Getting on the Ground with Local and Federal Agencies

Bringing the Clark Fork basin back to full health is a complex job. Dozens of local, state, and federal agencies along with conservation groups, landowner associations, government groups, and private landowners are working on projects that add water to streams, rehabilitate rivers and creeks, and keep tabs on watershed health.

Via formal partnership agreements, the Coalition works with federal agencies like the Lolo National Forest to implement on-the-ground monitoring and restoration projects on public land. Our field staff are now helping to conduct innovative watershed assessments and habitat surveys, collecting data that will be used to inform land and water management decisions for decades to come.

Leveraging strengths: People to projects

At the Coalition, we’re fortunate to have strong partnership and working relationships with an array of agencies, enabling us to connect our members and followers to on-the-ground restoration and monitoring projects.

In particular, we’re utilizing volunteer members via our robust Volunteer River Corps to help implement agency-led initiatives, helping to save resources and time for the agency while also enhancing learning for our savvy group of volunteers:

Case study: Snowpack Monitoring with Natural Resources and Conservation Services

smiling snowpack group 2Part of the workload for water supply specialists and scientists at NRCS includes snowpack monitoring at designated snow course and Snotel sites across the West. Agency reps monitor snow density and translate the data into snow water equivalent, helping to forecast streamflows for the coming summer season.

Taking snowpack data from sites across the state of Montana takes time and money — and in an era of shrinking budgets, it can be tough for agencies to stay on top of workloads and assignments – so here’s where the Clark Fork Coalition comes in. Our volunteers are trained in monitoring techniques by NRCS staff and are charged with surveying a snowcourse site near Stevensville in the Bitterroot valley for three months each winter. This formal partnership provides an invaluable learning experience and real time work experience for volunteers while providing a necessary service to the agency. This working partnership and gained knowledge also led Coalition staff to develop a snowpack monitoring curriculum for middle school students, now housed under our Creeks in the Classroom educational program for young learners.

Interested in partnering with the Clark Fork Coalition? Call 406-542-0539, ext. 204, to speak with restoration staff.