welcome to your watershed
What is a Watershed?
A watershed is where water collects and drains to creeks and rivers. All the water that we encounter is part of our local watershed - affected by all the activities that take place. The hills and mountains create the boundaries between watersheds.
Missoula is in the Clark Fork watershed, which begins where the snow melts and feeds into places like Rattlesnake Creek, which flow into the Clark Fork River.
The Clark Fork River empties into Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho and from there the water enters The Pend Oreille River which then flows into the Columbia River. So, Rattlesnake Creek, the Clark Fork River and the Pend Oreille River watersheds all are part of the larger Columbia River watershed.
The 5 C's of a healthy watershed
Missoula is in a special position at the intersection of urban, agricultural, and wilderness areas. This means we benefit from community events and development, local agricultural producers, and easy access to nearby recreation and public lands! It also presents challenges like interactions with wildlife, runoff from farms, lawns, and roads reaching our waterways, and recreational stress on open spaces and river access points.
To keep the outdoors safe and sustainable for all to use, follow these responsible practices:
stay on the trail
Creating your own trails or walking on the side of existing trails causes erosion. This may add sediment to the stream and damage streamside vegetation and habitat.
Leash your dog and scoop the poop
Off-leash dogs contribute to erosion, damage redds, poop where you don't see, and intimidate other recreationists and animals. Dog poop can introduce bacteria or parasites to other animals and pollute storm water runoff that ends up in streams and rivers.
clean, drain, dry
Check your boats and watercraft at all road stations and in between bodies of water to prevent spreading invasive species.
do not obstruct water flow
Pools of water warm up quickly, stressing aquatic animals. Disturbing the creek bed also disrupts redds (fish egg nests) in spawning season.