A large number of streams in the Bitterroot Valley are now listed as "impaired" - they don't meet the standards for at least one of these uses:

  • Drinking water
  • Recreation (swimming)
  • Aquatic life
  • Water supply for Agriculture and industry.
  • Katie at the Bitter Root Water Forum said the Montana Department of Environmental Quality identified 34 streams in the valley's watershed that are on that list.

    The winter months give the Bitter Root Water Forum time to plan another season of projects to help the water quality, as they do every year. The forum's projects almost always focus on rebuilding plant growth at the edge of the streams.

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    Katie of the Water Forum said that in 2022, they will add to those plans with work in the Threemile Creek area to help fish passage and deal with sediment issues. They also are looking at some erosion on the banks of the East Fork of the Bitterroot River. That area has been center of water forum activities over the last few years. And, as they did in the Stevensville area this year, the forum folks will partner with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on improving the conditions at the Fishing Access Sites along the main stem of the Bitterroot.

    She said that the projects aim to shade some of the streams, establish root systems to hold back erosion, filter the "nonpoint course" pollutants and provide habitat for birds and wildlife. And they can always use more volunteers to help.

    Bitter Root Water Forum hats and shirts are good gifts, too. However, you want to purchase one for Christmas, the forum office at 178 South Second in downtown Hamilton will be closed until December 22.

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