The Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group (LCFWG) was formed as an nonprofit conservation organization in 2003 to serve for the existing watershed councils engaged in protecting the water resources of key tributaries to the lower Clark Fork River. The LCFWG continues to coordinate collaborative restoration efforts by connecting private and public interests throughout the watershed, and is one of many watershed groups throughout the state of Montana connected by our common "watershed approach" to conservation.

The Watershed Approach:

  • Is tied to a distinct land area or hydrologic boundary
  • Ensures broad stakeholder involvement and inclusivity
  • Is community-based and community-driven
  • Relies on local leadership
  • Encourages collaboration with partners in the watershed
  • Strives for consensus, and avoids litigation as a conservation strategy
These shared principles of the Watershed Approach, as defined by the Montana Watershed Coordination Council, provide a framework under which watershed organizations may successfully define and pursue the conservation goals that best serve their geographic communities.
Partners engaging in collaborative restoration in Upper Prospect Creek

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 Watershed: 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.

Agency Partners

There are many agencies engaged in the protection and enhancement of water resources in the Lower Clark Fork.  The Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Forest Service (Kootenai and Lolo National Forests) are highly involved in restoration work in the Lower Clark Fork Watershed, promoting the conservation and restoration of habitat on private and public lands in Sanders County. Other agency partners include the Montana Department of Environmental QualityMontana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. 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.

Crow Creek in the Prospect Creek Drainage in winter, collaborative restoration

Corporate Partners

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.

Partner Organizations

Additionally, the LCFWG works collaboratively with other nonprofits organizations with overlapping missions and work, such as Trout Unlimited. Together, we can accomplish more good work for improved water quality and native fish!

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  that help coordinate and support collaborative projects for and with partners throughout the watershed. For more on the structure of the Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group, as an organization, see our bylaws here: Bylaws


Regan Plumb
Ruth Watkins
Jon Hanson
Sean Moran


Sarah Busmire, Watershed Coordinator

collaborative restoration in crow creek