MTPR

Clark Fork River

Smurfit-Stone Container mill outside Frenchtown, Montana.
Djembayz (CC-BY-SA-3)

People concerned about the contaminated Smurfit-Stone paper mill site west of Missoula are meeting tonight in Frenchtown at 6:00 p.m. They're considering forming a Community Advisory Group to better communicate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The 3,200 acre Smurfit-Stone site was proposed for listing under the EPA's Superfund program in 2013 over concerns about soil and groundwater contamination.

Flickr user, Harold (cc-by-2.0)

The so-called Quiet Waters Initiative — a slew of proposals that could redefine recreation on some Montana rivers and streams — rocked the boat at the first of several public hearings this week hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The agency is taking comment on nearly 30 proposed regulation changes that would limit horsepower, set seasonal restrictions and outright ban motorized watercraft along some rivers and stream segments that feed into the Clark Fork, Flathead, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers.

North American river otters.
Dmitry Azovtsev (CC-BY-SA-3)

At the end of last summer, as I sat in an eddy on the Clark Fork River, something furry and black caught my eye, moving as smoothly as the water itself. I was looking at a North American river otter. Remembering studying sea otters in elementary school, I wondered if I had just seen something rare for this region, and decided to do a little research.

Flathead NatioFlathead National Forest to update forest plan, seeks public inputnal Forest To Update Forest Plan
U.S. Forest Service

Two otters slip down a riverbank to merge with the cool depths of the Madison. An angler casts into a limpid pool. Nearby, a kingfisher plunges and emerges from the riffles, a minnow draped through its bill like a mustache. The profusion of wildlife in and around Montana’s blue-ribbon trout streams is no accident.

For 75 years, arsenic-laced waste from some of the world’s largest copper-mining operations accumulated behind Milltown Dam, located a few miles east of Missoula. Then in 1983, the dam, along with 120 miles of the Clark Fork River, was designated as a Superfund site. The 30-year saga of dam removal and clean-up is the focus of a book by David Brooks:  Restoring the Shining Waters: Superfund Success at Milltown, Montana.

Sponges: These Aquatic Oddities Call Montana Home

Sep 20, 2015
Spongilla lacustris, a widspread freshwater sponge often found under logs and rocks in lakes.
Kirt L. Onthank (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Although many people associate these stone-like animals with the crystalline waters of the tropics, several species of sponges do occur in lakes and ponds across North America, including those of western Montana. 

Freshwater diatom seen under a scanning electron microscope.
Courtesy UM Electron Microscopy Facility

The bottom of this shallow stream is covered with a complex community of algae, comprising many different species. Probably most abundant of all are the diatoms, many of which secrete a slippery mucus as they travel, leaving the rocks very slick.

A.J. Coulter guides fly fishing trips on rivers all around Montana. Recently, he’s been starting his trips earlier in the day to avoid angling in heat of the day so as to not catch unhealthy fish.
Corin Cates-Carney

Fish, and maybe you, are getting stressed out in this summer heat. But for fish, stress is made worse when, on top of trying to stay cool, they have to avoid eating a fly tied to a line.

In the heat wave of the past few weeks, guides and regulators have worked to protect fish during a time when fish are very vulnerable.

Shellfish In Montana: The Western Pearlshell

Jun 12, 2015

There are not many freshwater mussels west of the continental divide in Montana; in fact, there is only one native species here, the western pearlshell.

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

Pages