Voice of the River

All Forward for the Gallatin

The mad dash of the holidays is behind us and winter has settled in across the upper Gallatin watershed. Finally, we’ve had some time to reflect on a busy 2019. At the Gallatin River Task Force, it was a year of change, growth, and progress, and that transition has positioned us to continue leading on river conservation and restoration.

2019 marked the beginning of our leadership of the Headwaters Alliance, a collaborative body working to solve some of the upper Gallatin’s most pressing water quality, quantity, and usage issues. Our leadership of this alliance is an indication that stakeholders up and down the watershed value our 20 years of expertise, a humbling responsibility and validation of our hard work and dedication.   

As leaders of the Headwaters Alliance, we’re excited to put newly raised funds to work. Our most visible project for 2020 will be streamside restoration south of the Deer Creek trailhead off Hwy. 191. Coming hot on the heels of our successful Moose Creek project, we will be launching a similar effort at this heavily used site. This access point sees significant summer pressure, and because of its popularity, users have unintentionally degraded streamside vegetation, leading to harmful erosion. We aim to mitigate that user impact by building a formal trail system for anglers, enhancing the launch ramp for boaters, replanting streamside vegetation and bolstering riverbanks. Work gets underway late this summer, so stay tuned for opportunities to volunteer, and look forward to more river-access restoration projects in the near future.

Restoration and conservation projects are a priority of the Headwaters Alliance, and these projects are highly visible, but most of our impact happens behind the scenes. That’s where you can have the most impact, as well. In 2020, we’ll continue to grow our rebate program for residents that want to keep water in the watershed and money in their pockets. By switching to more efficient toilets, showerheads, and clothes washers, you can save over $400 per household, not to mention your reduced water bills—and that’s just our indoor program. Our outdoor program includes hundreds more in savings, and irrigation is by far the largest tax on the water supply from residential users. New in 2020, we’re launching a trout-friendly landscaping accreditation—more on that program in early spring.

As always, we’re excited about our community outreach efforts in 2020, starting with the F3T fly fishing film tour March 18 at Lone Peak Cinema. This get-together marks the beginning of river season for us, and the lineup of films is sure to inspire and entertain. But what we truly love to see is citizen engagement with our watershed. Last year, we partnered with the Big Sky Community Organization on a dog-waste cleanup day that kept over one TRILLION fecal coliform colonies from entering our surface and groundwater resources. Nutrient reduction is another focal point for the Headwaters Alliance, and efforts like this are a big step in the right direction. You better believe we’ll be back at it this spring, scooping poop alongside our dedicated volunteers. Later in the summer, we’re partnering with the Gallatin Watershed Council on a riverside cleanup encompassing the upper and lower stretches of the river, and the goal is to haul away more trash than last year’s 1,200 pounds. We’ll need your help for a lift like that!

As you can see, 2020 will be as busy as ever, but we’re excited to go all forward for the Gallatin. There’s a lot of work to be done, and with the Headwaters Alliance at our side, we’re proud to lead the way.

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