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Yellowstone considers dumping felt wading boots for fishermen

Outdoors

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White, felt sole on the left. Dark, rubber sole on the right. | Kris Millgate, www.tightlinemedia.com

Fishing season opens in Yellowstone National Park May 27 and it may be the last year the park’s waters are open to felt-soled wading boots.

Yellowstone is considering a felt ban.

“We wouldn’t want to ban a boot style if there wasn’t an alternative, but now there are alternatives,” says Todd Koel, Yellowstone National Park native fish conservation program leader. “That’s why, as a part of bolstering our overall aquatic invasive species prevention in Yellowstone, the park will probably be going to a ban on felt soles in 2018.”

The alternative is rubber. In theory, rubber-soled wading boots transfer less invasive from one watershed to the next because they don’t grip as well as felt. But the reality is, if a bug sticks to soles, it can also hitch a ride on boots and waders.

The Madison River in Yellowstone National Park near the West entrance. | Kris Millgate, www.tightlinemedia.com

“Take responsibility and clean your gear,” says Josh Prestin, Redington brand manager. “If you care for your stuff in an appropriate way, you’re not going to have a negative impact on the places you fish.”

Felt grips while rubber slips so to keep fisherman from falling, the industry added cleats to rubber soles. “It took me a while to warm up to it, but now I like rubber better than felt,” says Jimmy Gabettas, Jimmy’s All Seasons Angler owner. “Especially Vibram rubber soles. When you step out of water onto mud or grass, it’s better than felt and snow doesn’t build up on rubber like felt.”

Idaho tried for a felt ban in 2011, but it didn’t fly. Six other states ban felt: Alaska, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Rhode Island and South Dakota. Vermont had a ban, but reversed it in summer 2016.

If Yellowstone’s felt ban is enacted, it starts May 2018.

Outdoor journalist Kris Millgate is based in Idaho Falls, Idaho. See more of her work at www.tightlinemedia.com.

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