River Smart Missoula

What's harming the Clark Fork?

‚ÄčTrash and broken glass not only hurts the river but poses a threat to human and animal safety too. Trash in the river pollutes important habitat for fish and other wildlife. Broken glass is dangerous for people and pets walking along the river trail as well as other animals getting in and out of the river.

Erosion along the riverbank not only harms water quality, but also creates problems for streamside infrastructure. When we walk off the path and cut new paths down to the river, these paths cut into the banks, allowing soil to be removed and washed into the river. Increased sediment into the river reduces water clarity and harms water quality needed for aquatic species to thrive. Cutting banks also threaten the safety and stability of our streamside infrastructure, like the river trail and bridges that we rely on to access and enjoy the river.

Loss of streamside vegetation increases the threat of erosion and reduces available habitat and food for wildlife. Streamside vegetation is very important to holding the streambank in place, ensuring it does not break way, recede and slump into the river. When plants are trampled and die, they are unable to serve that stabilizing function, which results in the loss of that streambank to the river and undercutting of that bank to streamside development. Furthermore, animals that rely on streamside vegetation for habitat and food, struggle to survive.