Watershed Basics Print
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The Clark Fork watershed drains nearly the entire western portion of Montana, and is home to over a third of Montana's population. The river and its tributaries have a biological, economic, and cultural impact on the entire Northern Rockies.


A quick quiz. What is Montana's largest river? The Missouri? Guess again. By volume, it's the Clark Fork.

Carrying snowmelt and rainfall from 22,000 square miles of terrain, the Clark Fork travels 320 miles from Butte to Lake Pend Oreille and discharges double the water that the Missouri wrings from the earth every year. It's one of the largest river systems in the Columbia River basin.  In an average year, by the time it crosses into Idaho, the Clark Fork is carrying 16.5 million acre-feet of water. That's equal to the volume of the entire Colorado River-- in a wet year.

Many of the Clark Fork's tributaries are legendary-- the Big Blackfoot, the Flathead, the Bitterroot-- and its terminus, Lake Pend Oreille, is Idaho's largest lake. The watershed's rivers, lakes, and streams are home to diverse forms of life, including thousands of species of mammals, birds, aquatic animals, insects, and vegetation.  Birdwatchers delight in the increasing number of ospreys, great blue herons, and bald eagles nesting by the river every year, while fishermen land dozens of species in some of the world's best trout streams.  The Clark Fork basin offers serenity and bounty, and we never tire of working to protect and improve its waters.  


Contact the Clark Fork Coalition:
406/542.0539
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