What is River Rec Monitoring?

girl splashing in water
July 10, 2018

Ask anyone at the Clark Fork Coalition what the best thing about living in the Missoula is, and the answer is unanimous: the rivers.

Missoulians are rich in river recreation opportunities, and you don’t have to work at a river conservation organization to see the values that a river flowing through town provides—just take a stroll down the river trail on any given day and you’ll see evidence of a river that is well-loved.

There are many different types of folks that use Missoula’s backyard river: kayakers and surfers on Brennan’s wave, swimmers and splashers (dogs and humans alike), the casual observer enjoying the meditative flow of the river from the shore, fishermen and women. And don’t forget the floaters—those folks that explore sections of river from all manner of watercraft (rafts, canoes, tubes, inflatable swans, you name it).

Fun boatersUndoubtedly, quality of life in the Missoula Valley is amplified because of access to rivers. And, as Missoula continues to grow, we must be prepared for more people turning to the river as a form of recreation, personal fulfillment, and cultural identity. At the Clark Fork Coalition, we are excited by the idea of more people finding enrichment on rivers (the more people who love the river means more people who want take care of the river), but we also want to ensure the management of our rivers is meeting the needs of both people and natural systems.

Because we are a science-based organization, we rely on numbers and facts to guide us to solutions. So this summer, Clark Fork Coalition, Missoula Parks and Recreation, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and Five Valleys Land Trust are teaming up to gather data on who and how many people are using the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers near town. The data collected will be used to guide future management decisions on these rivers—such as improving access for different types of users, maintaining the natural integrity of the riparian areas, as well as acquiring funding to make new projects possible.

This is where you come in! We are in need of volunteers to help us collect this data. If you like hanging out by the river on a hot summer day, this is your dream volunteer job! Volunteers will be stationed at Sha-Ron, the Madison Street Footbridge, and Buckhouse Bridge throughout the summer, recording how many river users they see in a 3-hour period. The data collected by volunteers will be critical while planning for the future of recreation on our rivers.

Want to play a role in the future of Missoula’s rivers? Join us as a volunteer! You’ll have to participate in some form of volunteer training before your first shift, so get in touch with Katie (katie@clarkfork.org or 542-0539 ext, 212) to learn how you can get involved! Check out and sign up for volunteer shifts here.

If rivers are as important to you as they are to us, you might be interested in other volunteer opportunities as well. Click here to learn more about our volunteer opportunities, including cleaning up the river, teaching watershed education and stewardship to local kids, and assisting with restoration projects.







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