HELENA — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is considering potential updates to the 2009 Smith River State Park and River Corridor Recreation Management Plan.
These potential updates are included in a draft environmental assessment (EA), which is available to the public for review and comment. Comments will be accepted through Dec. 15.
The process of updating the 2009 Smith River Management Plan began this summer with a focus on four primary management issues:
- management of Camp Baker
- human waste management
- natural and cultural resource impacts
- floater opportunities
FWP says interest in floating the Smith River has increased significantly over time, with an increase in the number of permit applications, the number of people floating the river and the average size of float groups. Officials note the increased use has put pressure on infrastructure as well as the significant natural, cultural and historic resources that FWP is charged with protecting.
A Smith River Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) assisted with the development of the EA and will convene after the conclusion of the public comment period to advise the department on a final decision in early 2022. Rulemaking may be needed to implement some aspects of the new plan; any changes requiring rulemaking would not apply until the 2023 float season.
Virtual public meetings have been scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec. 7. At the meetings, FWP staff will provide an overview on the potential management changes, answer questions from the public, and outline the process to submit comments on the proposed changes.
To learn more about the planning process, details on the two virtual public meetings and opportunities to get involved, please visit the Smith River Management Plan web page.