Local, regional and national conservation groups play an important role in water quality and fisheries management on the Big Hole, Beaverhead and other rivers around the state. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks does an excellent job managing fisheries but non-profit groups go the extra mile while working as watchdogs to ensure water quality and ecosystems are reaching their full potential. Here are a few groups getting the job done in our area.
Trout Unlimited is a national operation focused on protecting trout habitat. The Montana chapter is focused exclusively on coldwater fisheries and they are a grassroots organization largely operated by volunteers. Specific Montana based projects include Trout Tracking Studies, Smith River Protections and individual river based conservation projects run by local leaders and volunteer groups.
This group is adamant about protecting the Big Hole river using a science based approach to managing the fishery. They have implemented long term water quality monitoring to track water chemistry throughout the entire river system. They conduct macroinvertebrate sampling to better understand the effects of pollutants on the foundational and most sensitive specimens in the river. This all ultimately works to ensure the Big Hole river is being protected and preserved for future generations.
Montana has a rich history of public access to waterways across the state. Streambeds are public and recreationists can fish and boat through private property so long as they utilize a public access point. Wealthy landowners have challenged this access law on numerous occasions in attempts to fence off sections of river for private benefit. The PLWA works to protect legal public access for boaters, hunters, anglers, hikers and everyone who wants to legally enjoy the great outdoors in Montana.
They aren’t in the same drainages that we outfit but their work is great. The Clark Fork River has a long history of mining pollution and this organization works to clean up waste and stop pollution from entering the drainage. They have a positive influence on the fishery and have made big strides in improving and stabilizing river health.
Montana is lucky to have numerous non-profit organizations working tirelessly to protect our fisheries and access to those fisheries. Support these groups and volunteer time where you can, even if that means doing a simple river cleanup day.