On September 5, 2015 Matthew and Laura Churchman lost their newborn son William. At 32 weeks, they learned that, due to major abnormalities, his was not a life compatible outside the womb. His brief moment had a profound impact on their family and friends. Matthew manages Blackfoot River Outfitters Fly Shop in Missoula. Together with the owners, John Herzer and Terri Raugland, they reignited The Blackfoot River Outfitters Memorial Float, founded originally to honor the memory of John’s father, Moe Herzer and longtime fishing client and friend Steve Bryant.

This year funds raised will benefit Montana Trout Unlimited’s efforts to protect the Smith River from a proposed copper mine on its most vital tributary. Coincidentally it was after they had decided to raise funds to protect the Smith that Laura drew her first Smith River permit. In June with their daughter Ella, Matthew’s father Bill, and two other families, the Churchmans got to experience the treasure of the Smith River, which lies in its preservation not extraction.

The Memorial Float will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Guiding services for full-day fly-fishing and scenic floats are donated so that all proceeds can benefit MTU’s efforts. Boats are filling up, so please reserve your spot soon.

Montana’s rivers are special places, giving us recreation, education, and clean drinking water, but they can also be a place of reflection, healing, and a respite for our worried minds and troubled hearts. To compromise the health of a river like the Smith, to harm it irreparably, would be a loss that we would grieve like any other.

Please join us to honor lost loved ones and to protect the life-giving waters of our rivers and streams.  There are also many ways to give, sponsor or get involved in the Memorial Float. To find out more, please visit www.memorialfloat.com.