actively worked on include:
- The Stream Preservation Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,
- Subdivision laws,
- Strip Mining and Reclamation Act,
- Yellowstone River Flow Reservation,
- Water Use Act,
- Northwest Power Planning Act,
- Montana Wilderness Bill,
- 1872 Mining Law,
- Water Quality legislation, and
- Private Fish Pond regulations.
Over the last eight years, MTAFS has submitted approximately 64 correspondences and position letters to various agencies and groups.