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Floaters on Smith River

State Parks > Smith River 2022 Smith River Management Plan

Public Comment Opportunity: Proposed Biennial Rules

Comments on the following proposed item will be accepted until Friday, March 25, 2022

Comments may be submitted online using the form below, or mailed to: 

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
ATTN: Charlie Sperry 
P.O. Box 200701
1420 East 6th Ave. 
Helena, MT 59620

Smith River Management Plan Update

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has issued a final Decision Notice that addresses updates to the 2009 Smith River State Park and River Corridor Recreation Management Plan. While much of the direction provided in the plan remains relevant today, there is a set of management issues for which conditions have changed and warrant attention.

The process of updating the 2009 Smith River Management Plan began earlier this summer with a focus on four primary management issues:

  1. Management of Camp Baker

  2. Human waste management

  3. Natural and cultural resource impacts

  4. Floater opportunities 

About the Planning Process

These core issues were addressed in an Environmental Assessment (EA) issued in November 2021. In response, FWP received 104 comments from the public during its 30-day public comment period.


Virtual Public Meetings 

To complement public engagement efforts, FWP held two virtual (online) sessions to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the proposed management actions and to ask questions. FWP did not record comments at these sessions.

Dec. 1 Meeting 
Dec. 7 Meeting 

Public Participation and Next Steps (as of Feb. 3, 2022)

FWP thanks all individuals and entities that provided feedback during this important planning process. Agency staff members value the public's perspective.

Rulemaking is needed to implement some of the management actions identified in the Decision Notice. FWP will propose the necessary rule changes to the Parks and Recreation Board at its March 3, 2022 meeting. Based on an extensive review of the public comments and input from the PAC, the proposed rule changes include: (a) Permanently establishing Camp Baker as day-use-only from December 1 through August 31, continuing the management actions initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic; and, (b) Requiring floaters to pack-out human waste beginning with the 2023 float season using a department approved toilet system.

In addition, FWP will develop a set of management tools that could be utilized to address negative impacts on natural and cultural resources in the river corridor and at boat camps. During the 2022 float season, staff will monitor and evaluate conditions to assess where changes may be needed. On the topic of floater opportunities, FWP will explore the development of methods that could be used to increase opportunities for those who have not recently (or ever) floated the Smith River.

The Smith River Planning Advisory Committee (PAC)

To help with planning, FWP appointed a Smith River Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) to provide important feedback on the management issues. The committee consisted of former members of the Smith River Advisory Council, a Parks and Recreation Board representative, and additional members that were identified to reflect the diversity of interests in the Smith River and surrounding area. Members include: 

Sarah Calhoun: Business owner and community leader, White Sulphur Springs
Colin Cooney: Trout Unlimited, Helena
Triel Culver*: Interested citizen, Billings
Carol Hatfield: USFS representative, White Sulphur Springs
Jane Kollmeyer*: Interested citizen, Helena
Joe Lamson*: Interested citizen, Helena
Brian McGeehan: Smith River outfitter, Bozeman
Michael Meloy*: Smith River landowner, Helena
Ned Morgens*: Smith River landowner, New York City
Mary Moe*: FWP Parks and Recreation Board member, Great Falls
Jennifer Stepleton: Montana Business Assistance Connection rural economic development specialist and former BLM river ranger, Helena

*Former Advisory Council Member

FWP also consulted with key tribal representatives given the important cultural and heritage resources associated with the Smith River. 


For more information, contact:

Dave Hagengruber
Region 4 Information and Education Program Manager