Blackfoot and Clearwater Citizen Science Stream Monitoring

Administering Entity: Clearwater Resource Council (CRC)
Entity Type(s): Watershed Groups
Select all that Apply: Streams, Rivers
Primary Data Type(s): Biology, Discharge, Water Chemistry
Primary Watershed Monitoring Objective(s): Baseline, Problem identification, Trends, Restoration Project Effectiveness, Streamgage, Education and Outreach
Subbasin: Swan, MT (17010211), Blackfoot, MT (17010203)
Aquatic Invasive Species Type: Eurasian watermilfoil, Curly-leaf pondweed, Zebra or Quagga mussel
Counties: Powell County, Missoula County, Flathead County
Volunteers: Yes
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Contact Name: Joann Wallenburn
Contact Email:

The Southwestern Crown Collaborative, with other partners, has funded the Clearwater Resource Council (CRC), the Blackfoot Challenge, and Swan Valley Connections to conduct water quality monitoring in the Blackfoot, Clearwater, and Swan River watersheds. CRC was funded to coordinate the work in the Clearwater Watershed partnering directly with teachers, students, and community members. The goal was to gain a broader understanding of current conditions in streams across the Basin and provide the foundation to detect long‐term changes in these systems. Our objectives were to: 1) maintain the ongoing, intensive monitoring on Morrell Creek; 2) extend basic water quality data to streams throughout the Clearwater Basin; 3) support similar work in the Swan and Blackfoot streams; and 4) consider limitations of volunteer based sampling as a useful measure of stream conditions. Full time stream flow and temperature monitoring has been conducted in Morrell Creek, in collaboration with local schools, since November of 2011. In 2016, we maintained the gage and collected every other hourly measurements of stage and temperature. We also conducted routine measurements of stream flow. Water quality sampling included 20 samples for four nutrient fractions (total P, ortho‐P, Total N, NO2+NO3‐N), total suspended solids (TSS), and turbidity. All of the work on Morrell Creek was done in collaboration with teachers and students at Seeley Lake Junior High and Seeley Swan High School. The high‐resolution information generated by the Morrell Creek site provides a foundation for long‐term monitoring of that watershed, a basis for extrapolation and comparison of conditions in other streams, and the foundation of a curriculum designed to link science and local issues. We also worked with 12 volunteers to sample 28 sites across the Basin. Volunteers collected regular samples for turbidity, TSS, total N and total P and stream stage.