Tag Archives: mt

Paradise Valley Heats Up: How Healthy Streams Can Help Mitigate the Impacts of Wildfire

From our THI headquarters south of Livingston, Mont. thick, black smoke has been seen billowing from the Pine Creek Fire. The 12,000-acre blaze will be recorded during a fire season that’s already five times Montana’s normal level for acres burned. As crews work to douse the blaze, at least seven Paradise Valley drainages are under threat.  Like 85 percent  of our nation’s fires, the Pine Creek Fire was likely human caused.

The increase in human-caused fires, whether accidental or prescribed, combined with fire suppression activities, have an impact on natural plant communities. Fire is a natural process in many forests and prairie environments that allows these ecosystems to mature and undergo a process called vegetative succession.  In fact, many plants are adapted to withstand fire conditions, and either colonize quickly after a burn, or have special adaptations that require intense heat in order to release seeds.

However, in some heavily-developed areas, hotter, catastrophic fires may be more common due to fire suppression activities, which allow fire fuel loads to build. In other areas, frequent prescribed burns or frequent accidental burns may have slowed succession, preventing natural plant communities from maturing.

Whatever the case, healthy, diverse, streamside vegetation and wide, lush floodplains can buffer the effects of wildfire and protect water quality by having the ability to reseed and recover more quickly than streams devoid of vegetation. Roots of woody vegetation can hold the soil, reducing siltation to streams.

How does fire impact streams?

Natural, low intensity fires can provide improved aquatic habitat through increased channel complexity and are an important part of a healthy stream ecosystem.  Short-term impacts however, or long-term impacts from high-intensity fires may need to be mitigated to protect water quality and aquatic life. 

Following a wildfire event, ash and burnt organic matter fall into the water, raising nutrient concentrations and using-up dissolved oxygen.  Water may be blackened, cloudy and scummy from ash, affecting visibility for fish and possibly clogging gills.  During this period fish kills are possible. Reptiles, frogs and river mammals that have survived the fire may also be further disturbed during this period.  If fire suppression was attempted, fire suppressant chemicals that have entered the stream may cause fish kills or affect nutrient concentrations. Extreme heat can cause soils to become hydrophobic, reducing water infiltration, increasing runoff, and limiting natural regeneration of vegetation.

Other short-term effects of fire on streams and rivers include an increase in the amount of light reaching the stream, which promotes changes in fish, insects, plants, and algae. Increased water temperatures and greater fluctuations in temperature ranges reduce dissolved oxygen. Reduced ground cover and streamside vegetation mean less filtration capacity and higher amounts of sedimentation and organic debris entering the stream.  Stream banks that are unprotected by vegetation and roots are more likely to erode, increasing sediment load, which can, if left untreated, lead to changes in riverbed structure and water quality. Overhanging vegetation no longer offers cover against predators for fish and aquatic insects or larvae, nor supplies terrestrial insects and organic matter to the stream.

If left untreated, longer-term effects may include the formation of debris jams from dead trees falling into streams, altering water flow patterns and even creating permanent changes to the stream channel.  Nutrient concentrations can remain high for a number of months, possibly as a side-effect of changed nutrient cycling or decomposition of woody debris. Without treatment, sediment movement can take years to recover to pre-fire conditions. Fire damaged streams can benefit greatly from low-cost treatments that restore native vegetation, giving nature a boost in the recovery process.

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Sold Out Shows and Rave Reviews – Don’t Miss “Where the Yellowstone Goes”

The new adventure documentary, “Where the Yellowstone Goes” follows a small crew on a soul-searching and inspirational journey along the longest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States: the Yellowstone River. They’ll rally together the supplies they need, including a hand built drift boat and set course on a voyage of grand proportions and life defining events.

Experience silhouetted moments of the crew fly fishing in the amber morning light, telling life stories by a fire and connecting with colorful folks along the way. Add to this the unending sounds and sights of a massive water flow, flanked on each side by huge, snow-capped mountains and plains full of elk and deer, and bald eagles. This is Montana, this is the Yellowstone River and this is one of the most spectacular and unique landscapes in the world. 

06/19/12 Boise, ID Egyptian Theatre

06/20/12 Ellensburg, WA Student Union and Recreation Center

06/21/12 Seattle Harvard Exit Theatre

06/22/12 Concrete, WA Concrete Theater

06/23/12 Concrete, WA Concrete Theater

06/24/12 Concrete, WA Concrete Theater

06/25/12 Bend, OR Tower Theatre

06/26/12 Portland, OR McMenamins Bagdad Theater

See all screening dates and buy tickets at: http://www.wheretheyellowstonegoes.com/screenings/


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Water Law: U.S. Supreme Court Reinvigorates Public Trust Doctrine, Clarifies Possession of Missouri River Bottomland

The 16-kilometer (10-mile) stretch of the Missouri River where it passes Great Falls,Montana, was once so swift, roiling, and precipitous that, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition spent 11 days hauling equipment and boats on an overland portage to continue their transcontinental journey.

Earlier this year, the same fast-flowing reach again came to national attention, when the United States Supreme Court unanimously clarified the ownership of the riverbed beneath the Missouri and two other Montana rivers, the Madison and the Clark Fork.

In February’s 9-to-0 ruling — which overturned a previous decision by the Montana Supreme Court from March 2010 — the high court also asserted, emphatically, that states have the authority to protect the public’s use and enjoyment of rivers, regardless of who owns the bottom. In doing so, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed a state’s authority to implement and enforce river safeguards to prevent interference with public use and environmental harms.

What might, at first glance, appear to be a loss for Montana has actually set a precedent to protect water as a public trust in the United States during an age when water is increasingly being viewed as a commodity.

Read more of this special to the Circle of Blue by James Olson:

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Where the Yellowstone Goes Hosts World Premiere in Bozeman

 Filmmakers in attendance along with musical guest Open Range

BOZEMAN, Montana (May 3, 2012) – A feature documentary film from award-winning filmmaker Hunter Weeks will host its world premier in Bozeman later this month. The adventure feature, “Where the Yellowstone Goes,” filmed on the Yellowstone River this summer, will debut at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 19 at The Ellen Theatre.
“After completing the film, we knew Montana was the right place to hold the world premiere. It’s a story that captures the essence of what makes this place so special,” said director, Hunter Weeks.

The crew floated nearly 600 miles in a hand-made drift boat, capturing notes of wisdom as told by the locals met throughout the 30-day adventure on the Yellowstone River. The longest undammed river in the United States, the Yellowstone’s unspoiled beauty is legendary. With elements of fly-fishing, conservation, and the type of clarity that can only be found upon slowing down, “Where the Yellowstone Goes” is more than a simple journey. It’s about people, our environment, and the harmony that exists between them.  

From the film’s river guides to the companies that got the project off the ground,Where the Yellowstone Goes” has received tremendous support throughout Montana. Presenting sponsor Trout Headwaters Inc. headquartered in Livingston, Mont., Simms Fishing Products in Bozeman and the Montana Office of Tourism were among the first to rally behind the film.

 “We couldn’t be more pleased with the way the film portrays this precious resource, and how it will continue to advance understanding, love and conservation of theYellowstone River for many years to come,” said Michael Sprague, President of Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Special musical guest , OpenRange, will kick off the event. The Livingston, Mont. band provides music for the film’s soundtrack. Immediately following the screening, the cast and crew will participate in a question and answer session. Tickets are $15 plus a $1 restoration fee for The Ellen Theater.

Sarah E. Hall, Producer
(952) 239-3998

Presented by Trout Headwaters, Inc., Where the Yellowstone Goes is a feature length documentary film following a 30-day drift boat journey along the Yellowstone River. Filmed in August and September of 2011, the film follows a small crew down theYellowstone River from Gardiner, MT to the confluence of the Missouri River atFort Buford, ND. “Where theYellowstone Goes” is a Thoughtful Adventure from Red Popsicle films. Additional film sponsors include Montana Office of Tourism, Simms, and Costa Sunglasses. It is the 4th directorial release from Hunter Weeks whose credits also include 10 MPH and Ride the Divide.

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Engineering Cannot Save Our Rivers

We note the draft language in Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance requiring that “a licensed professional engineer” (P.E.) design all stream restoration and bank stabilization projects undertaken in Montana.  While engineering is an important professional discipline, the proposed rule as written would greatly diminish the vital roles played by hydrologists, fluvial geomorphologists, sedimentologists, ecologists, and the other skilled scientists in this important work.  Further, it’s very important to understand that there is no consistent requirement in a professional engineer’s academic training or in Montana’s P.E. certification criteria that would dictate the attainment of specific skills for stream bank stabilization and restoration.

Decades of misguided, hard-engineering attempts to force natural stream systems into unnatural configurations have resulted in unhealthy, armored floodplains along many of our nation’s streams, including in Montana.  History will likely describe our time as a period of human failure – the failure to understand and the failure to accommodate the most basic ecological needs and functions of our precious water resources. These waters and their floodplains serve a broad host of ecological services for humans and wildlife, providing biodiversity, aquifer recharge and carbon sequestration. Without the protection of these basic functions, we will pass to the next generation a tarnished legacy of damaged and destroyed resources.

Any successful stream restoration or bank stabilization project requires a multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary team of scientists and technicians to ensure success. THI would suggest that granting a design monopoly for stream bank stabilization and river restoration to engineers may simply expose many P.E.’s to increased liability due to a general lack of direct experience in these applications.

Anyone interested in the future of Montana’s Floodplains, Rivers and Wetlands should comment on Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance now:  Traci Sears phone: 406-444‐6654, or via email  at  tsears@mt.gov

>>Read the Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance http://dnrc.mt.gov/wrd/water_op/floodplain/news/draft_model_ordinance.pdf


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Where the Yellowstone Goes – World Premiere and Film Festival Premiere

The World Premiere of Where the Yellowstone Goes is happening May 19, 2012 at The Ellen Theatre in Bozeman, Montana.  Show starts at 7:30 PM.  Seating is limited and this event will sell out fast, so get yours now!  Go to www.theellentheatre.com or by phone at 406-585-5885.

Where the Yellowstone Goes will be coming to these cities!

  •  Boulder,CO
  •  Missoula,MT
  •  Seattle,WA
  •  Minneapolis,MN
  •  St. Cloud,MN
  •  Livonia,MI
  •  …and many more

 For more news on Upcoming Screenings visit http://www.wheretheyellowstonegoes.com/screenings/ 

Host-a-Screening kits will be available starting in June. If you’re interested in hosting your own screening of Where the Yellowstone Goes, get in touch with us for details http://www.wheretheyellowstonegoes.com/contact/

The feature documentary will make its Film Festival Premiere at the Newport Beach Festival in California on April 27, 2012 tickets are available via http://newportbeach.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/wheretheyellowstonegoes_hunterweeks_newportbeach2012 

Be sure to join us (and please bring a friend) to the showing nearest you.  We hope to see you at the World Premiere!

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Filming Begins for New Adventure Feature – “Where the Yellowstone Goes”

Film sponsor, Trout Headwaters, Inc., hosted a celebration of the longest un-dammed river in the contiguous United States at the Yellowstone Valley Lodge on Aug. 26, 2011.  Dinner was served by Chef Josh Pastrama


Livingston, Mont. – A launch party was held on Friday, Aug. 26 at Yellowstone Valley Lodge south of Livingston to celebrate a new film project titled, “Where the Yellowstone Goes.” The film’s presenting sponsor, Trout Headwaters, Inc., along with other long-time protectors of the Yellowstone River, welcomed the film crew’s drift boat as it arrived in Paradise Valley. The crew had put in near Gardiner, Mont. a few days earlier on Aug. 22.

From the producers of the award-winning adventure film, “Ride the Divide,” and acclaimed director Hunter Weeks, the feature-length Yellowstone documentary will follow a small crew on a month-long journey as they navigate America’s longest free-flowing waterway.  Weeks will apply his style of journey-documentary filmmaking to create a story that inspires and captures anecdotal happenings along the way, helping illustrate a sense of how much the river has evolved since Lewis & Clark explored the region a mere 205 years ago.

“Given recent news about the Yellowstone River, I think this is a really timely and important journey and I suspect the story that unfolds will teach us so much about ourselves, the vanishing West, and some really special places in Montana,” said Weeks.

Michael Sprague, president of Trout Headwaters, gave thanks for the important work the documentary crew is doing. “At this moment, the same Yellowstone River that helped to define our nation more than 200 years ago is more important than ever in defining the role our water resources will play in the future,” he said.

The Montana Office of Tourism, a film supporter, has commissioned a web series that will be available when the film releases in spring of 2012. Simms Fishing Products, American Rivers, and Costa del Mar Sunglasses are also sponsors of the film.

The film crew will release stories, videos, and photos as they float. Follow www.WhereTheYellowstoneGoes.com to hear stories from the journey or to communicate with the expedition and film crew.

About “Where the Yellowstone Goes”:
Where the Yellowstone Goes” is a feature-length documentary film brought to you by the producers of award-winning films, “10 MPH” and “Ride the Divide.” Director Hunter Weeks has developed a successful track record with producing inspirational, journey-focused films that have reached millions through The Documentary Channel, Netflix, iTunes, and YouTube. “Where the Yellowstone Goes” will use a cross media approach with distribution to ensure the story extends well beyond the feature content.

About Trout Headwaters, Inc.:
Since 1995  (Trout Headwaters, Inc., THI) has been an industry leader in cost-effective, environmentally-sound biostabilization and restoration technologies for stream and wetland renewal and repair. From our Paradise Valley, Mont. headquarters overlooking the Yellowstone River, THI serves private landowners, associations, government, and industry nationally.

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Where the Yellowstone Goes – Sneak a First Peek

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_ujfDRJ02g]

The Yellowstone River remains one of our last natural waterways linking the America of today with an area only few have encountered. No other river in the world is more visited than the Yellowstone at Artist point, within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, yet 500 miles downstream in North Dakota, it is completely deserted. Fly fishing guide and 4th generation Montanan, Robert Hawkins will lead a small crew on a soul searching and inspirational journey by floating the longest free flowing river in the contiguous United States; the Yellowstone River.

Join www.WheretheYellowstoneGoes.com online for the latest information or visit the project at Facebook.com/RiverFilm.

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Native Fish Restoration: Codewords for Poison

A recent poisoning disaster on Cherry Creek near Bozeman apparently hasn’t slowed Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ commitment to poison additional pristine waterways in the name of “native fish restoration.” The agency announced that this summer it will target seven mountain lakes and 18.5 miles of stream on the upper Boulder River in an attempt to restore native Yellowstone Cutthroat trout.

Unfortunately, the $40,000 project will eliminate more than targeted Rainbow trout and Rainbow hybrids. Non-target native fish, amphibians and insects will be wiped out during these poisonings as well. Research has shown that some species never return.  Public comment is being taken until June 20, 2011.

Read the full article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_fa50d3e3-4f7b-566a-962d-b30995338376.html?mode=story

Read the draft EA: http://fwpiis.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=50506

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Scientists, Naturalists, and Interested Volunteers: Apply to Participate in BioBlitz 2011

Apply to Participate in BioBlitz on the American Prairie Reserve June 23-25 in Malta, Montana.

The American Prairie Foundation is accepting applications from scientific experts and citizen scientists to participate in a BioBlitz on the American Prairie Reserve, 50 miles south of Malta, June 23-25. A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of scientists and volunteers conduct an intensive biological inventory of all species in a given area, which helps increase our awareness of the diversity of life in that area.

On June 25, the event will be open to the public from noon to 3 p.m. to reveal what animals and plants were found.

For more information, visit bioblitz.americanprairie.org or email bioblitz@americanprairie.org.

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