Spring Newsletter

The Run Of The River

May 31, 2017 Volume 2 Issue 1

Annual Meeting June 17th

Don’t forget UMOWA’s annual meeting June 17, 2017. Free barbecue and some great information on the state of the river. This is your chance to support the good work of UMOWA and have a good time, with good friends.
The Case For Flushing Flows

The Case for Flushing Flows

The history of regulated river flows goes back to the installation of Canyon Ferry Dam. Prior to that time there was no regulation of flows as both Hauser built in 1915 and Holter built in 1917 are run of the river and have no storage capacity. With the addition of Canyon Ferry the regulation of the dams was concerned primarily with flood control and electrical generation. Until the early 1980’s the releases from the dam were designed it accommodate power needs. As a result, the releases could fluctuate from day to day and hour to hour depending upon the power needs.

In the 80’s it was determined that the flows which fluctuated from hour to hour to accommodate peak power generation were detrimental to the fishery and a safety hazard. An agreement was reached that the peaking would be replaced with more constant flows and the fisheries blossomed. However, now that Montana has been experiencing low water years another problem has surfaced. The lack of high water pulses has resulted a silt buildup in the river bed and the biology of the river changed.

The silting has been thought to be part of the reason for the increase of weed beds in the river. In recent years, the weed beds have at times been so extensive that they have changed the flow of the river. Antidotal evidence indicates that the lack of flushing flows has contributed to the excess plant life. Until we are able to implement an aquatic plant study we will not be able to provide scientifically verifiable conclusions.

However, our macroinvertebrate studies have provided some good science in the bug world. Today there is a decrease in the insects that require clean gravel and those are the bugs that fly fishermen love best, mayflies and caddis flies. There is also an increase in the bugs who thrive in the silt and the weed beds such as worms, sow bugs and scuds. We believe that a return to springtime high water flushing would create a more natural state of the river and improve river health. This spring UMOWA has begun a conversation with the Bureau of Reclamation, Northwestern Energy and Mt Fish Wildlife and Parks about the possibility for providing a yearly large pulse flow to flush the Missouri River.

Stephanie Micek an engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Montana Area Reservoir Operations says that the two primary missions of the Bureau are flood control and electrical generation. Of secondary importance in their plan are recreation and fisheries. The plan is available on their website.

The primary driving force for flows is water availability. The Bureau is bound to contracts with Northwestern Energy for power generation. The Bureau also controls Clark Canyon dam but they have no control over the other upstream impoundments on the Missouri Tributaries or main stem. Flood control which is a primary springtime concern is a week to week or even day to day plan depending on snowpack, precipitation, and weather predictions. A flushing flow has not been part of their plan.

Grant Grisick with MT Fish Wildlife and Parks has been studying the long-term inflows and outflows from Canyon Ferry and believes a minimum yearly peak of 14,000cfs for 5 to 7 days would be ideal. Unfortunately, the Missouri basin has been plagued with low snowpack and dry springs in recent years. Since year 2000 only 6 years have had flows that exceeded 10,000cfs and only 3 years have exceeded 13,000cfs. However, if the Bureau would agree to hold some water with the intent of providing a flush perhaps a more consistent flush could be accomplished.

Fortunately, this year that may not be a problem and it looks like we could get the minimum flushing flow we want. As I write this the Bureau is upping the flow to 10,600cfs below Canyon Ferry which meets the minimum we consider necessary for flushing. Since it is still snowing in the high country we may get the 15,000cfs.

But future years are still a major concern. Indications are that our concerns will be noted. Time will tell if we are successful at securing the necessary flows.

Before computers, telephone lines and television connect us, we all share the same air, the same oceans, the same mountains and rivers. We are all equally responsible for protecting them. – Julia Louis-Dryfus

Guide Party

UMOWA hosted a get together for the guide and shop owners to show appreciation for their efforts on behalf of UMOWA. The Trout Shop provided the venue at their newly remodeled cafe and served the food. It was a great opportunity to get together and talk about the river. A good crowd of about 50 attended and shared their concerns and enthusiasm for the Missouri River.

In conjunction with the meeting UMOWA encouraged the guides to sign up for our Guide Ambassador program. As members of the program the guides serve as our eyes on the river to spot areas of concern that they feel UMOWA should address. They are also our first contact with their clients to inform them of the organization and our mission as well as encouraging them to join the cause. UMOWA would like to thank the following guide ambassadors for their support.

  • Michael Kuhnert Brock Long
  • Ben Hardy Mitch Lowalski
  • Brent Lobbestael Casey Phelps
  • Joe Moore Matt Mortensen
  • Stephen Caldwell Andrew Christian
  • Geoffrey Langell Taulor Todd
  • JasonLanier

With rivers as with good friends, you always feel better for a few hours in their presence;
– Nick Lyons

From the Chairman

We would like to thank all of the volunteers that have contributed to the success of UMOWA over the last year. Their help has been invaluable.

  • Joe Kirkvliet – Bank projects
  • Joel Wilson – Web Site
  • Braden Lewis – Facebook and Science
  • Cathy Fitzgerald – Data Base and Correspondence
  • Marilyn Alkire – Fundraising
  • Dave Dickman and Dwight Young – Missoula support

Thank you all,

Pete Peterson

UMOWA Annual Meeting

UMOWA will hold their 2017 annual meeting June 17.  Free food, good company, and information about the current state of the Missouri River will be provided. Once again Rocky and Chris will be Barbequing so you know the food will be good.  While we have not finalized the program yet you know that we will be providing some important information on the current state of the Missouri.

This year we will also be adding an auction so you will have a chance to buy some art or maybe a guided trip.  Who knows what surprises we will come up with for the auction.

Mark the date on your calendar.  Don’t miss the chance for good times, and good food, with good friends not to mention a chance to show your support for a good cause.  See you there.

2016 Smith River study available

UMOWA thanks Dave Stagliano for getting us the final report for our first year of baseline studies on the Smith River. A quick read of the Executive Summary will give you feel for what is happening there, not all of which is good. We will repeat this study in 2017 so stay tuned to UMOWA.org.


Or download the article here.

There is an addendum for the Smith River Study, available here:



Or download the addendum here.

UMOWA Spring Newsletter

Annual Member’s Meeting Set

Missouri RiverUMOWA has set the date and program for the annual member’s meeting. The gathering will be April 29th at the Craig Fire Department meeting hall. Barbecue and social hour will start at 6:00. The program will follow starting at 7:00.

We thank Rocky Harbor of the Dearborn ranch for agreeing to provide the barbecue.  The valley residents who have had the opportunity to take part in one of Rocky’s barbecue will vouch that this will be an occasion not to be missed.

On the program for the meeting will be David Stagliano who conducted UMOWA’s macroinvertabrate study on the Missouri in 2015. He will give a rundown on how the study was conducted and what conclusions can be drawn from the data that was collected. He will be open for any questions you may have concerning the study. If you have not had a chance to read the study it is available on UMOWA’s website

Craig McLane, MT Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) biologist for the aquatic invasive species program, will speak about their efforts to halt the spread of invasive species. This is of special interest as they will be coordinating with UMOWA in our ef

forts to initiate a study this summer to establish aquatic plant baseline data.

Also on the agenda will be an as yet to ba announced speaker from Mt Department of Environmental Quality. UMOWA with the aid of DEQ we will embarked on an extensive water quality sampling program for 2016. The focus of the project will be to fill in the gaps left by previous sampling  by both private and government entities in the past. We anticipated that this will take place on the Smith river as well as the main stem of the Missouri. DEQ will help in coordinating the efforts.

To conclude the program Eric Roberts and Jason Mullen from MT FWP will present the results of the annual fish counts for the Missouri’s Wolf Creek to Cascade reach and Canyon

Ferry. This is always a highlight as we all want to know what to expect from the river for the next season.

The meeting will also be your opportunity to show your support for UMOWA by signing up as a volunteer for the coming season. As always we would like to encourage you to renew your membership or to sign on as a member if you have not already done so. With the continuation and expansion of the aquatic studies, it is imperative that you lend a hand to fund this critical work. You will be protecting one of Montana’s most precious resources, not only for yourself, but for future generations that deserve to inherit this irreplaceable resource.


The good life on any river may…depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive.-

Aldo Leopold

From the Chairman

A Missouri 2fer

A Missouri 2fer

UMOWA thanks the donors and members who have made 2015 a success. Without you we are nothing. With you we have gone further than any of us thought possible in 2 short years. As we move forward I would like to welcome the new board members, Alan Shaw, Bill Ryan, and Garrett Munson, three people that will make our organization stronger. We also thank outgoing chairman Pete Cardinal for all of the hard work in getting this organization off the ground.

With the help from all our members and volunteers we expect next year to be more productive that 2015. We will keep in touch.

Pete Peterson

Board Chairman

Projects for 2016

For the summer of 2016 UMOWA will expand the macroinvertabrate study that was successful on the Missouri to include the Smith River. David Stagliano will continue to provide the scientific expertise for both rivers. The second year of data for the Missouri should start to provide a clearer picture of what is happening to the insect populations on both of the rivers.

In addition to the insect study UMOWA will conduct extensive water quality sampling on both the Smith and the main stem of the Missouri to establish baseline data. MT DEQ, and Montana State University have committed to providing guidance to ensure that the data will be scientifically valid. They will provide the sampling expertise and UMOWA will provide for the sample analysis and compilation of the data.

A critical piece in understanding the health of the Missouri River is an assessment of the aquatic plant life. UMOWA is planning to initiate a study for the Missouri to identify both the native and invasive species of flora in the reach of river between the Holter Dam and Cascade. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks  and Montana Natural Heritage Program have agreed to provide technical assistant and assist with the training of volunteer samplers. If you are interested in being a volunteer sampler send us an email.

Tintina Resources has proposed a copper mining operation on the upper Smith drainage. As the permit works it’s way through the process it is evident there is no time to waste in gathering the baseline data for this important Missouri River tributary. Tintina has assured Montana that they will not cause any adverse impact on the environment of this watershed. However, the legacy of mining in Montana has left a negative impact on nearly every corner of Montana. It is critical that we establish baseline data for the Smith drainage in case any damage takes place.

To accomplish these goals we will need your help. Please consider a donation to UMOWA in 2016. If you would like to contribute you can do so on our website www.UMOWA.org.

A Special Thanks

UMOWA would like to thank the following volunteers for their time donated to the organization

Joel Wilson – Website updates

Braden Lewis – Sampling

John Kernaghan – Planning

Cathy Fitzgerald – Data administration

and all of the people who have taken the time to advise us as we embark on our projects


Major Donors
$3000 or more $1000 to $3000 $100 to $1000
Orvis Company Chris Hohenlohe Tim Linehan
Mark LeGrand RJ Anderson
M. Mickelson Jim Greene
Harry Poett Linda and bill Musser
Evolution Fly Fishing Don Vierra
Headhunters Fly Shop Laurens Leffingwell
Missouri River Trout Shop Dan Green
John Kowalski
Sherry and David Meador
David Myers
Lee Rade
Dennis Reimer
Bailey Sory
Margeret Taylor
Bobbie Boyer
Joe Kerkvliet
Big Sky Anglers
Gary Peterson
Marty Knibbs
Tim Bartz
TW Bramble
Roger Ecker
Michael Enk
Daren Erickson
Chris Hildreth
Douglas Lange
Craig McCoy
Jon Moe
Peter Pierce
Peter Skidmore
James Standaert
Business Donors
Brandon Boedecker Montana Biological Survey The Orvis Company
Bryan Thies Cross Currents Fly Shop Evolution Fly Fishing
Peter Vandergrift Uncle Joe’s Bar Headhunters Fly Shop
End of the Line Lodge Oasis Bar and Grill Missouri River Trout Shop
First Cast Outfitters Pete Cardinal Outfitters Simms
Izaaks The Frenchman And Me Big Sky Anglers
Missouri River House Missouri River Ranch Little Blacksmith Ranch
Montana Fishing Outfitters Montana Trout Stalkers, Inc Montana Fishing Guides LLC
Mt City Plumbing & Heating
BY Laws

Board Members and Committee’s Set

We have a Board and original Committee members assigned for the 2014 year! We also have by-laws posted. TH next item is the filing and process of the 501c3 designation. That will take some time. Possibly up to one year but we are hopeful that a miracle happens and we gain the status before the 2014 year ends.

The next big event is the Craig Caddis Festival where you will see a membership desk. Join Saturday May 17th in Craig Montana. See your UMOWA membership go towards the conservation of this amazing Upper Missouri Watershed! Just $25!


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