When rafters and anglers talk about great floating trips in Montana, the Smith River, right in the middle of the state, always comes up. Floating the river is already limited by a reservation program from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. And when somebody finds out that their application is accepted, the smiles are all around.

Well, you add that floating desire with the current drought conditions, let alone a normal water flow year, and the Smith River is almost too popular. The low water caused floating to stop earlier this year and now a set of new rules is being developed to keep the river in good condition. Officials have been noting the increased size of the float groups each year.

So, the Smith River Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) helped with the draft assessment and will will advise FWP after the comment period ends. The 2009 Smith River management plan will be updated by the new work. The Smith River State Park and River Corridor Recreation Management Plan is now taking public comment. FWP has two online public meetings December 1 and December 7, too. Work on finalizing the plan is not expected until early next year. Any new rules that come of the plan would not be effective until 2023.

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In a news release, FWP listed four issues on Smith River management:

  • Management of Camp Baker
  • Human waste management
  • Natural and cultural resource impacts
  • Floater opportunities.
  • The Environmental Assessment and the link to submit comments are online at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. Comments will be accepted until December 15th. Those meetings will have opportunities for the public to ask questions.

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