Clark Fork River Restoration & Access Project

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Overview

Humans have been using and enjoying the Clark Fork River for thousands of years. Native Americans relied on the river for transportation and food, especially for its unique abundance of Bull Trout. For most of the 19th and 20 centuries, the Clark Fork was a working river, supporting industry, transportation, agriculture, and mining, all of which left their mark on the river. As recently as the 1960s and 70s, the Clark Fork ran red with mining waste, even in Missoula, nearly 100 miles downstream of the mines in Butte. But times have changed. With the removal of Milltown Dam, cleanup of mining wastes, and dramatic improvements in water quality, the Clark Fork has undergone a renaissance. After many years of neglecting the Clark Fork, Missoula has turned to face the river, which to residents and visitors alike is now considered one of our community’s greatest assets.

Out of the city’s newfound love of the river, a new potential threat has emerged. A dramatic increase in recreational use of the river, particularly through the urban stretch in Missoula, has created significant erosion problems. Boaters, tubers, fishermen, bathers, and people just wanting to get close to the water have worn in a network of informal user trails along the banks of the river. These trails have damaged riparian vegetation and caused erosion that is degrading water quality and threatens the stability of paved trails and other infrastructure near the river.

The Clark Fork River Restoration and Access Project addresses the need for better, more sustainable user access to the river and seeks to balance river recreation with river ecosystem health and restoration. The project area includes specific sites along the north and south banks of the Clark Fork River for the 4 mile stretch of river in Missoula, between Riverside Park just west of Russell Street and Ben Hughes park in East Missoula.


Project Goals

  1. Inventory and monitor riverbank erosion and identify user-made access points along the river.
  2. Create/affirm site selection criteria for riverbank restoration and/or access enhancements.
  3. Design and construct an intuitive system of walk-in river access points for a variety of recreational users to encourage responsible recreation and promote the health and aesthetics of the Clark Fork River.
  4. Design and implement a restoration program to sustainably restore impacted riverbank locations throughout the project area, and potentially beyond.


Public Engagement

This project builds upon years of research and planning including river user surveys, ecological monitoring and inventory, preliminary restoration and access site selection criteria, and design concepts. Please take a moment to review the documents from this extensive process and take the 5-minute survey below. Your feedback will help guide the project and play a major part in its success.

Overview

Humans have been using and enjoying the Clark Fork River for thousands of years. Native Americans relied on the river for transportation and food, especially for its unique abundance of Bull Trout. For most of the 19th and 20 centuries, the Clark Fork was a working river, supporting industry, transportation, agriculture, and mining, all of which left their mark on the river. As recently as the 1960s and 70s, the Clark Fork ran red with mining waste, even in Missoula, nearly 100 miles downstream of the mines in Butte. But times have changed. With the removal of Milltown Dam, cleanup of mining wastes, and dramatic improvements in water quality, the Clark Fork has undergone a renaissance. After many years of neglecting the Clark Fork, Missoula has turned to face the river, which to residents and visitors alike is now considered one of our community’s greatest assets.

Out of the city’s newfound love of the river, a new potential threat has emerged. A dramatic increase in recreational use of the river, particularly through the urban stretch in Missoula, has created significant erosion problems. Boaters, tubers, fishermen, bathers, and people just wanting to get close to the water have worn in a network of informal user trails along the banks of the river. These trails have damaged riparian vegetation and caused erosion that is degrading water quality and threatens the stability of paved trails and other infrastructure near the river.

The Clark Fork River Restoration and Access Project addresses the need for better, more sustainable user access to the river and seeks to balance river recreation with river ecosystem health and restoration. The project area includes specific sites along the north and south banks of the Clark Fork River for the 4 mile stretch of river in Missoula, between Riverside Park just west of Russell Street and Ben Hughes park in East Missoula.


Project Goals

  1. Inventory and monitor riverbank erosion and identify user-made access points along the river.
  2. Create/affirm site selection criteria for riverbank restoration and/or access enhancements.
  3. Design and construct an intuitive system of walk-in river access points for a variety of recreational users to encourage responsible recreation and promote the health and aesthetics of the Clark Fork River.
  4. Design and implement a restoration program to sustainably restore impacted riverbank locations throughout the project area, and potentially beyond.


Public Engagement

This project builds upon years of research and planning including river user surveys, ecological monitoring and inventory, preliminary restoration and access site selection criteria, and design concepts. Please take a moment to review the documents from this extensive process and take the 5-minute survey below. Your feedback will help guide the project and play a major part in its success.

Page last updated: 14 September 2021, 14:31