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Using science-based advocacy to solve problems, promote stream-smart practices, and share knowledge

At the Coalition, we're invested in a host of efforts to protect the Clark Fork watershed.  With the triple threat of urbanization, the over-allocation of water resources, and climate change all bearing down on our rivers and streams, we advocate on behalf of proactive, science-driven, stream-smart practices that will protect the Clark Fork for the long-haul:

>> Future threats: We keep tabs on proposed projects from extractive industry, including the potential Copper Cliff mine in the Blackfoot watershed and the Rock Creek Mine in the lower Clark Fork.  See this link for our Clean Water Watchlist, the full list of threats we keep an eye on.

>> Local water: We acted as an intervenor in the sale of Mountain Water to the Carlyle Group, and we're advocating for public ownership of our municipal drinking water.

>> In the field: We're helping coordinate a host of monitoring and education efforts to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species, and make sure that rivers in the Clark Fork provide safe and responsible recreation opportunities for all of us.

>> Planning and growth: We're convening community-based climate adaptation efforts and hosting "stream-smart" workshops for realtors and landowners.

>> Sharing learning: We produce several publications each year, including our widely-read Low Flows, Hot Trout report, Stream Care Guide, and Working with Water brochure.

Clean Water Watch:

There are a host of projects and proposals that we feel might prove harmful to the health and vitality of the Clark Fork:

Mountain Water Sale: At the Coalition, we're paying close attention to the sale of Mountain Water Company to the Carlyle Group, and advocating for public ownership of our water utility.  Read more here.

Copper Cliff Mine Exploration in the Blackfoot: Kennecott Exploration Company has been sporadically exploring the headwaters of Union Creek above the Potomac Valley to determine if the area is economically feasible to mine.  We are tracking this project carefully - learn more here.

Cleanup at Smurfit-Stone: Redevelopment dreams at the shuttered Smurfit-Stone mill site in Frenchtown have been rekindled with the emergence of a new owner that specializes in reviving industrial sites through sustainable growth industries.  On May 4, 2011, Illinois-based Green Investments Group, Inc. (GIGI: announced it had purchased the 3,200-acre Smurfit property for $20 million, and would work to reconfigure the site in a way that complements other local industries, and that meets the economic needs and interests of the community.  Read more here.

High and Wide Corridor: The Coalition and our partners believe that the creation of a permanent industrial corridor for "big rig" transport of modules from the Port of Lewiston through northern Idaho and western Montana to the Alberta tar sands deserves a comprehensive environmental analysis that considers the potential for: impacts to emergency services, increased accidents and road closures, economic impacts of displacing recreation, costs to taxpayers, and impacts to water quality, fish and wildlife habitat along the route.  The latest: In July 2011, district judge Ray Dayton ruled that the Montana Department of Transportation is in violation of the law and issued a preliminary injunction, halting the project.  Read more here.

Aquatic Invasive Species: Thousands of river-lovers, guides, boaters, and anglers are committing to a new ethic in the Clark Fork watershed to inspect, clean, and dry.  Invasive aquatic species threaten native plants and wildlife, and proactive measures can prevent ecological and economic damage.  Read more here.

Mike Horse Dam and Mine Tailings Removal: At the headwaters of the scenic Blackfoot river, over a half million tons of mine waste have caused considerable damage to one of the region's most celebrated trout streams.  But our insistence has paid off.  Largely due to the public comments of over 8,000 citizens, the Mike Horse tailings dam is coming out.  Read more here.

Beal Mountan Mine Cleanup: Restoration efforts are underway at the Beal Mountain mine near Anaconda.  Touted as "environmentally-friendly" cyanide heap leaching, this mine has left massive destruction in its wake.  We are monitoring ongoing cleanup efforts as well as using Beal Mountain as a case study in our initiative to reform the 1872 Mining Law.  Read more here.

Rock Creek Mine: Four conservation groups, including the Clark Fork Coalition, have joined forces to file suit against a proposed controversial mine in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.  Through collaboration and by generating strong public opposition, we plan to halt this threat to water quality in its tracks.  Victory: In 2011, a state district court ruling voided a construction permit for the Rock Creek mine.  Read more here.

Natural Resource Damage Program Funds: A plan to spend $116.5 million fixing Clark Fork River Basin pollution damage received the governor's signature in December 2011.  That clears the way for communities from Butte to Missoula to restore or replace lands damaged by a century's worth of toxic waste from Anaconda Co. smelters and mines.  We'll keep you updated on next steps as NRD releases its general rules for submitting spending plans in 2012.   Read more here.

Closing the Exempt Well Loophole: The Coalition recently joined with four other ranchers from the Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Clark Fork basins to ask the Montana District Court to review a recent decision from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) upholding the Department's "exempt well rule." We believe the rule is inconsistent with legislative intent, and that it leaves ranchers and rivers at risk because it allows large appropriators of water to drill multiple small, unregulated wells without any oversight or permit.  Victory: In November 2010, a Montana state court judge signed off on an agreement reached by ranchers and the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to amend the rule that governs permit-exempt water wells.  In this victory for the river, DNRC must now consider the "collective impacts" to the water resource that result from multiple, unconnected wells pumping water for a single project-- i.e., a subdivision.  Read more here.