What We Do

The past 35 years have brought unprecedented changes to the Missouri River. Chiefly among these changes has been a dramatic alteration of insect and plant life as well as the immediate threat of invasive species introduction. UMOWA is committed to documenting and mitigating these changes to create a healthier river system.


We commission professional, independent, science-based studies of river health indicators to establish baseline data and monitor trends.


We cultivate collaboration and support for evidence-based management practices and policies among the multiple stakeholders. (e.g., flushing flows.)


We support on-the-ground projects that protect, enhance, and restore valuable river resources (e.g., .streambank restoration, boat wash stations.)

Scientific Studies & Monitoring

Our Commitment to Monitoring Water Quality

The Upper Missouri Watershed Alliance has undertaken water quality studies in the main stem of the upper Missouri river since 2015. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MT DEQ) has supported these studies through a grant each year. We are definitely concerned about the significant increase in two important nutrients in 2017; nitrogen and phosphorous when compared to the 2016 study. We intend to expand our studies and determine the trend of this increase as well as the potential impact on the river.

Macroinvertebrate Studies

We have completed three consecutive years of scientific studies to determine the health and presence of the macroinvertebrate population of the upper Missouri river from Holter dam to Cascade as well as selected sites on the Smith river. David Stagliano has conducted these studies in a scientifically professional manner. This has enabled UMOWA to use these studies for presentations to state and federal agencies in order to impress upon them the state of this bug life and its impact on the fishery.

Concern About Excessive Aquatic Plant Growth in The Missouri River

There has long been concern regarding the excessive, heavy aquatic plant growth in the Missouri river, especially in the late summer and fall. UMOWA is planning to initiate an extensive, scientifically sound analysis of this phenomenon by hiring a professional plant researcher to design and implement the study. Water quality studies in 2017 revealed an increase in levels of nitrogen and phosphorous compared to 2016. We suspect that these elevated nutrient levels may be contributing to plant growth. As many of you have experienced, the plant growth can be so profuse in sections of the river so as to prohibit fishing in those area. UMOWA is committed to working on this issue and we will keep you posted as the project develops.


Coming Soon

Aquatic plant studies are in the works. Check back for results.

Flushing Flows

Our macroinvertebrate studies support clear evidence that the insect hatches on the upper Missouri have changed and dramatically diminished over the last few years. Both the caddis fly and mayfly populations have been significantly impacted. We have determined the most likely cause for this phenomenon is a lack of high water flushing flows in the spring/summer. This has allowed excessive weed growth and increased siltation of the riverbed gravel necessary for the successful reproduction of these insects. In response to the problem, UMOWA has organized meetings with the Bureau of Reclamation which controls outflows from the Canyon Ferry reservoir as well as Northwestern Energy, which operate both Holter and Hauser dams. Our hope is that our negotiations will result in planned, periodic flushing flows of the river.

Current Missouri River Flow Data -->

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Streambank Restoration 

UMOWA is working with local landowners, private businesses, and public agencies to stabilize the river banks along the Missouri River. Bank stabilization will decrease erosion and the building up of sediments downriver. By encouraging the growth of woody plants and roots, and by narrowing the access points used by animals to access the water, UMOWA seeks to improve the environmental health of the river for the long term.

Boat Wash Stations


This last summer, MT FWP discovered the first invasive quagga mussels in Montana. UMOWA has begun a response to the crisis with a plan to install the first boat wash station in the region in Craig. The wash station will be in the Trout Shop parking lot and is will be operational in the summer of 2018. We will develop an educational program to inform river users about the importance of proper cleaning of their boats to prevent the spread of invasive species.

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