The Flathead subbasin is one of the most pristine river systems in the Lower 48, boasting Flathead Lake–the largest freshwater lake in the West–as well as the wild and wonderful South, North and Middle Forks of the Flathead River. It also sustains large agricultural operations and some of the fastest growing communities in Montana. Unfortunately, invasive species are threatening the food web in its lakes and rivers.
The Flathead River drainage is one of the West’s great jewels–wilderness and Wild & Scenic River designations ensure that much of this pristine basin remains protected. Many of its headwaters originate in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park, while the lower reaches flow through the reservation of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. Today, this remarkable subbasin faces challenges from subdivision development and invasive aquatic species. Results: The Coalition partners with a host of groups combating invasive species that threaten the Flathead’s waterways, and supports proposals that put in place long-term protections for the North Fork watershed.
Policies that Protect: For the past decade, the Coalition has worked collaboratively on local or statewide growth plans and policies that encourage river- and lake-friendly development patterns in the Flathead. We also track and comment on land-use projects that would harm water quality in the basin, and support proposals that keep the Flathead clean and pristine. For instance, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act recently protected 430,000 acres of the Flathead subbasin from energy development in both the U.S. and Canada.
Aquatic Invasive Species: From lake trout that change the food web in Flathead Lake to zebra mussels that ruin shorelines and water-related infrastructure, aquatic invaders are bad news for waterways and the economy. The Flathead is on the front-line for preventing and managing the spread of aquatic invasive species. The Coalition works with partners to help: monitor for early detection, acquire funding to treat outbreaks, educate citizens on preventing the spread of invasives, and encourage people to ‘Inspect, Clean, Dry’ all water gear.
Citizens for a Better Flathead; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; Flathead Basin Commission; Flathead Conservation District; Flathead County; Flathead Lake Biological Station; Flathead Lakers; Flathead National Forest; Glacier National Park; Lake County; Missoula County; Montana Department of Agriculture; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Montana Smart Growth Coalition; Sanders County; U.S. Geological Survey; Whitefish Lake Institute.