2016 Progress

Training & Education

MWCC Watershed Symposium, October 24-26th, 2016, Billings, MT.The MWCC Symposium is a three-day training conference for watershed communities across the state. This year’s conference is in Billings Montana. This year’s program is being designed to bring east and west together to discuss new ideas for watershed conservation under the theme, “Partnerships for Conservation Efficiency: Exploring the Community Approach to Effective Water Management, Education, and Restoration.” Committed supporters for 2016 include the members of the Symposium Advisory committee: Yellowstone Conservation District, Yellowstone River Conservation District Council, Missouri River Conservation Districts Council, Stillwater Watershed Group, Musselshell Water Coalition, DNRC-Water Management Bureau, and Bureau of Land Management.

Spring 2016 Webinar Series. In lieu of the upcoming Symposium and busy schedules of our watershed coordinators, MWCC is launching its first webinar series as a cost and time-saving way to share information with watershed groups. Topics include: State Procurement Guidelines (Montana Department of Environmental Quality), Overview of the Montana Water Information System (Montana State Library), Accessing Groundwater Information (Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology), and Accessing information on Montana’s Animals, Plants, and Biological Communities (Natural Heritage Program). Training materials will then be archived on the MWCC website and provide building blocks for future training. More details can be found on our Spring Webinar Series Page.

Environmental Education Mini Grants. MWCC is assisting Montana Watercourse in awarding five mini grants through the EPA Empowerment Program for environmental education projects throughout the state. Activities include water conservation through community gardening, community-wide non point source education, observing forest fire impacts to water quality through school-based water monitoring teams, and outdoor education. MWCC’s role is promotion of the opportunity as well as grant review and distribution.

Enhanced Online Resources. MWCC is currently seeking funding from many avenues for web development. MWCC’s website currently boasts an updated Watershed Coordinator Directory, an interactive Montana watersheds map, training & capacity-building Resources, calendar of water events, and Watershed News archive. Specific plans for 2016 include keeping this site updated and relevant as well as adding features. Namely, a Water Monitoring Clearinghouse, where monitoring locations of state, federal, tribal, and volunteer monitoring groups can inform one another on monitoring plans and information year to year. This space will serve as a one-stop shop for water monitoring resources and information. Current partners include: Montana State University Extension-Water Quality, Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Watercourse,

Capacity Building

Big Sky Watershed Corps. MWCC has again assisted its partners, Montana Conservation Corps, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana in placing 20 Big Sky Watershed Corps members statewide. Members will collectively provide more than 25,000 hours of service to watershed groups. MWCC has also acquired over $65,000 in funding that went directly to host sites to assist in covering host site fees, professional development, and other service member related costs. In 2016, MWCC will continue grant administration on pass through funding and recruit and approve host sites for the 2017 Big Sky Watershed Corps Program.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Capacity Building Program. Thanks to a multi-year partnership with BLM, the MWCC is available to assist conservation groups in eastern Montana who have a watershed goal or idea, but could use assistance building a specific capacity needed in order to reach their goals. MWCC will be approving project proposals in Spring 2016 and tracking capacity building activities throughout the year.

Missouri Headwaters Partnership. With the help of the Wilburforce Foundation, MWCC recently initiated a pass through capacity funding program for the Missouri Headwaters Partnership, a collective group of the nine sub-basin watershed groups in the upper Missouri Basin (upstream of Three Forks, MT). In 2016, MWCC will assist the group in defining its organizational structure and articulating shared conservation objectives. The result of this program will be direct capacity assistance to all nine participating groups as well as supporting a genuinely grass roots blue print for conservation objectives in the Basin.

Bringing People together

2016 Annual Meeting & Symposium. In December 2015, MWCC packed the Fish Wildlife & Parks Wild Center for its 2016 Annual Meeting. The meeting was a learning experience as well as a networking opportunity for watershed coordinators and agency personnel. MWCC understands that watershed work is accomplished through relationship building. The MWCC Annual Meeting and Symposium provide the opportunity for local watershed coordinators to meet with agency program personnel and grant managers to set the stage for current restoration projects. Funding will assist MWCC in executing the 2016 Symposium and 2017 Annual Meeting.

Coordination in the Clark Fork Basin. MWCC was asked in October 2015 to assist the Clark Fork Task Force in re visioning the role and purpose of a basin-wide coordinating entity. With help from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation MWCC will bring interested stakeholders within the Clark Fork Basin together for a series of facilitated meetings to assess the value and determine the need and purpose of a basin-wide collaborative.