The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group (LCFWG) officially kicked off development of an update to the Lower Clark Fork Tributary Watershed Restoration Plan on February 15th with an initial stakeholder meeting to discuss general development goals and objectives. Ten stakeholder organizations were represented at the initial stakeholder meeting, including: LCFWG (board and staff), Avista, Bull River Watershed Council, Kootenai National Forest, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, Kaniksu Land Trust, Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana. At this meeting, stakeholders discussed watershed restoration plans, their purpose, and our goals for updating Lower Clark Fork Tributary Watershed Restoration Plan. A plan is already in place, but due to its age (completed in 2010) and changing watershed restoration plan standards, this plan is being rewritten/updated in order to reflect new watershed restoration plan standards, and, most importantly, to reflect current stakeholder priorities and lessons learned from restoration efforts in the last 7 years.
Major decisions made during this meeting includes the following:
- Projects identified for this plan will address tributary impairments (DEQ-listed impairments), native fish conservation concerns, and will use a top-down watershed approach where and when possible (this means pursuing projects in the headwaters or most upstream areas of each drainage before moving to downstream areas).
- Small order tributaries to the Lower Clark Fork River that are not listed as impaired by DEQ and are not necessarily native fish concern areas will also be included in the plan, even if just to identify data gaps or opportunities for investigation (examples: Dead Horse Creek, Government Creek, McKay Creek, Stevens Creek, Mosquito Creek, and Tuscor Creek).
- The process for collecting input from stakeholders throughout the year (on project identification, current stream conditions, and project prioritizations) will be at LCFWG quarterly meetings. After regular business is discussed, stakeholders will review watershed restoration planning information for a few drainages each meeting. Additional meetings will be planned if more time is needed. Materials will be sent out ahead of time for stakeholders to prepare.
- Our next stakeholder meeting will be held on June 14th (after the LCFWG 2nd quarterly meeting). Prior to this meeting, LCFWG staff will prepare introductory material for the plan and compile a complete list of tributaries to be included in the Lower Clark Fork Tributary Watershed Restoration Plan. We also hope to discuss a few streams where we are already active, such as the Vermilion River or Graves Creek.
- Throughout the watershed restoration planning process over the next year, the LCFWG will welcome local input. The LCFWG will reach out to existing contacts in each drainage and hopes to engage new landowners/stakeholders as well. If you are interested in participating in this planning process, please contact Brita Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406.203.4725.