You stopped the mine on our beloved Smith River. On April 11, Montana Trout Unlimited received word on our court challenge that we won both the MEPA and MMRA claims we filed against the Black Butte Mine and DEQ. Your donations, letters, phone calls, and time helped us achieve this victory. This marks a rare moment in Montana history that a mine has been stopped because it poses serious environmental risks. Thank you!
As you know, MTU joined MEIC, EarthWorks and American Rivers to challenge, in district court, that MT Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did not properly or sufficiently evaluate the risks this mine poses to water quality, quantity and the Smith fishery under the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and MT Metal Mine Reclamation Act. The first and only hearing was held on July 16th, 2021, and the decision came in our favor of all of our claims about the risks the mine poses.
If we’ve learned anything in this fight, it is that there are always more rounds, so while we are celebrating this win, we remain poised for our next action. We are also still committed to the mineral withdrawal on public lands that will provide an additional layer of protection for the Smith River.
We could NOT have accomplished historic protection without you.
Thanks for all you do for trout in Montana and everywhere!
Montana Trout Unlimited
Wrappin’ & Rappin’ is Montana TU’s new video podcast series, focusing on signature flies from some of the state’s premiere waters, as well as discussions about conservation in the places our guests know best. Each week we tie a fly and chat! In this episode, we focus on the Smith River and the Gonzo streamer, popularized by Joe Sowerby of MT Fly Fishing Connection. Our guests our MTFFC guides Will Plumhoff and Jason Brininstool. We discuss this year’s drought and how the river fared, hear some stories of the Smith’s infamous weather, and talk best boat camps, including one that may be haunted! Enjoy!
“In issuing this permit, we believe state regulators are dismissing the concerns of business owners, landowners and most of us who care about the Smith. Folks who would be directly impacted by the damage this mine could cause to Sheep Creek, the Smith River, its Blue-Ribbon trout fishery and the $10 million a year it contributes to Montana’s economy.”
On June 4, 2020 Montana Trout Unlimited, Montana Environmental Information Center, Trout Unlimited, Earthworks, and American Rivers filed a lawsuit in state district court challenging the mine operating permit approved by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), alleging a failure to conduct a thorough environmental analysis and ignoring over 12,000 public comments opposing the mine.
This is the wrong mine in the wrong ore body in the wrong watershed. The DEQ completely failed to look at that cumulative analysis, the potential of mine expansion to occur. It’s going to impact several more tributaries of the Smith River if in fact Sandfire is able to pursue its vision for this 50-year mining district.