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Clark Fork River Ambassadors bring love for river, passion for preservation

Posted at 10:16 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 12:16:31-04

MISSOULA - Did you know that the Clark Fork’s rivers and streams make up 5% of our landscape?

While that number may not seem large, it supplies resources to hundreds of thousands of people and wildlife.

That’s why one newly formed group is doing what they can to merge education and safety with fun.

“I love being on the river it's my favorite thing to do in the summer,” said Clark Fork River Ambassador Peter Helman.

A love for the river and a passion for preserving it are some of the requirements to be a Clark Fork River Ambassador.

“I saw how people treated their natural resources and I wanted to get into more education outreach,” said Clark Fork River Ambassador Courtney Hubbs.

Helman and Hubbs are two of four ambassadors tasked with the job of protecting, educating and guiding responsible recreation use for river lovers through the Clark Fork. That was the goal behind the program sponsored by Missoula County commissioners.

“They're responsible to the people and the river to make sure folks have a good experience and are safe and that the river continues to be healthy and thrive for the next set of people,” said Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick.

River ambassadors are paid to not only monitor the river, but be a resource for those using it. From questions to clean-up to recreation, it's just another day on the river for Helman and Hubbs.

“The river can't speak for itself," Helman told MTN News. "So somebody has to somebody has to figure out the needs of the river. And not only think of this current generation that's using the river, but the generations to come.”

As MTN News stood with her on the riverbank, we asked what she sees.

“What I see is I see a lot of fish habitats building through our little logjam right here," Hubbs explained. "And I also see quite a bit of erosion from people trying to access the river at this point.”

Advocating for the river looks like encouraging established pull out spots, pack it in, pack it out mentality and safe recreating by knowing before you go.

“You know, the river right now rivers across the state being insanely high," said Helman. "It's very important to know your skill level on water and how comfortable you are in Whitewater on a tube on a boat and a kayak no matter where you are, what you're going to be doing.”

The phrase “know before you go” is used a lot to ensure safe recreating. And the river ambassadors say that right now, may not be the best time to go on the river if you don’t feel totally confident in your skills.

Check out current numbers on the Clark Fork River from The U.S Geological Survey, and follow the river ambassadors in Instagram to see updates on river conditions.