Growth and Sprawl

As western Montana’s cities continue to expand, stream corridors and riparian areas are especially vulnerable to growth and sprawl.

Their natural beauty, relatively flat terrain, and proximity to roads make river corridors highly desirable for development. But these areas are also some of the most ecologically important habitats and biodiversity hot spots in the region. Although riparian areas make up only about 5% of Montana’s landscape, they support 85% of its plant and animal species. These areas are vital for wildlife—providing movement corridors, shelter for nesting birds, fish spawning sites, and dry-season refuges.

Developments that encroach on riparian areas often harden the landscape, increasing runoff that worsens erosion and introduces contaminants. They can also lead to higher risk of flooding if streams lose access to floodplains that disperse water and energy. And building in this rich habitat can intensify wildlife-human conflict.

Planning for growth and development with river-smart principles at the forefront for local decision-makers helps protect these vulnerable and irreplaceable areas while also meeting human needs.

Protect rivers and riparian corridors

Clark Fork Coalition members are informed champions for the watershed. Your contributions help guide river-smart growth.