This Week's View
by Deanna Lee Birkholm
January 24th, 1999
The Clark Fork
Archive of Ladyfisher Articles
I don't much care for Interstate Highways, but occasionally
a particular section can be really quite lovely. One of my favorite stretches of highway
is I-90 between St.Regis and Clinton Montana. The road crosses and re-crossed the
Clark Fork many times. We used to have a little travel game as to who could identify
which river crossed where, but the players could just call out "Clark Fork" on this
stretch and have it right! It's a beautiful stretch of road and designated one of the
'Scenic Highways' in Montana. The road parallels the Clark Fork river for miles.
During the warm months it is common to see a driftboat with guide and angler on the river,
and there are pull-off's where you can see the river even if you aren't going to fish it. Montana
has done a fine job for the anglers, and fishing accesses are plentiful and well marked.
During the winter, the road can be dangerous, but that has never seemed to stop Montanans
from going where they want - and if it's on that stretch of highway the 'Scenic' is still there.
If you are a Trout Unlimited member, you receive a quarterly publication from them (free) called,
Trout. In the current issue is a wonderful article about the Clark Fork. It is
rare in our world of conservation problems, this one is a success story! It took five years, and
10,000 miles on Bob Dunnagan's pick up, but Bob and his TU Chapter the Idaho Panhandle
Chapter got involved in the relicensing of two dams on the Clark Fork. The 320 miles of Clark
Fork has been a ravaged river. Problems of previous mining and smelting operations, the building
of the I-90 itself, logging on the tributaries, agricultural wastes and municipal sewage all
contributed to the problem. And then there were the dams.
Unlike so many other situations where the 'company' becomes the enemy, the company in this
case Avista Corp. (formerly Washington Water Power and owner of the dams)
contacted TU's national office and asked TU to join in a collaborative effort to basically
save the Clark Fork. It was a battle, with lots of participants - not easy in any sense of
the word. Avista also partially funded TU's participation. They put their money where
their mouth was. They all came together and got the job done!
It's a longer story than I want to detail here, (do read the article) but the whole concept
is certainly refreshing! A tip of the FAOL hat to all concerned. Avista proved
big business can be more than responsible - they can lead in conservation. That is really
If you are not receiving Trout you also missed a dandy
article on fishing the Gallatin River and Trout in the Cold!
Individual membership for residents in the US is $30.00; and just $35.00
for a family. You can even join TU online.
You may not have a local fishing or conservation group you wish to be involved with, but you
can do something to preserve the rivers we have. Join Trout Unlimited
now. ~ LadyFisher
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!
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