The Fishing and Marine Industry Daily News Feed

A Major Win on the Smith River

Montana’s Smith River is one big step closer to protection from the development of a large-scale industrial copper mine.

This week, Trout Unlimited won our court challenge against Canadian-owned Sandfire Resources’ Black Butte Copper Mine. On every count, the court sided TU and our fellow plaintiffs.

The Smith River is renowned for its spectacular scenery, towering limestone canyons, and world-class trout fishery. The only permitted recreational river in Montana, it features an unparalleled 59-mile stretch with only one public put-in and one take-out for boaters. The river and its tributaries provide crucial habitat and spawning grounds for regional trout fisheries and water for downstream agricultural lands.

Trout Unlimited’s Montana chapter and national organization joined the Montana Environmental Information Center, EarthWorks, and American Rivers in arguing in district court that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) did not properly or sufficiently evaluate the risks this mine would pose to water quality, water quantity and the Smith River fishery under the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and Montana Metal Mine Reclamation Act.

The proposed mine would produce roughly 12.9 million tons of acid-generating waste, which would threaten the water quality and trout populations in one of Montana’s most treasured rivers.

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