The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is now accepting public comments on a proposed revision to the annual rule regarding floating on the Smith River. The revisions were tentatively adopted by the Commission at its December meeting in Helena.
Changes to the annual rule are being considered because use of the river by floaters has reached levels where a review of management is suggested in the current management plan.
Included in the proposed revisions on which the Commission is seeking public comment are:
1) Reduce private launches by one launch per day during the peak period (June 10-July 10).
a) Outfitter use would remain "as is" (one launch per day, plus an additional two per week, for a total of nine outfitter launches per week). Public use would be decreased by seven launches per week during the peak period.
b) Implement a four-night camping stay limit for both private and outfitted groups during the peak use period.
c) Unused outfitter launches would no longer be available to private floaters during the peak period.
2) Landowners on the Smith River currently have the option of floating without restrictions or fees as long as it is with immediate family members and they don't float overnight. They are still required to register. A landowner representative on the Smith River Ad Hoc Committee proposed the following rule revision:
* Smith River landowners would be allowed to float with non-immediate family members with the following restrictions:
1) day floats only;
2) no commercial use;
3) landowners would still be required to register and display boat tags;
4) such floats would be limited to one per day among all landowners (over the length of the entire river); allocated on first-come, first-served basis;
5) limited to six people per trip;
6) trips may only be of one-day duration (i.e., consecutive day floats would not be allowed;
7) non-family members would pay a $7.50 floater fee.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed rule revisions through January 21, 1998. Comments should be sent to FWP's Region 4 Headquarters, P.O. Box 6610, Great Falls, MT 59406.
Those interested in floating the Smith in 1998 can pick up applications after January 1, 1998, at any FWP office. Floating applications will be due at the Great Falls FWP office no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, February 17.