middle clark fork river - west cabinet mountains

Middle Clark Fork

Clark Fork Kids FloatThe scenic stretch of the Clark Fork from Missoula to the Flathead confluence offers incredible recreational benefits for fishing and boating, including the popular whitewater section in Alberton Gorge. Here, we connect thousands of people to caring for their hometown river through floats, cleanups and educational programs.  We also work with partners to restore cold, clean water and improve habitat on tributaries like Ninemile Creek.


Our Strategy

mcf-mapThis 105-mile stretch of river between the Blackfoot and Flathead includes the urban stretch in Missoula, Class IV whitewater in the Alberton Gorge, and remote, high mountain creeks. Here, the Clark Fork supports Montana’s second-largest city as well as rural communities that rely on clean water. The Coalition focuses on engaging residents in the Middle Clark Fork in caring for their waterways through educational programs.  We also work with partners to restore streams via water conservation projects, forest road decommissioning, and habitat improvement projects. Results: We connect thousands of youth and adults each year in building a healthier Clark Fork through river cleanups, floats, snowpack monitoring, volunteer projects, workshops, and school programs.

Our Projects

nice trout in middle clark forkNinemile Creek: A history of mining has impaired water quality, caused severe streambank erosion, and denuded fish habitat in the Ninemile River drainage, the largest watershed in the Middle Clark Fork. It’s a critical spawning tributary for westslope cutthroat trout as well as historic habitat for the threatened bull trout.Fortunately, land managers and conservation groups are working together to remove mining waste and reconnect streams in the Ninemile. Our role includes managing 3 water lease projects, spaced from the top to the bottom of the drainage, which provide much-needed water into the system. We also monitor flow, temperature, and water depth at several spots in the Ninemile twice monthly from spring to fall, and work with partners on other habitat improvement projects.

kidsfloat_2ndClark Fork Kids Float: Each year we take 50-75 of kids from regional youth shelters and group homes on a whitewater rafting trip through Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River, connecting many of them to the river for the first time ever in their lives. It’s the thrill of a lifetime and an experience they never forget.  This annual event is made possible by generous support of ROW Adventures and the many friends of the Clark Fork Coalition – like you!  Click here to learn more.

Annual River Cleanup: In Missoula, people love their river and are passionate about treating it right. Every April, hundreds of volunteers join the Clark Fork Coalition’s Annual River Cleanup to remove over 5 tons of trash from 15 miles of riverbank. Click here to learn more.

Our Partners

Lolo National Forest; Trout Unlimited; Montana Trout Unlimited; Missoula County; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Environmental Protection Agency; Montana Department of Environmental Quality;  Montana Audubon; Blackfoot Challenge; Watershed Education Network; MPG Ranch; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; Clark Fork Watershed Education Program; City of Missoula; Missoula Poverello Center; Missoula Water Quality District; Missoula County Community & Planning Services; Missoula County Public Schools; Missoula Redevelopment Agency; Missoula Dept. of Parks & Recreation; Montana State Parks; RESPEC Consulting; REI; Rattlesnake Elementary School; Sussex School; Clark Fork School; University of Montana; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Missoula Climate Initiative (Providence St. Patrick Hospital, the city of Missoula, Community Food & Agriculture Coalition, Greenhouse Gas Mgmt. Institute, Montana Audubon, Alternative Energy Resources Organization, U.S. Forest Service, Great West Engineering, University of Montana)