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. 



WSJ article highlights repeated mine failures

History is full of mining leaks, spills and downright disasters that have at least impaired and at most wreaked havoc on the streams, wildlife and landscapes around them. Far, far fewer are the stories of "harmless" mines, maybe because they don't exist. The problem is that mines bring hazardous material from underground - where they're safely locked away - to the surface where the companies and taxpayers then have to deal with them. At that point, the wastes are ticking time bombs, waiting to go off when it's least expected. (more…)

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