Changes in place for 2024 float season
GREAT FALLS – The deadline for Smith River float applications is Wednesday, Feb. 14. The permit drawing will be held on Feb. 22. Permits are required to float the 59-mile section of river between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge and are issued each year through a lottery.
To apply for a Smith River float permit online, go to the FWP Online Licensing System. A $15 nonrefundable permit application fee is required. Successful Smith River applicants will be notified via email shortly after the lottery drawing is conducted.
This year is the first time applicants can buy a bonus point for the Smith River Permit. A bonus point is essentially an extra chance you can purchase for the permit drawing. These points accumulate year after year if you are unsuccessful in the drawing. Residents can purchase a bonus point for $5; nonresidents can purchase a bonus point for $50. The bonus point is applied to your application the year it is purchased. You can apply for a permit through FWP’s Online Licensing System..
Another change this year, FWP staff will remove pit toilets at the boat camps along the Smith River this spring. All float parties will be required to pack out their human waste from the Smith River corridor. This requirement is similar to many other river systems in the West and necessary to keep the corridor pristine for visitors now and for decades to come. The rules implementing this pack-out system were passed by the Montana Parks Board in early 2022.
Floaters will need to pack portable toilet systems. To see a list of FWP-approved, portable, hard-sided toilets that will be allowed, click here. Alternative waste disposal systems, including bag systems, such as Clean Waste and RESTOP2, will not be allowed.
Floaters can clean and sanitize their portable toilet system with a SCAT (Sanitizing Containers with Alternative Technology) machine, which has been installed at the Eden Bridge take-out. To watch a video of how the SCAT machine works with FWP-approved toilets, click here.
Finally, starting in 2024, the number of permits available for nonresidents may not exceed 10 percent of the available permits. This new law was passed as part of House Bill 846 in the 2023 Legislative Session.
In addition to the permit lottery, the public may purchase as many $5 Super Permit chances as they wish. FWP issues one Super Permit each year through a separate lottery. The recipient of the Super Permit will be allowed to launch on any date of their choosing for that float season.
The opportunity to purchase chances for the Smith River Super Permit will be available through March 22. The Super Permit drawing will take place on March 26. Super Permit chances may be purchased online through FWP’s Online Licensing System.
For more information about Smith River State Park visit: http://stateparks.mt.gov/smith-river/