Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification

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


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

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Dr. Kristin Gardner

Director of Development

Ryan M. Newcomb

Main Address

Po Box 160513

Big Sky, MT 59716 USA

Formerly Known As



conservation, stewardship, watershed, river, restoration, recreation, public access, Montana, science, partnership, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, sustainability, wild trout, fisheries, volunteers, Yellowstone national park, Gallatin County, Gallatin Forest, Watershed, Water Scarcity, Water Conservation, restoration, wetlands, public lands, access,





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Energy Resources Conservation and Development (C35)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

The Gallatin River is the heartbeat of Southwest Montana, providing fresh water to seven communities between Yellowstone National Park and the headwaters of the Missouri River. This region has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, and this great river needs the support of great stewards. At the Gallatin River Task Force, we are working to protect and enhance the health of this world-class river, even as our greater community expands. Our work is made possible through the generous support of donors, volunteers, and partners, and we hope that you can join us in 2019. Since 2010, the population of Gallatin County has grown by 20%, almost four times the growth rate of the United States. This means that the Gallatin River is sustaining more human impacts today than at any other point in the river’s million-year history. The future of this precious resource is in our hands. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the support of you, the people of Southwest Montana.

Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Watershed Monitoring & Water Conservation

Community Education & Outreach

Conservation & Restoration

Responsible Growth & Sustainable Development

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of river miles being monitored

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Watershed Monitoring & Water Conservation

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


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

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Related program

Responsible Growth & Sustainable Development

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Strategic Focus Areas: 1) Watershed Monitoring; 2) Conservation; 3) Community Partnerships; 4) Education and Outreach; 5) Increase Organizational Capacity and Maintain a Sustainable Organization

Goals: 1) Collect watershed data to characterize conditions of waterways and habitat in the Upper Gallatin, assess for trends, monitor the success of stream restoration efforts, and capture episodic events. 2) To protect and enhance the conditions and vital signs of our waterways to ensure cold, clean and abundant water. 3) A community working together to protect the natural resource values that make Big Sky a desirable place to live and visit. 4) Inspire the watershed community to be stewards of the Gallatin River
Watershed. 5) Scale up the capacity of the Task Force to address the long-term needs of the Upper Gallatin Watershed.

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 consisting of between 7 and 11 members. 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:

Measureable Outcomes

1) Watershed Monitoring:
• Data collected on river health at 16 monitoring sites quarterly
• Six streamflow measurements collected over a range of streamflows
• Annual rating curve developed from continuous stage
measurements at each streamflow station and measured
• Calculated daily streamflow at each streamflow station from the
rating curve and stage measurements
• Outreach to include article in Task Force newsletter and updates on social media
• Printed and electronic version of annual water quality report

2) Conservation:
• Moose Creek River Access Restoration project completed with: 1) 723 feet of streambank stabilization, 2) 8,177 square feet of floodplain plantings, 3) 855 feet of trails developed, and 4) 4,393 square feet for installation of a boat ramp, 5) an educational interpretive sign, 6) 450 feet of fencing installed, and 7) 50 volunteers engaged in restoration activities
• Upper West Fork Restoration project completed with 1) a reduction in the nitrogen load in the Upper West Fork assessed by calculating loads from nitrogen and streamflow data; 2) a reduction in algal densities as assessed by chlorophyll a and biomass data; 3) a reduction in the bank erosion hazard index (BEHI) as determined by evaluation and load estimates at streambanks before and after restoration activities; 4) 285 feet of streambanks vegetated and stabilized; 5) 3.42 acres of new riparian and wetland vegetation, 6) 1,000 people educated through outreach activities; and 7) one interpretive sign and education brochure produced
• Deer Creek Restoration and Baetis Alley Restoration project in the construction phase.
• Annual river cleanup
• Measured increase in volunteer participation each year
• Estimated truckloads of trash collected each year
• Wild and Scenic designation for the Gallatin River, Taylor Fork, and Porcupine Creek

3) Community Partnerships:
• Sustainable water and wastewater disposal options developed for within and outside of the Big Sky Water and Sewer District that have minimal impacts to ground and surface waters.
• Identified and prioritized sensitive areas of the landscape in regards to water quality (wetlands, riparian areas)
• A community forum focused on sustainable development and water conservation
• Water management/drought resiliency plan developed through a collaborative process with watershed stakeholders to include prioritized projects, budgets and timelines for implementation

4) Education and Outreach:
• Complete yearly service-learning project and deliverable each year with local students
• Measured increase in participation at Task Force outreach events
• Minimum of one hundred people informed or educated on community watershed issues annually

5) Increase Organizational Capacity and Maintain a Sustainable Organization:
• Fundraising goal met or exceeded with Gallatin River Forever campaign
• A 20% annual increase in volunteer participation

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 builds on 15 years of experience and success working to characterize, protect, and restore the waters of the Upper Gallatin River Watershed. As the headwaters of the Missouri River basin and as part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Gallatin River 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 Robert Redford's 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 in the West Fork of the Gallatin, 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

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

Source: Self-reported by organization

the feedback loop
check_box We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
check_box We shared information about our current feedback practices.
How is the organization collecting feedback?
We regularly collect feedback through: 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 the organization using feedback?
We use feedback to: 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.
With whom is the organization sharing feedback?
We share feedback with: the people we serve, our staff, our board, our funders, our community partners.
What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?
It is difficult to: we don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback.
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!

External Reviews


Gallatin River Task Force

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

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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable

Organizational Demographics

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? This organization has voluntarily shared information to answer this important question and to support sector-wide learning. GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 01/29/2020


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & Ethnicity
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
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


No data

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

Equity Strategies

Last updated: 01/29/2020

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more


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.