National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Program

Description: In February 1994, a Nutrient Target Subcommittee was established by the Tri-State Water Council to: 1) achieve consensus on in-stream nutrient targets for the Clark Fork River, and 2) develop a basin wide nutrient source reduction program to meet those targets.

From the standpoint of nutrient concentrations and their potential to grow algae, the upper and middle reaches of the Clark Fork River are some of the most productive stream waters in Montana west of the Continental Divide. Concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Clark Fork have resulted in dense mats of filamentous algae in the river above Missoula and heavy growths of diatom algae below Missoula.

Guided by the Council's April 1995 decision to take a voluntary rather than mandatory approach to the reduction strategy, the subcommittee completed its task of developing a specific plan of action, the Clark Fork River Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Program (VNRP.) The goal of the VNRP is to restore beneficial uses and eliminate nuisance algae growth in the Clark Fork River from Warm Springs Creek to the Flathead River confluence.

Geographic area covered: The Clark Fork River of the Columbia Basin in three states including Montana, Idaho, and Washington. The Deer Lodge VNRP contribution is directly towards the Upper Clark Fork River basin.

List of partners and relationships: The primary park partner is the City of Deer Lodge. Secondary partners of the VNRP include, but are not limited to: the cities of Butte, Deer Lodge and Missoula; Stone Container Corporation; the University of Montana; the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Coalition; the Missoula City-County Health Department; and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Accomplishments to date: Infrastructure was established. Three seasons of nutrient reduction and monitoring.

Key success factors:

  1. Motivation of the partners to self-manage rather than be regulated.
  2. Proximity of physical resources (e.g., land next to effluent).
  3. Commitment to conservation.
  4. Creative financing.

Frustrations: Sharing of the burden of responsibility and operations. Lack of a long term plan. Annual renewal of financial commitments. Lack of foresight into operational expenses. The park's perception that the city/community has lost sight of the value of the program.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. The partnership can work.
  2. Nutrient loading can be reduced.
  3. Education/awareness within a community can fade through time.
  4. Partnerships need to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
  5. Reasons for the initial and continued commitment should be clearly articulated.
  6. Agreements must be adaptable for changing conditions.

What would you do differently next time: A long term plan should be established at the beginning or shortly after the startup of the pilot partnership. The operational portion (e.g., finances, roles and responsibilities) of any partnership should be well thought out in advance. Outreach should be continued throughout the life of a partnership to nurture support.

Suggested resource materials:

http://www.tristatecouncil.org/pages/vnrp.html

http://www.tristatecouncil.org/pages/pubs.html

http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/wastewater/VNRP.htm

For more information:

Name: Ben Bobowski
Affiliation: Chief of Natural Resources for Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS
Phone/Fax: 406-846-2070 ext 240
Email/website: ben_bobowski@nps.gov

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements __; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism __; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Ben Bobowski Date posted: 8/1/03
Phone: 406-846-2070 ext. 240

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