Who We Are
The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group was formed in 2004 to serve as an “umbrella” organization for the existing watershed councils engaged in protecting the water resources of key tributaries to the lower Clark Fork River. The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group continues to coordinate collaborative restoration efforts by connecting private and public interests throughout the watershed.
Landowners and Watershed Councils
The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group partners with numerous landowners throughout the area to implement watershed restoration projects, and directs interested landowners to conservation resources that will enable them to steward their own properties. Watershed councils help organize local landowners and citizens to implement watershed management and restoration projects and protect the areas that they live in and love. There are eight established watershed councils in the lower Clark Fork: Elk Creek, Bull River, Pilgrim Creek, Rock Creek, Trout Creek, Whitepine Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and Prospect Creek. While the activity of watershed councils has varied over the years, the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group is available as a resource to support local-led watershed conservation efforts in tributaries to the lower Clark Fork River.
There are many agencies engaged in the protection and enhancement of water resources in the lower Clark Fork. The Green Mountain Conservation District, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Forest Service (Kootenai and Lolo National Forests) are highly involved in restoration work in the lower Clark Fork watershed. Other agency partners include the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Department of Natural Resources, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. These entities often provide financial support for watershed projects, through partnership and various grant or funding programs. Additionally, individuals from these organizations provide invaluable technical support and guidance for the watershed projects.
In 1999, Avista and many other parties signed the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement (CFSA) which is a part of Avista’s license to operate the Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids Dams on the lower Clark Fork River. The CFSA sets a course for the protection, mitigation and enhancement of natural resources and is a huge driver of watershed restoration projects in the lower Clark Fork watershed. The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group works under Avista’s Clark Fork Settlement Agreement to identity and coordinate projects within Avista’s project area, in partnership with Avista staff and other signers of the CFSA.
Additionally, NorthWestern Energy has a mitigation program associated with the Thompson Falls Dam, meant to conserve Bull Trout by improving fish passage and available habitat. In 2016, the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group began working with Northwestern Energy to identify opportunities for restoration in the Thompson River.
Organization and Staff
The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group is truly a collaborative group of people and organizations throughout the watershed all working on toward improved watershed health. The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit, with a board of directors and staff (a Watershed Coordinator and Watershed Restoration Plan developer) that help coordinate collaborative projects for and with partners in the watershed. For more on the structure of the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group, as an organization, see our bylaws here: Bylaws