Gallatin River Task Force

The Gallatin River Task Force is driven by one simple ambition…to make sure the Gallatin River flows with clean, cold, abundant water. Now and forever.

aka Blue Water Task Force   |   Big Sky, MT   |  www.gallatinrivertaskforce.org

Mission

Partner with our greater community to lead conservation and inspire stewardship of the Gallatin River Watershed.

Ruling year info

2005

Executive Director

Dr. Kristin Gardner

Director of Development

Ryan M. Newcomb

Main address

32 Market Place UNIT 6-160513

Big Sky, MT 59716 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

BLUE WATER TASK FORCE

EIN

74-3127146

NTEE code info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Energy Resources Conservation and Development (C35)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Gallatin River is approaching a crisis point. Algae blooms are an annual threat; climate change is here, driving more intense drought; and population growth is pushing our natural resources to the brink. With this urgency in mind, what steps must we take as a community to protect the river that we love? That is the question that the Gallatin River Task Force set out to answer, and this strategic plan is our blueprint for success. To ensure that water quality and quantity in the Gallatin improves, science must dictate our actions. Through continued monitoring and analysis, we have prioritized projects with the highest impact. In order to undo the wrongs of the past and plan for the future, we as a community must commit to a culture of conservation. We are privileged to live in this special place, and we cannot take its beauty for granted. We can and must become a model for headwaters communities across the country.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Watershed Monitoring & Water Conservation

Our monitoring program encompasses community water quality monitoring and an Upper Gallatin watershed restoration plan. Our programs routinely measure water quality health to assess and track the health of the Upper Gallatin River and its tributaries. We have been collecting water data since 2000 throughout our greater community, and it is all available on our website. The Water Quality Monitoring program includes macro-invertebrate (insect) sampling at key sites, pebble count and fine sediment assessment at all sites, and continuous streamflow data at four of the sampling sites. Our restoration plan was completed in 2012 to build a blueprint to improve water quality and habitat conditions in the Upper Gallatin River watershed.

Big Sky Water Conservation is one of only two municipal water conservation program in Montana. Fresh, clean water is a limited resource and the amount of water each of us uses every day impacts our neighbors, local fisheries and wildlife, and downstream users. Through our program, we aim to reduce current water use and plan for a more efficient future use by incentivizing and awarding our community’s participation in efforts that prioritize water conservation.

Big Sky Water Conservation is one of only two programs in Montana that seeks to inspire community members to engage in practices that save water, both at home and work. By partnering with major water managers, homeowners’ associations, property managers, developers, and other influential organizations, the Gallatin River Task Force is promoting water conservation in Big Sky. Through the Big Sky Water Conservation, we offer rebates to residents who have installed water-efficient, WaterSense-labeled fixtures at their homes. Anyone living in the Big Sky Resort Area Tax District can apply for the Indoor and Outdoor Rebate Programs.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Community Education & Outreach program provides important water resource information to the residents and visitors of Big Sky.

For years, the Task Force has partnered with Ophir Elementary educators to inspire the next generation of river stewards. Our education programs include raising trout from egg to fingerling in the classroom and monitoring water quality with students in nearby rivers and streams. In recent years, we have expanded our watershed awareness programs for professionals. Recent examples include storm water management during construction, realtor continuing education, and watershed restoration for water resource professionals.

Small, simple behavior changes have huge impacts on water quality. The Task Force educates our greater community on properly maintaining septic systems, landscaping with the river in mind, and cleaning boats or waders after each use will protect the Gallatin from excess nutrients, harmful chemicals, and aquatic invasive species. We provide educational resources to help citizens learn how to lead a trout-friendly life.

The Task Force and Big Sky Community Organization started a youth fly fishing camp to provide an affordable opportunity for Big Sky locals and visitors to learn to fly fish. The mission of the Hooked on the Gallatin: Youth Fly Fishing Camp is to inspire a lifelong passion for fly fishing and river conservation.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Task Force has taken on two major restoration projects: the West Fork Nitrogen Reduction project and the Gallatin River Habitat and Public Access Improvement project. The West Fork Nitrogen Reduction project is a partnership with the Big Sky Golf Course, the Gallatin River Task Force, the Big Sky Water & Sewer District, Montana DEQ, and Big Sky Resort Tax.

The Gallatin River Task Force and the Custer Gallatin National Forest have a long-term partnership to restore streambanks and improve river access in Gallatin Canyon. The first project at the Moose Creek Flat Campground, north of Big Sky along the Gallatin, will help minimize the harmful effects of loving a river too much. We have initiated a plan to stabilize the stream banks and vegetation at this very popular site by creating access points that include a boat ramp, kayak launch, and trails, resulting in a future of improved water quality and fish habitat. This project will be followed by work at Deer Creek, Baetis Alley, and Doe Creek.

River Conservation & Improved Access
Gallatin Canyon offers some of the best river access in the country. In an effort to enhance that access while improving eroded streambanks, the Task Force partnered with Custer Gallatin National Forest to lead restoration efforts at Moose Creek. We designed and vastly improved the river access point, providing the financing, engineering plans, construction oversight, and volunteer labor. The result is:
a permanent structure for boats and kayaks;
a restored streambank that had been eroded from overuse;
an enhanced and protected riparian area;
and a new template for safeguarding other river access points on the Gallatin and across the Upper Missouri Headwaters.

Moose Creek now stands as a model for future improvement projects. We are thrilled to continue work with the Forest Service using Gallatin River Forever funds on the Upper Deep Creek and Porcupine/Beaver Creek access areas.

This summer, the Task Force is gearing up to implement, construct and replicate the Moose Creek Access model at Upper Deer Creek. This will entail restoring nearly one mile of illegal road into trail features with education signage and native vegetation and plantings; building parking areas for recreation and access; and installing a trail system to access the river and fishing points. Our plan will also build a sustainable access point for rafts, kayaks, and anglers, and also funds another USGS gauge station for greater water monitoring.

This entails extensive riparian restoration to improve streamside shading and rebuild large areas of streambank degradation to stabilize stream water temperatures and improve in-stream habitat for fish and aquatic life. We anticipate that the construction to finish this fall. In the spring of 2021, final planting on site will happen to complete this second of two major projects.

We will continue this model throughout the Gallatin Watershed to streamline access in a sustainable way and benefit our waters, fish, and recreational experiences---in areas of great need such as Porcupine and Beaver Creek..

Population(s) Served
Adults

The Task Force is working closely with developers, planning and zoning committees, and the local Wastewater Solutions Forum to ensure the health of the Gallatin River, and the impacts that development has on it, are taken into consideration as the area grows.

We especially take pride in partnering with our community for the common good of a pristine Gallatin River. We prefer action over rhetoric, which can be found in some of our most recent projects. Our projects include restoring streamside vegetation along the Big Sky Golf Course, hosting a water management forum to collaboratively plan for growth and development in Big Sky, and improving recreational access in Gallatin Canyon.

Led by the Gallatin River Task Force, The Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum is a group of diverse watershed stakeholders working collaboratively to identify and solve water resource issues in the Upper Gallatin Watershed in the areas of ecological health of the river systems, water supply and availability, and wastewater treatment and reuse.

Goals
Ecological Health of the Rivers: A healthy and resilient river system sustained through a principled approach to watershed stewardship that includes human activities and natural processes that maintain and enhance stream, riparian and wetland conditions and connections, ensuring water remains clean and cold.
Water Supply and Availability: Manage and balance surface and groundwater supplies for a vibrant community sustaining a broad spectrum of uses and values including fisheries, wildlife, recreation, agriculture, municipal, and domestic needs.
Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: Develop and implement holistic wastewater and stormwater management, utilizing best available technologies and practices, to meet Big Sky’s long-term community needs and protect and improve the ecological health of the river systems.
Big Sky Area Sustainable Watershed Stewardship Plan
The final stewardship plan provides information about the recommendations, goals, priorities, and actions that the Big Sky Sustainable Water Solutions Forum stakeholders identified to address community water resources issues. It also provides information about water resources and the alternatives discussed and analyzed.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of river miles being monitored

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Watershed Monitoring & Water Conservation

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The Task Force monitors water quality on the mainstem of the Gallatin River and its tributaries, ranging from Yellowstone National Park to the Spanish Creek confluence.

Number of stakeholders or stakeholder groups who agree to engage

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Responsible Growth & Sustainable Development

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Headwaters Alliance Partners and Stakeholders

Number of new champions or stakeholders recruited

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Conservation is a value in and of itself. As conservationists, we can set an example of how to live in better harmony with nature, not to restrict or impair, but rather to give and preserve. At the Gallatin River Task Force, it is our goal to give the gift of the Gallatin to future generations. Driving that goal are a set of values upon which we base our work. In addition to our own organizational values, the Task Force adheres to the Watershed
Approach to conservation. We believe that taken together, these ethics will produce lasting, long-term solutions to the challenges facing the Gallatin River Watershed. THE TASK FORCE VALUES: Scientific Credibility: We are guided by science and best practices. Collaboration: We value partnerships in our work on water issues. Watershed Integrity: We work to ensure the integrity of a healthy river through protection and restoration. Conservation: We promote sustainable management of our water resources. Education: We believe in the power of education
and engagement to build river stewardship.

THE WATERSHED APPROACH: IS TIED TO A DISTINCT LAND AREA OR HYDROLOGIC BOUNDARY,
ENSURES BROAD STAKEHOLDER, INVOLVEMENT AND INCLUSIVITY IS COMMUNITY-BASED AND
COMMUNITY-DRIVEN, RELIES ON LOCAL LEADERSHIP, ENCOURAGES COLLABORATION WITH PARTNERS,
STRIVES FOR CONSENSUS, SEEKS TO AVOID LITIGATION AS A CONSERVATION STRATEGY

GUIDED BY SCIENCE: AS IT HAS SINCE OUR FOUNDING, DATA WILL CONTINUE TO DRIVE OUR WORK, HELPING US: PLAN FOR THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, MITIGATE NUISANCE ALGAE GROWTH, IMPROVE WATER QUALITY & CONSERVE WATER SUPPLY, RESTORE DEGRADED HABITAT AND MONITOR EVOLVING CONDITIONS

Our success is contingent on expanding our monitoring network to reveal unfavorable conditions and how we can improve them.

INSPIRED BY NATURE - DECADES OF DISTURBANCE HAVE LEFT OUR WATERWAYS FLOODED WITH POLLUTANTS.
BY ADOPTING A RESTORE, REDUCE, AND REUSE ETHIC, WE WILL IMPROVE WATER QUALITY AND QUANTITY IN THE GALLATIN RIVER TRIBUTARIES BY: SUSTAINABLY MANAGING RIVER-BASED RECREATION BY COMPLETING 100
RESTORATION PROJECTS OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS IN THE GALLATIN CORRIDOR; RESTORING THE WEST FORK, SOUTH FORK, AND MIDDLE FORK TO STATE WATER QUALITY STANDARDS; EXPANDING WASTEWATER REUSE AND
RECYCLING OPTIONS THAT BENEFIT THE GALLATIN; UPGRADING WASTEWATER TREATMENT IN GALLATIN CANYON AND OTHER AREAS ON SEPTIC SYSTEMS; REDUCING CONSUMPTIVE WATER USE BY 33 MILLION GALLONS BY 2025
AND DECREASING STORMWATER RUNOFF THROUGH IMPROVED LAND MANAGEMENT POLICIES AND INCREASED
COMMUNITY EDUCATION

Because the Gallatin is such a special place, we must take every consideration to live sustainably in this headwaters ecosystem. DEVELOP AN ADVOCACY PLATFORM TO TAKE ACTION FOR THE RIVER, CREATE AN AMBASSADOR
NETWORK TO AMPLIFY OUR CONSERVATION MESSAGE, CREATE AND DISTRIBUTE INSPIRING COMMUNICATIONS AND CONNECT PEOPLE TO THE GALLATIN THROUGH HOSTED OUTREACH ACTIVITIES.

The Task Force is committed to leading. MORE GOALS ARE DETAILED IN REPORT...

1) Watershed Monitoring: Keep up to date and collaborate on other water research/data collection that is occurring in the Upper Gallatin Watershed. Develop and disseminate an annual water report assessing water data collected over the year and comparing the data to historical data.

2) Conservation: Build diverse partnerships to develop restoration projects with common goals. Facilitate on the ground restoration projects guided by sound science. Host an annual river clean ups in the Upper Gallatin. Partner with Montanans for Healthy Rivers to promote the designation of the Upper Gallatin River, Taylor Fork, and Porcupine Creek as Wild and Scenic.

3) Community Partnerships: Build diverse partnerships with watershed stakeholders. Work with partners to develop growth strategies that protect water quality and quantity. Facilitate water management/drought resiliency planning for the Big Sky Community. Actively participate in the Big Sky Conservation Partnership and Big Sky Natural Resource Council.

4) Education and Outreach: Work with local teachers to develop and implement curriculum on watershed science. Build community participation in Task Force events (monitoring, fly fishing festival, river clean up). Host booth at the Big Sky Farmer's market. Develop and facilitate two or more educational workshops annually on watershed topics as the needs arise. Develop informational brochures on watershed-wise land management to be distributed to new homeowners and renters. Communicate the value of the Task Force works in ways that are clear, consistent, and compelling.

5) Increase Organizational Capacity and Maintain a Sustainable Organization: Maintain an active and engaged board. Develop and implement annual budgets, fundraising plans, and work plans. Plan and implement the Gallatin River Forever campaign to meet staffing and project needs as described in this strategic plan. Develop a Volunteer Leader program to expand capacity of outreach and fundraising programs. Expand volunteer base to assist with monitoring, outreach, and other tasks

1) Watershed Monitoring: A team of Task Force staff, Board members, and volunteers routinely collect samples at the 16 water quality monitoring sites along the mainstem of the Gallatin River and its tributaries.

2) Conservation: The Task Force works closely with the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, private landholders, donors, and volunteers to restore and protect the Gallatin River.

3) Community Partnerships: The Task Force has partnered with a diverse group of stakeholders, including land conservationists, federal agencies, businesses, developers, volunteers, and others to help the community accomplish the organization's mission.

4) Education and Outreach: The Task Force hosts community outreach events such as the Gallatin River Fly Fishing Festival, workshops such as Stormwater Best Management Practices and Trout Friendly Landscaping, and in-service learning programs in the local schools.

5) Increase Organizational Capacity and Maintain a Sustainable Organization:

Between 2005-2010, the primary focus of the Task Force were activities related to the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assessments funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and administered by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Once the TMDL assessments were completed in late 2010, the Task Force began to develop a watershed restoration plan for the Upper Gallatin to address issues identified in the TMDL assessments. A new program was developed to encompass and guide this planned restoration project work.

With the completion of the Upper Gallatin Watershed Restoration Plan in 2012, the Task Force began developing restoration projects guided by scientific data collected for the TMDL assessments and the Task Force monitoring program over the past 15 years. In the spring of 2015, the Task Force received funding for its first large-scale restoration project on the West Fork of the Gallatin River.

The Gallatin River Task Force's Strategic Plan, 2016 – 2020 built on 15 years of experience and success working to characterize, protect, and restore the waters of the Gallatin River Watershed. Now at 20 years in 2021 and with a new strategic plan through 2025, the Task Force protects this headwaters river which is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Gallatin is internationally recognized for its Class I fisheries, exhilarating Class III and IV rapids, and breathtaking scenery, making it one of the primary filming locations for the movie A River Runs Through It.

As the Task Force moves toward its third decade as the voice of the Upper Gallatin, we are seeing a convergence of threats that put our waters at risk in ways that are unprecedented. These include a shifting climate, lingering pollution problems, and a rapidly growing community with increasing demand for water supply and wastewater disposal with ecological damage along the riverbanks and riparian areas. The Task Force is responding to these challenges with the actions outlined in this Strategic Plan that we believe will restore and protect conditions of waterways within the Upper Gallatin Watershed. We remain alert to new opportunities and threats that emerge within the basin, and will respond appropriately.

In 2019, we closed our Gallatin River Forever capital campaign and in 2020 we celebrate 20 years of our work, looking to the next 20 years.. We’ve laid the foundation for organizational growth of water monitoring, restoration and conservation and allowing us to sustain our work. Through the support of hundreds of donors, notable foundations and local support: over $900,000 will or has gone go towards river conservation and restoration projects, water-quality monitoring, and expanded educational work and water conservation for a threatened watershed. The remaining sum ensures our ability to diversify funding across the region, expand our impact and reach, and launch the full implementation of the Big Sky Sustainable Watershed Plan.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email, social media,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Increasing our communications capacity to grow our ability to communicate to our greater community in a broad way about the importance and impact of our work!

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Gallatin River Task Force
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Gallatin River Task Force

Board of directors
as of 02/08/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Rick Donaldson

Gallatin River Task Force

Term: 2013 - 2020

Ron Edwards

Big Sky Water & Sewer District 363

Mike Richter

Montana Bureau of Mines & Geology

Rich Chandler

Yellowstone Club

Heather Budd

Highline Partners

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/29/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/29/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.