Since our last update, the initial review period for the first full draft of the Lower Clark Fork Tributary Watershed Restoration Plan closed on April 30th 2019. Input was received from representatives from Avista, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Kootenai National Forest, and RC Resources. There will be another opportunity review the final document after initial edits have been incorporated.
In addition to this direct input on the draft document, we received verbal input and prioritized identified projects with stakeholders at our Project Prioritization meeting on May 8th 2019. Attendees of this meeting included representatives from Avista, Bull River Watershed Council, Kootenai National Forest, Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and RC Resources/Hecla Mining. The purpose of this meeting was to sit down with primary local stakeholders within the Lower Clark Fork Watershed to discuss the feasibility of identified projects as well as their relative priority. This exercise was a very important process for the development of this watershed restoration plan and these conversations will help guide restoration within the Lower Clark Fork Watershed.
As a reminder, the document is meant to serve as general guidance for approaching restoration in the drainage. The recommendations within the final document will not be set in stone – they are meant to be a starting place. Ultimately, projects will be implemented in the watershed when one organization has the resources to complete something on their own (in line with their own individual priorities), OR when a group of us have overlapping priorities, and can contribute, obtain funding, etc. to get something done. Individual mandates and funding priorities may change and affect our ability to implement even high priority projects. Our goal with this document is to create a starting point for planning and prioritizing projects in the watershed, but priorities can and will change overtime.
The next major step in the development of the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Restoration Plan is to combine and implement all of the input, comments, and edits received from local stakeholders on the document itself as well as proposed projects. Our goal is to have a final draft completed sometime during July 2019 so we can open a final comment period for stakeholders and then submit the document to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for comments and final approval.