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Flathead County at sunset. Image from Patrice O’Neill’s film, The Fire Next Time.

Flathead County is one of the fastest growing counties in Montana in the state due to the high quality of its natural environment, scenery and recreational opportunities. Unfortunately, the recent influx of population and land development is putting new stress on our land and water resources by increasing the amount of non-point source pollution entering our streams and lakes, exposing our lands and waters to invasive plants and animals and leading to loss of critical habitat for wildlife. Learn more about non-point source pollution in our valley.

As Flathead Valley grows and develops our waters and critical habitats are facing new and increasing threats. Knowledge is key to helping keep the Flathead an ecological treasure, and there are many things you can do as a landowner, business owner, or concerned citizen to help protect our local environment. We hope you find many helpful resources here but if you don’t, please feel free to contact the Flathead Conservation District office for more information.

Publications:

    • Non Point Source Pollution Brochure is a Flathead Conservation District publication that helps local landowners better understand the effect NPS pollution has on waterways and how they can reduce the effects.
    • Dryland Pastures in Montana and Wyoming is a guide for farmers and ranchers to assist in species selection, seeding techniques, and grazing management.
    • Montana Native Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Plantings highlights the importance of establishing nectar and pollen sources, shelter and breeding environments for pollinators and other beneficial insects.
    • Flathead Watershed Sourcebook is a companion website to the book of the same title, which together serve as a primer to the Flathead Watershed. The Flathead Watershed Sourcebook weds science and art, nature and human nature into an appealing and informative resource for citizens and educators.
    • Creating Native Landscapes in the Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains provides landowners an option to reduce and conserve water, reduce air pollution, and decreased use of fertilizers and pesticides.
    • The Montana Lake Book includes lots of information you can use to help protect Flathead Lake or other lakes.  This information is a great resource for lakeshore landowners, lake recreators and concerned citizens who care about protecting clean water and healthy lakes.
    • Room to Roam brochure is a new home builder’s guide to responsible development near rivers, streams, and wetlands.
    • MT Guide to Stream permitting: A Guide for Conservation District Supervisors and Others is a publication developed to assist conservation districts and agencies in reviewing stream projects.
    • Waterfront landscapes is a quick guide on planning your landscape along a body of water. It includes a short list of plants suitable for this habitat. The Center for Native Plants has many other helpful publications.
    • Creating Native Landscapes in the Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains provides excellent info on using native plants to create an environmental friendly landscape while reducing your water and maintenance requirements using Xeriscaping.
    • Noxious Weed Management Tips provides a contact list of professionals you can contact for help with weed management, tips on how to launder clothes contaminated with herbicide, instructions on how to calibrate a boom and bloomless sprayer, tips on how to read an herbicide label and photos of Flathead County noxious weeds.
    • A Teacher’s Guide to Outdoor Education Sites and Programs in the Flathead Region– Explore the educational sites and programs available in the Flathead Region for fun and effective field trips in this eBooklet. Created with teachers in mind, the eBooklet describes the sites and associated educational programs; provides the logistical details for planning the trips; lists the Montana Curriculum Content Standards; and links to additional resources for creating lesson plans.
    • Educational Trunk List 2015– The Flathead region has a number of organizations that make educational trunks available for loan- oftentimes at no charge. The link above is to a pdf document that was assembled by the Flathead CORE of all the the trunks that we are currently aware of. It even contains links to organizations outside the Flathead region for folks willing to do a little more work or who can pay to have a trunk shipped here. These resources are wonderful tools for educators, youth group leaders, home schools, etc. for use in their classrooms.
    • Ranching for Rivers  is a pilot program supported by Soil and Water Conservation Districts of MT (SWCDM) and the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council, which helps ranchers develop riparian pastures on their lands by providing 50% cost-share for riparian fencing and related infrastructure (water gaps, off-site tanks, etc) projects.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

New state AIS regulations aimed helping the fight against aquatic invasive species in Montana went into effect April 15, 2017. Invasive mussels are a huge concern in the Flathead Valley since Whitefish Lake and the Flathead River system are the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin — the only major watershed in the West still believed to be free of quagga and zebra mussels. Learn about how you can help keep mussels out of the Flathead Lake watershed.

Pollinators

Pollinator populations are declining due to disease, parasites, exposure to pesticides, loss of forage to herbicide use, and degradation of food sources. Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana (SWCDM) has developed a new pollinator webpage sharing education and outreach materials emphasizing the relationship between pollinators and agriculture. The page provides links to ongoing projects that can help you develop ideas for your own pollinator project, resources and organizations to assist you with carrying out those projects, and funding sources to get them off the ground.

Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs)

BMPs are practices that have been adopted to minimize non-point source water pollution from forest practices. While not required by regulation, the use of BMPs has been widely accepted by the forest products industry, family forests, tribal and other agencies. Here are two helpful BMP publications if you own or manage forests: the BMP Handbook Guidelines, and the Montana Forestry BMP Illustrated Guide which contains the handbook guidelines and explains reasons for using them.

Our partner, Flathead Lakers, has created additional BMP factsheets and provides helpful links on their website.

Learn more about Flathead Valley’s 1964 Flood.

Check current Flathead Valley United States Geological Survey (USGS): Dam, River and Lake levels 

 

List of Conservation District related Acronyms:

AIS: Aquatic Invasive Species
BMP
: Best Management Practices
CORE: Flathead Community of Resource Educators
CWA: Clean Water Act
DEQ: Montana Department of Environmental Quality
DNRC: Montana Department of Natural Resource Agency
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
FCD: Flathead Conservation Agency
FBC: Flathead Basin Commission
FRC: Flathead River Commission
FWP: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
HBWC: Haskill Basin Watershed Council
MACD: Montana Association of Conservation Districts
MCC: Montana Conservation Corps
NPS: Non Point Source (Pollution)
NRCS: Natural Resources Conservation Service
R2L: River to Lake Initiative
SWCDM: Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana
TMDL: Total Maximum Daily Load
TN: Total Nitrogen
TP: Total Phosphorus
USACE: US Army Corps of Engineers
USGS: US Geological Survey
WLI: Whitefish Lake Institute
WRP: Whitefish Restoration Plan

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