On Sunday, August 15, during the annual Hooked on the Gallatin fundraiser, the Gallatin River Task Force raised over $200,000 for river restoration and water conservation projects on the upper Gallatin River. This was the largest amount ever raised in one event to protect the Gallatin River.
“Drought conditions have plagued southwest Montana and our beloved Gallatin this summer, and we are grateful for the community focus on and support of clean water in our community,” said Ryan Newcomb, Managing Director for the Task Force. “These funds will be vital for launching and continuing a variety of projects focused on conserving our precious water resources while improving water quality.”
Projects include restoration along the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River to address water pollution and ensure water availability as well as the production and implementation of a local drought management plan. The funds will help the Task Force to take steps to reduce algae in the river, and further river restoration projects that will protect the Gallatin.
“We know this will not be last summer like this as local climate change impacts are expected to induce earlier snowmelt with extended periods of drought,” said Kristin Gardner, Chief Executive and Science Officer for the Task Force. “An early snowmelt followed by a summer drought and increased water use has left the river running far below average. If trends continue, we will start to see long-term negative impacts to aquatic wildlife like trout and the insects they feed on. With these projects, we plan to build resiliency into what has always been a fragile headwaters ecosystem.”
Presently, Gallatin County is experiencing Exceptional Drought Conditions, according to all national and local indicators—a step beyond extreme. Almost everyone locally is being affected by the drought and low river flows. “Water conservation is the responsibility of all of us,” says Emily O’Connor, Conservation Director for the Task Force. “If we wish to continue living in this special place, we will have to commit to conservation on a community-wide scale and adopt trout friendly and water wise solutions for clean, cold water flowing in our streams and faucets in the future. This event takes us a step further towards that goal.”