Clearwater River, MT
An ecologically significant area within the Crown of the Continent ecoregion, the Clearwater watershed in northwest Montana is home to core populations of bull trout, west slope cutthroat trout and many important terrestrial species like grizzly and black bear, Canada lynx and bald eagle. Timber harvest and production, construction and hospitality services drive the economy of the Clearwater Valley, and residents prize the area’s ecological wealth and rural lifestyle.
While the watershed continues to support a rich diversity of ecological and social values it is also facing significant challenges. Industrial-scale forest management, riparian encroachment from past and ongoing streamside development, introduction of non-native plants and animals, water resource development and climate change all have an impact on the watershed’s streams, lakes and uplands. While a variety of agencies and organizations had attempted to address these issues, prior to the BEF partnership no single entity was tasked with coordinating all efforts to ensure the watershed’s values were restored and stewarded in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
Recognizing both the ecological value and natural resource-related challenges facing their watershed, the Clearwater Resource Council (CRC) is pursuing a vision of watershed-scale restoration. At the center of this vision is a commitment to facilitate collaboration and coordinate activities that span both terrestrial and aquatic systems, and to engage multiple public- and private-land owners. However, to effectively realize their comprehensive restoration vision, the CRC needed a partner that could help them sustain these integrated and strategic efforts over the long-term.
In 2011, the CRC became a Model Watershed Program partner, which provides them with the long-term stability and technical support they need to make strategic, focused and collaborative progress toward achieving their vision. To assist in accomplishing this, BEF helped CRC develop a 10-year watershed plan.
Using the watershed plan as a roadmap, CRC has started to implement a suite of strategies around the general themes of: agency, NGO and landowner coordination; community outreach; and filling critical information gaps.
CRC recognizes the important role of the community in achieving these goals while maintaining the natural resource values and ecological services of the watershed. They continue to develop the capacity and commitment of interested community citizens and professionals.
—Bill Wall, President of the Board, Clearwater Resource Council