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Continuing Education Courses

Interested in a 'Living Near Water' course?

Do you sell property next to a river, creek, lake, or wetland?  Are you a real estate professional or landowner looking to enhance your knowledge of waterfront property?  Then consider enrolling in a "Living Near Water" course in 2013, and receive up to 6 continuing education credits. Our next course will be held on Oct. 30 in the Flathead Valley.

We regularly recruit organizations and groups throughout the Clark Fork basin to host "Living Near Water" courses. For more info or to sign up, please contact Ellie Long at 406-542-0539, ext. 200 or email

Living Near Water Print E-mail


Join us for our next 'Living Near Water' course

Rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands are valuable resources and amentities that draw people to live in western Montana. Real estate professionals, builders, and architects have the opportunity to help property owners make the most of waterfront property, both economically and ecologically. Our next course will be held October 30 in the Flathead Valley.

We offer three different Living Near Water courses that are accredited by the Montana Board of Realty Regulation.  We can teach these courses all on the same day, or mix-and-match them to your preference -- each course is 2 credits, for a total of 6 possible credits in the Living Near Water series.  The goal of the series is to teach participants about the science, regulations, and "how to" of living on property near streams, wetlands, lakes or reservoirs. 

Wednesday October 30, 2013  
Enhancing Resource and Property Value- 2 mandatory CE credits
Polson Fire Hall, Big Arm, MT  
This course is free and open to the public. For more information or to register for this course contact Ellie Long at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 542-0539 ex. 200  

Wednesday October 30, 2013  
Do's and Don't for Riparian Property Field Course- 2 mandatory CE credits
Meet at the Polson Fire Hall in Big Arm to carpool.
This course is free and open to the public. For more information or to register for this course contact Ellie Long at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 542-0539 ex. 200

Download course descriptions below:

> Enhancing Property and Resource Values

> Rules, Rights, and Permits

> Field Trips: Dos and Don'ts for Waterfront Property

Topics include: how to avoid flood risk, property damage, and water pollution; how to navigate permits and regulations for riparian areas, water quality, and floodplains; stream-friendly landscaping and livestock maintenance tips, as well as resources for restoring and managing streamside property.

Issues with living near water -- A look at flooding in the Clark Fork watershed (Spring 2011)

A snowy winter in 2011 followed by a long, cool spring produced near-record snowpack, and also stretched out the runoff season.  As a result, the flood peaks weren't as high as they might have been.  Had the weather warmed quickly, snowmelt would have gushed from the mountains much faster, and rivers would have risen higher.  Instead, we saw a prolonged period of flooding that lasted from late May to late June.  The flood peaks on some streams qualified as 10-20 year events.  The Clark Fork at Turah and through Milltown was about a 35-year event-- the highest flow in 25 years on record.  But, as big as it was, it could have been much more extreme:


High water at kelly IslandHigh water in Missoula:  Tower Street and beyond
As many of us witnessed or experienced first-hand, neighborhoods between Reserve Street and Kelly Island (pictured) in Missoula saw the most severe damage to homes and property, due to high water on the Clark Fork this year.  The river was at about a 20-year flood event level through town—similar to 1997, but the high water lasted much longer.  (A note on the terminology:  a “20-year flood” doesn’t come every 20 years—rather, in any given year, we have a 5% chance of a 20-year because of flooding.)


cottonwood-lowresBig water: Creeks overflowing their banks
A number of smaller tributaries in the Clark Fork basin also experienced notable high water events.  The Thompson River was the 7th highest in 56 years of record, and the river stayed above National Weather Service (NWS) flood stage for 4 days.  Many smaller streams without official NWS flood stages also spilled over their banks, including Silver Bow Creek in the headwaters of the basin, Warm Springs Creek in Anaconda, Cottonwood Creek in Deer Lodge (pictured), Rock Creek near Clinton, and the South Fork of the Jocko River, among others.


Milltown-upstream-lowresHow did Milltown fare?
The newly restored floodplain at Milltown gave the Clark Fork room to roam through its widest floodplain available up to this point from Warm Springs on down.  One interesting note:  the river jumped out of its newly constructed channel at one point, and flowed preferentially into a side channel just upstream of the Clark Fork-Blackfoot confluence.  The restoration team is evaluating the changes and deciding on next steps.  Also, some new riparian plantings were lost to the flood, but deposition of new seed and silt from receding waters means that certain areas scheduled for seeding this year might not need it after all.  Native grasses are already appearing, and most of the wood placed in the floodplain for micro-topography and erosion control survived the flood.

Videos, Maps, and Guides:

Falling for the Creek: This video by Montana Audubon and Conservation Media was produced with funds from TogetherGreen, a project of the National Audubon Society and Toyota.  Janet Ellis, Montana Audubon's program director was a 2010 TogetherGreen Fellow.  Falling for the Creek (MT Audubon) from Conservation Media on Vimeo.

Stream Care Shorts: What happens beside a river makes a big difference to what's going on beneath the surface.  Building too close to the river's edge can harm fish and wildlife, and even damage our property.  Luckily, a little care goes a long way.  Check out our Stream Care Shorts at the Coalition's YouTube page to learn a few simple ways to make a big difference.

Channel Migration Zone (CMZ) Maps: In December 2009, the Missoula Water Quality District released a pilot channel migration study for a stretch of the Clark Fork River downstream of Missoula to Huson.  The study documents where the channel has been historically-- and where it may be again within the next 100-years.  Visit the County website to download the CMZ maps.

Stream Care Guide: The Coalition's second edition of its Stream Care Guide, released in 2009, outlines the benefits of good stream stewardship, including: increased property value, erosion prevention, avoidance of flood loss, preserved water quality, and improved habitat for birds, fish, and wildlife.

More Resources:

Channel Migration Zone Maps: See how they work in the Yellowstone River basin's 12 counties

Missoulian article: Take me to the river: Float trip focuses on issues surrounding streamside protection

"Setbacks Facts" Informational Brochure by the Clark Fork Coalition

"How to Grow?" Setbacks article from Winter 2007 Currents by the Clark Fork Coalition

"Why Setbacks?" Setbacks article from Spring 2008 Currents by the Clark Fork Coalition

"Lessons in Flooding" Setbacks article from Summer 2008 Currents by the Clark Fork Coalition

Montana Audubon: Series on Scientific Recommendations on the Size of Vegetated Buffers

Governor's Task Fork for Riparian Protection

NewWest.Net Article: The Skinny on Streamside Setbacks (2.25.08)

University of Wisconsin: Analysis of Zoning to Protect Lakefront Amenities (21 pp.)

Cleveland State University: Hedonic Analysis of Riparian/Wetland Setbacks (43 pp.)

Citizens for a Better Flathead: Compiled Research (3 pp.)

Ravalli County Streamside Setback Committee

Montana Watercourse: “Montana’s Ground Water: A citizen’s guide to understanding and protecting ground water."