Conservation biology conference comes to Missoula

June 20, 2014

By Bryce Gray, CFC intern

In mid-July, over 900 distinguished conservation scientists, students and environmental journalists converged on Missoula for the North America Congress of Conservation Biology, hosted this year by the University of Montana.

I was fortunate to attend one full day of the conference, and listened to a variety of talks including the impact of beetle kill on wildfire severity, the importance of riparian areas as climate corridors, accelerating rates of hybridization among Flathead River trout due to climate change, the shifting climate-biome in the Yukon, and the plight of giant, cold-adapted hellbender salamanders, to name only a few.

Although much of the discussions touched on seemingly disparate topics, one common denominator shared by many of the issues discussed is that these contemporary ecological challenges bear a direct effect on river systems and/or matters of water quality.

While the findings shared in many presentations were cause for concern, I considered myself lucky (and proud) to be part of an organization that works at the intersection of many of the complex issues addressed at the conference. Sitting in on the conference also underscored that, in many cases, research only serves to recognize that a problem exists and needs a helping hand to have an impact that bridges the gap from academia to “the real world”. Often times, much of the onus falls on non-profit entities like the Clark Fork Coalition and their members to help shape public opinion and policy accordingly.

Articles written by journalists covering the conference are already surfacing on the websites of National Geographic, Science and other notable publications. Keep an eye out for others that are on the way!

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