Montana’s Smith River is a remarkable place.  Located in west-central Montana, the Smith River drainage is a location of great recreational, ecological and cultural value.  70% of the land in the Smith River drainage is privately owned.  The U.S. Forest Service and State of Montana own the balance.  Public access to the river is limited. It is the only river in Montana that has a lottery and requires a recreational permit to float the corridor.

The Smith River is under threat.  In 2014, a foreign owned mining company, Sandfire Resources, Inc. applied for a copper mine exploration permit on a major headwater tributary to the Smith River, Sheep Creek.  Sandfire proposes to mine in a sulphide ore body, which makes this mine a high risk for producing acid mine drainage.  Acid mine drainage is environmentally devastating and requires permanent water treatment.

Submit official comments advocating for the Smith River to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality by emailing Follow this link for talking points and guidance for making your comment more impactful. 



All Smith rivers are worthy of protection

Here in Montana, we want to preserve our precious Smith River, but it's not the only Smith threatened by mining. Over in the Kalmiopsis region of southwestern Oregon, the headwaters of the Smith River that flows through northern California are threatened by proposed nickel strip mines. The mining companies are seeking permits from the U.S. Forest Service, which just closed public comment on an environmental assessment on May 27. (more…)

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