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Floaters on Smith River

State Parks > Smith River 2021 Smith River Management Plan

Smith River Management Plan Environmental Assessment 

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking input on an Environmental Assessment (EA) that considers potential updates to the 2009 Smith River State Park and River Corridor Recreation Management Plan. The plan was last updated in 2009. While much of the direction provided in the 2009 plan remains relevant today, there are a set of management issues for which conditions have changed and warrant attention.  The EA considers alternatives for addressing these issues and identifies a preferred alternative for each.  


Virtual Public Meetings 

FWP will hold two virtual (online) sessions* to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about the proposed management actions and to ask questions. FWP will not be recording comments at these sessions (see below for opportunities to submit comments).  

Dec. 1 Meeting Recording:
Dec. 7 Meeting Recording:

Public Comment Opportunity

The comment period for the Draft Smith River Management Plan Environmental Assessment ended on December 15, 2021.

FWP thanks all individuals and entities that provided feedback during this important planning process. Agency staff value the public's perspective and are now working on developing a summary of comments which will be available in January.

About the Planning Process

FWP appointed a Smith River Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) to provide important feedback on the management issues. The committee consists of former members of the Smith River Advisory Council, a Parks and Recreation Board representative, and additional members that 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 will also consult with key tribal representatives given the important cultural and heritage resources associated with the Smith River. 


Key Management Issues

The EA considers alternatives for addressing the following management issues: 

  • Managing use at Camp Baker and deciding whether to discontinue camping there on a permanent basis 

  • Instituting a system for human waste pack-out consistent with legislative direction 

  • Examining  ways to increase floater opportunities for those who have not floated recently or ever

  • Implementing resource protection measures to preserve and mitigate further deterioration of boat camps and riverbank landings 


Timeline, updated

Currently, the remainder of the planning timeline is as follows: 

  • Nov.  9 through Dec. 15 – Public comment period for EA 

  • Dec. 1 and 7 – Virtual Public Meetings 

  • January 2022 – PAC meeting to consider public comments and advise final decision 

  • February 2022 – Department to issue Final Decision for EA and Plan 

Rulemaking may be necessary to implement some of the proposed management changes. FWP  anticipates rulemaking would occur later in 2022 and implementation of the new  plan would occur beginning with the 2023 float season. 



For more information, contact:

Dave Hagengruber
Region 4 Information and Education Program Manager