We all live in a watershed. Learn about the rich wilderness, vibrant cities, and pristine waterbodies that make up the watersheds of western Montana!
Montana is rich in pristine natural resources, from stunning valleys, lush forests, and glaciated mountain peaks to miles of rolling prairies and sagebrush fields brimming with wildlife. However, in western Montana, water is perhaps the most vital and valuable natural resource.
Western Montana is part of the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin. Smaller watersheds drain the landscapes of western Montana, including the Kootenai, Flathead, Blackfoot, Clark Fork, and Bitterroot watersheds. The rivers, streams, and creeks of these basins flow west to the Columbia River which eventually drains into the Pacific Ocean.
Flowing over borders, across state boundaries, and transcending human-made divides, the water’s current bonds mountaintops to riverbeds, connects cities upstream with communities downstream, and provides the link between our generation and all generations to come.
The vitality of western Montana not only relies on water but on clean, cold, high-quality water. Our many rivers and streams recharge groundwater and create floodplain areas, riparian corridors, and wetlands that sustain water quality throughout the watershed. These natural systems filter nutrients, trap sediments, reduce flooding, and stabilize soils. Together, these functions sustain our rapidly growing population, our wildlife and fisheries, and our timber, agriculture, and tourism industries.