Things are changing in a big way in the Upper Clark Fork River basin in western Montana.
For more than 100 years this hard-working river system has been contaminated by heavy metals and mine waste, degraded from excessive road-building and logging, and de-watered due to intensive agricultural use and inefficient irrigation.
No surprise the trout populations in this once-great fishery have languished. Some tributaries were so contaminated they could not even support insect life.
But the Clark Fork is coming back.
It just needs is a little help.
That’s where the Clark Fork Coalition’s Eight Gr8 Trout Streams project – and you – come in. The Upper Clark Fork system is currently undergoing a massive cleanup that is removing more than a century of contamination from the floodplain and rebuilding it from the ground up. Work began in 2012 and the results are already remarkable: the bugs are back; new riparian plants are growing; and the fish have definitely gotten the memo.
As welcome as this cleanup is, this “sleeping giant of a fishery” will not recover unless we also re-water, rehabilitate, and reconnect key native trout strongholds. We have identified high-priority tributaries where conservation populations of westslope cutthroat and bull trout could – with the right remedies – aid in repopulating the Clark Fork fishery.
Thanks to Ruby Springs Lodge and Orvis, when you contribute to this effort, your gift will have triple the impact: Every dollar you give will be matched 2 to 1 to help restore these eight great streams and the Clark Fork fishery.
What will your contribution do?
Reconnect chronically dry creeks by restoring flow, thereby opening spawning pathways, lowering water temperatures, and improving water quality.
Restore fish passage where barriers such as culverts, irrigation diversions, or lack of flow now prevent spawning, migration, and access to refuge
Improve riparian habitat that is currently compromised by waste from abandoned mines, sediment, poor grazing practices, lack of vegetative cover, and erosion from degraded stream channels
With your help, we can literally rebuild the Upper Clark Fork fishery, which has all the natural ingredients to a premier fishery – in a state that already has some pretty good boasting rights.
We know from natural resource agency data (as well as our own on-the-river “research days”) that the Clark Fork has awesome potential. Your donation today will make that potential a reality. But you’ll also help build a remarkable legacy. What kind of long-term outcomes are we talking about?
- Reconnecting five tributaries to the Clark Fork mainstem.
- Connecting four conservation populations of westslope cutthroat trout and one bull trout population back to the Clark Fork River.
- Improving flow conditions on seven tributaries.
- Improving in-stream flows in the Clark Fork mainstem to help address metals, nutrients, and temperature problems
- Restoring riparian and aquatic habitats along 77 miles of tributaries, providing migration corridors from forest uplands to the restored floodplain and mainstem river
Is all of this really possible? We know it is. This is no ordinary grip n’ grin photo: That’s a healthy native cutthroat trout, caught in the very stream that 10 years ago was too toxic to support insects. Epic comeback? Hell yeah.
Be a part of one of the greatest river restoration stories in the world. Donate to the Eight Gr8 Trout Streams Campaign today.
Campaign updates (newest first):
The Eight Gr8 Trout Streams Campaign is a project of the Clark Fork Coalition in partnership with the Watershed Restoration Coalition, the State of Montana, Trout Unlimited, and the generous cooperation of local landowners.