Watershed Management Tools: Hazardous Site Case History, Reference Stream Analysis, and GIS Analysis of Fire Risk
My portfolio explores some tools that are used to protect or assess watershed health and the experiences and lessons I learned during my time in the Environmental Studies program. The first piece in my portfolio is a case study that looks at the history of pollution ad cleanup of the kraft pulp mill along the Clark Fork River. In my study, I look closely at the EPA’s investigation of the site and the community’s reaction to the findings. In my second piece, I describe my field and lab experience working for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. During this time, I was part of a team that characterized Montana’s least impacted streams, giving me insight into a process that helps inform water quality standards. For my last piece I analyzed the ignition and spread risks of fire around Lolo Peak using geographic data analyzed in ArcGIS. I also used this data to assess possible watershed impacts from the 2017 Lolo Peak Fire.
The central theme of my four portfolio pieces is restoring watersheds and building watershed communities. Each component of my portfolio approaches this theme differently. Using a broad approach allowed me to explore the various ways communities, watersheds, and restoration can intersect. My first portfolio piece analyzes cost-effectiveness of low-technology erosion control structures. These were used as part of a project to restore California Gulch, near Anaconda, MT. The second piece begins with a legislative history of exempt well policy in Montana. It goes on to study the collaborative processes used in developing an exempt well bill in the 2017 legislature, then makes recommendations for future collaborative efforts in a memorandum to the Water Policy Interim Committee’s chair. The third piece is an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on the Big Hole watershed. Through service-learning, 8th-11th grade students learn about the area before participating in a local restoration project. The fourth piece contains two documents relating to work I have done in the field of watershed restoration, and building watershed communities. The first is a reflection from my summer working in the field for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality on the Stream Reference Project. The second is a memorandum to the executive director of the Montana Watershed Coordination Council, summarizing the findings of a survey I developed and sent out to MWCC’s membership.
The central theme carried among my four portfolio pieces is: using scientific and governmental approaches to conserve watershed health. For the purposes of this portfolio, I define watershed health as a very general term that describes the state of water quantity and quality that is available for human and ecosystem needs in a watershed. I see each of my portfolio pieces focusing on a different scale and method (i.e., science or government, including different levels of government, local, state and federal) for conserving watershed health. My first portfolio piece reviews water quality degradation caused by pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and potential solutions at the municipal level, such as mycoremediation. The second portfolio component addresses water quantity through assessing city-wide water conservation programs. Ultimately, I made several recommendations to Missoula city officials. My third portfolio piece describes my experience working in the field and laboratory for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. This component of my portfolio identifies one of the ways the State of Montana has approached protecting watershed health. My final portfolio piece reflects on my internship with American Rivers, where I investigated how to use Wild and Scenic Rivers designation to protect rivers from select mining activities.
The following portfolio describes three distinct, yet not mutually exclusive, approaches for managing water and other resources. A common theme throughout the three approaches is that they “lay the foundation” for future management, and each piece depicts a different approach to natural resource management planning. Part One is the final report for a research and planning contract for Lolo Watershed Group. Watershed science and restoration field techniques are used to inform and develop a scope of work document for Montana Department of Environmental Quality for a future revegetation restoration project on Lolo Creek. Part Two describes some of the co-facilitation work and research that I completed in order to earn my certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution from the Natural Resources and Conservation Department at the University of Montana. Both Part2A and 2B demonstrates how collaborative processes increase the capacity for information sharing and consequently improve natural resource management. Part Three is a final report to Trout Unlimited from an internship working to develop options for a drought plan in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin.