After a brief meeting of the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, a large portion of the Yellowstone River has been reopened to public use for fishing, floating and recreating, with certain restrictions.

Communications Director Ron Aasheim said the decision was announced at a meeting in Helena on Thursday afternoon.

"The decision has been made due to improved environmental conditions to reopen about 100 miles of a stretch of the Yellowstone River below basically where the Shields River joins the Yellowstone," Aasheim said. " The middle 51 miles, the chunk of what they call the Carbella, which is about half-way to Emigrant and the park to that bridge near the Shields has remained closed."

Aasheim clarified the closure.

"So, the middle section is closed except for tributaries, and then the upper section, about 26 miles, all recreational use except angling has been reopened," he continued. "So, from the top 26 miles you can do just about anything BUT fish, there are still restrictions in the middle, and in the lower section all restrictions have been lifted, and all tributaries, except those on the Shields River have been reopened."

Aasheim said local businesses, guide services and outfitters are relieved and grateful for the decision, especially on the eve of the Labor Day weekend.

183 miles of the river was closed on August 12 after thousands of mountain whitefish were attacked and killed by a parasite. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission made the decision to close the River to all human activity to keep the infection from spreading.

Thursday's decision reopens a large portion of the river to public use.