Save Vital Trout Habitat from Proposed Copper Mine

Rainbow Trout

Target: Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana

Goal: Save a coveted river that is home to a prosperous trout population from the invasive and toxic effects of copper mining.

Freshwater and aquatic life are in danger from a proposal to operate a copper mine at the headwaters of a pristine and cherished river. The river is known as a crucial breeding ground for a variety of freshwater trout, and the mining company behind this invasive project is in the exploratory phase. We must stop this mine before the company has approval to operate.

Located in central Montana, the Smith River is the only river in the state that requires outdoor enthusiasts to acquire a permit to raft and enjoy the water source. The permit process is put in place so that the river and its aquatic life are not stressed from the activities of outdoor enthusiasts. The waterway is a high-value fishery that is home to thriving populations of brown, rainbow, westslope cutthroat, and brook trout. Due to revenue from the fisheries and recreational permits, the Smith River actually yields $10 million per year, making the health of this river and its tributaries of vital importance to the local economy.

However, the proposed Black Butte Copper Mine threatens this thriving natural area. The surface mine will operate on the banks of Sheep Creek, a tributary of the Smith River. Tintina, the company behind the mine, will dig below the water table into sulfide minerals. Since the mine will operate below the water table, Tintina will need to pump water out of the mine often to keep it from flooding. Sulfide minerals, when exposed to air and water, create a toxin known as sulfuric acid. The acid could easily make its way into the river, changing the acidity of the freshwater and eventually killing aquatic life.

By signing this petition, you are demanding that the Governor of Montana protect the Smith River and its tributaries by preventing an invasive copper mine from operating so close to such a coveted waterway.


Dear Governor Bullock,

The Smith River and its tributaries are cherished by outdoor enthusiasts and crucial for trout habitat. Due to the revenue from recreational permits and flourishing fisheries, this coveted waterway actually earns nearly $10 million in annual revenue. The Smith River water system is beneficial to the area and should be protected.

The Black Butte Copper Mine is a concerning future for the Smith River. This mine, proposed for the shore of a Smith River tributary known as Sheep Creek, will dig below the water table and into sulfide minerals. The mine is at a risk for flooding and sulfide minerals, when exposed to air and water, create a toxic substance known as sulfuric acid. This acid will deteriorate the habitat of the various trout species that thrive in these waters.

I urge you to please take action to save the Smith River and its tributaries. Montana has pristine natural areas that should be safeguarded from dangerous and invasive mining practices. Please protect the aquatic life and integrity of the Smith River by denying Tintina the opportunity to operate a copper mine near the vital waterway.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: USFWS – Pacific Region

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