WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks is currently taking public comment on regulation revision for the Smith River. As human impact upon the river and its banks has increased, the agency is asking the public on how they can better preserve and manage the river for the future.
After conducting an environmental assessment FWP will potentially update the 12-year-old Smith River Management Plan.
Primary issues that this revision plans to address include Camp Baker management, human waste management, floater opportunities, and natural and cultural resource impacts. A planning advisory committee helped with the environmental assessment and is working closely with the department to create the best possible regulation changes.
Brian McGeehan, a member of the advisory committee, and owner of Montana Angler Fly Fishing, says there are unique considerations with the Smith when compared to other waterways,
“Because it takes several days to float through the canyon, you need to camp and float your way down the river. And that, as it became more popular, yeah, the thought was to maintain the high quality and put a limit on how many people can float through the canyon at one time.”
McGeehan says it is paramount to protect and preserve the Smith, believing the proposed regulations will help ensure the experience is available for generations to come,
“Without those kind of regulations you get a different sort of experience. So, we view them as a positive and I think you know folks that go down the river with their friends and family and their own equipment enjoy that that experience they have has been preserved, the quality of that recreation has been preserved “
If you would like to give your opinions on potential changes, you can visit Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ website under the Smith River Management Plan section. The public is also encouraged to attend virtual meetings on December 1 and 7 to hear the potential management changes and ask any questions.
No matter what FWP decides it will have an impact one way or another — not only on the river — but on those who decide to utilize this natural resource.