Freshwater Conservation

Our Most Precious Resource

Water is the key to life, and right now Montana is at a critical juncture. Nature and people both depend on free-flowing, clean water to survive, and at this moment, the water we depend on needs our help.

Here and across the country, the demand for fresh water is exceeding the supply. Climate change and unprecedented drought are already causing detrimental impacts to our critical water resources and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them. With the additional stress of earlier snowmelt and unpredictable rain patterns, water is growing more and more scarce.

Free-flowing streams of cold, clean water are essential to our communities, providing drought and flood resilience, and are critical aquatic and wetland habitats vital to fish, wildlife and their migration corridors.

Conserving Water with Science and Partnerships

The Nature Conservancy in Montana is dedicated to protecting our watersheds and transforming the way we manage limited water supply. Because only a basin-wide approach can provide the water conservation effects needed to adequately improve water flow, we are collaborating with key partners in the Missouri Headwaters, including landowners, state agencies, federal agencies, and local watershed organizations to achieve measurable goals.

On the Yellowstone River, we are securing channel migration easements that prohibit obstacles that impede the river's natural meanders and seasonal flood cycles—freeing the river to move like a river.

The Conservancy and its partners are currently working across the upper Missouri River Basin to restore and maintain natural flows to our waterways using science-based plans for on-the-ground work, including:

  • Constructing beaver mimicry structures in the face of climate change
  • Replanting native streamside vegetation and changing livestock management to restore floodplain resilience
  • Upgrading culverts, bridges to improve connectivity and stream function
  • Improving irrigation infrastructure to manage water more carefully
  • Removing encroaching conifers from wetlands to improve water storage

Through rigorous testing and positive, productive partnerships, we aim to expand the reach of our freshwater strategies, evaluating their viability for success in other whole systems in Montana.

How Can You Help?

Contribute your enthusiasm for nature in Montana by making a monthly gift to protect local watersheds.


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