The Bitterroot National Forest (BNF) of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, have partnered with the Bitterroot River Protection Association (BRPA) to conduct water quality monitoring on Bitterroot National Forest system lands within the Bitterroot River Basin. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two became effective March 1, 2021.
BRPA in partnership with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Bitterroot College, University of Montana and other groups have been conducting ‘Citizen Science’ water quality monitoring on the main stem and some tributaries of the Bitterroot River since 2017. According to the MOU, the volunteer monitoring group wishes to develop long-term monitoring sites on the Forest in an effort to determine a baseline for the quality of water leaving the Wilderness and Forest respectively. On its part, the Forest Service recognizes that this could benefit the long term monitoring plans on Bitterroot National Forest lands within the Bitterroot River Basin.
“We are very excited to be partnering with the BRPA on this effort,” said Stevensville District Ranger Steve Brown. “A solid long term monitoring strategy for the Bitterroot watershed will help to better inform our land management decisions and we are very happy to have the help of our local citizen scientists!”
BRPA Executive Director Michael Howell said that the Bitterroot River Health Check water quality monitoring program is actually sponsored by a collective of organizations, businesses, and individuals dedicated to establishing and maintaining a network of water quality monitoring and flow monitoring stations on the Bitterroot River and major tributaries throughout the watershed. The program currently monitors six permanent locations on the main stem of the river and 11 sites on six tributaries to the river on the Sapphire side of the valley.
“We were very pleased to see the interest shown by Bitterroot National Forest officials in our local efforts at forming a network of monitoring sites across the whole Bitterroot River Watershed and, with their partnership, we look forward to extending this network onto the Bitterroot Front,” said Howell.
For more information contact:
Michael Howell, Executive Director of the Bitterroot River Protection Association at [email protected] or call (406) 239-4838
Steve Brown, Stevensville District Ranger, Bitterroot National Forest, USFS at [email protected] or call (406) 777-5461