Protect the Smith – Sign the Mineral Withdrawal Petition

The deadline for Smith River permit applications is approaching and we hope you have good luck this year, whether it’s your first trip or a return visit to this special place. The Smith is revered by Montanans for more reasons than just fishing: scenic views, ancient pictographs and other cultural sites, hunting, wildlife, and more abound in and above the canyon.

That’s why we’re asking the U.S. Forest Service to protect public lands in the Smith from future industrial mining. More than 700 recent claims have been filed on public lands adjacent to the Smith’s most important coldwater tributary. The Smith many values are worth protecting.

Visit our Smith Mineral Withdrawal page to learn more and SIGN THE PETITION today!

The USFS has the power to protect these lands and their many values. Let them know that the Smith’s public lands are not the place for industrial mining.

Thank you for all you do to help us conserve, protect, and restore the Smith and all of Montana’s coldwater fisheries. Good luck with the drawing and maybe we will see you in the canyon!

Farnum Alston: a commitment to conservation

By Kelley Willett

I never had the good fortune to meet him, but I know that Farnum Alston fished all over the world. His friendships and achievements also span the globe. Farnum’s resume lists a plethora of accomplishments that are a testament to his lifelong commitment to public service and environmental protection. 

I know all of this because one of his friends (a past MTU volunteer who has also given time and treasure to MTU) reached out to MTU after his death and together with Farnum’s widow, decided to honor his memory and make a big difference for Montana Trout Unlimited. They wanted his abundant fishing gear and drift boat to raise funds for cold-water conservation in Montana. As ever, MTU, is humbled when people think of us during the hardest of times.  

Each year MTU hosts friends and donors on float trips to highlight the great work that their philanthropy makes possible. The aim is to show impact, and hopefully that results in more philanthropy. We’ve been rowing folks down the river in a very well-loved, two-decade old drift boat that has seen better days. Last year a staff member was ejected when a seat broke; we’ve been questioning if the boat is still safe for tours. We would not want to use donor funds to buy a new craft, which is why the gift of this beautiful, safe, comfortable boat is such a boon. We know that when people see the work, and the fish, and the repaired riparian corridors, that they want to continue giving, and in many cases give even more. A day on the water gives us the perfect place to also take about our policy, advocacy and education efforts that also benefit MT’s coldwater fisheries. We are excited to put a plaque in the boat recognizing this family for helping us and honoring this anglers’ legacy.  

Fifty years from now, someone will be fishing a reach of a Montana river that was dear to this angler, and that will be thanks to his friend and his widow having the vision to honor his memory with a gift that truly keeps on giving. 

To make a gift in Farnum’s memory, please consider Montana Trout Unlimited, which conserves, protects and restores the very Montana cold-water fisheries that he loved.  

Checks can be mailed to:  MTU, PO Box 7186, Missoula, MT 59807, or give online at

We’re Hiring! Seeking a Custer-Gallatin Forest Project Manager


Montana Trout Unlimited (MTU) represents more than 4,200 members and supporters organized into 13 chapters in Montana.  We are a small, dedicated, creative staff tasked with overseeing our mission to conserve, protect, and restore Montana’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.  MTU fulfills this mission through staff and volunteer-led outreach and education, fundraising, policy development, and science-driven stream restoration.

For more than two decades, MTU has regularly partnered with our national Trout Unlimited project managers and other stakeholders on streamflow and habitat restoration work across the state.  Our work focuses on restoring instream flow, fish passage, and improving habitat for the benefit of native and wild trout populations in the Clark Fork, Missouri, Gallatin, Madison, Jefferson, Yellowstone, and many major tributary rivers and streams.  In all of these geographies, we work collaboratively with federal and state agencies, as well as other nonprofit partners and businesses on federal, state, and private land-based projects. MTU is now interested in dedicating a project manager to evaluate and execute priority projects of this nature in the Yellowstone watershed, with a strong emphasis on Custer-Gallatin National Forest lands in the vicinity of Red Lodge, MT. This position will focus on inventorying, prioritizing, developing and implementing projects in the tributaries and mainstem of Rock Creek, East and West Rosebud, and the Stillwater River, as well as other prioritized streams.  Thus, MTU is seeking qualified applicants to fill the newly created Custer-Gallatin Forest Project Manager position.


TU Project Managers hold unique and diverse positions depending on the needs and opportunities in different watersheds.  In short, people in these positions “make things happen on the ground.”  In that spirit, we are hiring a self-motivated and highly capable person to identify, plan, and implement water conservation, fish passage, and stream and riparian restoration projects to benefit aquatic resources and fish populations primarily on streams in and adjacent to the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.  The Project Manager will work closely with the USFS Custer-Gallatin staff to seek opportunities to reconnect coldwater sources to mainstem rivers and restore or create more resilient coldwater habitats on public lands.  The Project Manager will be responsible for all aspects of this work from engaging relevant partners to inventory this geography for needed and potential projects, through project planning, permitting, contracting, implementation, monitoring and outreach. In addition to working with forest service staff, this position will also engage other TU staff, TU chapter volunteers and chapters, and partner organizations working in these watersheds.  Experience with stream restoration, contractor oversight, and hydrology are key qualifications.  Excellent interpersonal skills and communications –verbal and written – are a must, as is a high level of motivation to pursue the MTU mission.

A significant focus will be placed upon partnership-building with the Custer-Gallatin Forest and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, as well as the nearby Magic City Flyfishers chapter of TU (Billings) and the Joe Brooks chapter of TU (Livingston). Engaging local land trusts, conservation districts, state and federal agencies, landowners, watershed groups, and other non-profit organizations will also be key to success in this role.  In addition, the successful applicant will be expected to seek out, apply for, and obtain funding to support project work and core operational costs.  The Project Manager will work closely with other TU Project Managers in the state to obtain experience and coordinate efforts.  Ideally the successful candidate will live and work from Red Lodge, MT, or the surrounding area.  This position will require frequent local travel for field work.

When you join MTU, you will become part of a highly supportive community of coworkers who believe in collaboration, respect and sharing inspiration, as well as being committed to our core values: Science, Native and wild trout, Connectivity and Diversity. MTU is committed to working toward justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion both within our organization and in our work with people outside the organization.


  • Engage USFS, other state and federal agencies, TU chapters and other stakeholders to prioritize projects, develop partnerships, and initiate restoration or instream flow planning activities, primarily on CGNF.
  • Create a bibliography of past data collection, assessments and restoration work in the watershed to help inform and prioritize future restoration.
  • Develop and implement streamflow, habitat, and fish passage restoration projects and monitoring plans.
  • Coordinate with state and federal agencies and other TU staff to collect field data for project development and post-project monitoring
  • Work both independently and in partnership with other TU staff on fundraising, including identifying potential funding sources, drafting grant proposals, and developing relationships with funders to sustain the program budget.
  • Supervise interns and/or seasonal field technicians.
  • Perform basic administration duties including project reporting, invoicing, and tracking project budgets.
  • Present project work and progress to chapter membership/meetings and/or at statewide TU meetings.
  • Attend and report work at quarterly MTU meetings, as well as attend numerous annual chapter functions/gatherings.

This is not an all-inclusive list of duties and responsibilities.


  • Bachelor’s degree in a water resource related field (e.g. hydrology, fisheries, engineering, etc.) required; graduate degree preferred.
  • Prefer two years of professional experience in natural resource project management, emphasis on stream restoration.
  • Experience with water conservation, fish passage improvements, and stream restoration preferred.
  • Construction experience, including working with and supervising contractors preferred
  • Demonstrated performance in grant writing and other fundraising activities.
  • Superior interpersonal skills and ability to work constructively with diverse partners, community stakeholders and private landowners.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills required.
  • Experience with media relations and public outreach is helpful.
  • Good organizational and problem-solving abilities.
  • Ability to work independently while managing complex projects.
  • Willingness to travel within the region as necessary.
  • Ability to provide own transportation required, mileage reimbursed.
  • Passion for protecting and restoring trout streams and their watersheds!
  • Knowledge of the Yellowstone watershed and/or Custer-Gallatin National Forest is a big plus!
  • Ability to lift 40lbs., work in inclement weather conditions, hike long distances over difficult terrain and work in/around moving water are necessary.


Estimated salary for this position is $60-65,000 annually, depending on experience. MTU also provides an exceptional comprehensive benefits package including: health care, flexible spending account, employer match retirement 401(b), holidays and accrued paid time off, sick time, sabbatical, and other life/work balance benefits.


Please upload a one- to two-page letter of interest, resume, three professional references, and less-than-one-page answers to the supplemental questions (below) to TU’s Paylocity Site by Dec. 15, 2024.  Interviews will be in early 2024. Winter, 2024, start date is flexible.


To assist MTU in evaluating your application, please answer the following questions.  Please make your answers concise yet specific and keep them to under one page, single-spaced.

  1. Please summarize your experience working with federal or state agency staff, especially on watershed-scale project planning.
  1. Describe any special training you have received or work experiences that you have had related to hydrology, fish passage, stream restoration and construction, stream-flow measurements, instream flow improvements, or investigating water rights.  Describe any training, experience, or special qualities you have that are important for us to consider when evaluating you as a candidate for this position.

MTU is an Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Employer pursuant to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act & Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistant Act.

MTU hires staff without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or disability.

Diversion Dam Removal Slated for the Boulder

Trout in the Jefferson River may have more access to spawning areas and thermal refuge thanks to a new partnership announced today by Montana Trout Unlimited (MTU) that will remove three aging diversion dams on the Boulder River. MTU is collaborating with Barrick Gold, owners of the Golden Sunlight Mine, with complimentary support from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and L.R. Huckaba Ranch on the Boulder River near Cardwell, MT to increase stream flow and connectivity on the Boulder.  

“We commend Barrick and Golden Sunlight for taking a proactive approach to replace deteriorating infrastructure and for considering the potential benefits for the river and all the creatures that rely on it,” said Chris Edgington, MTU’s Jefferson Watershed Project Manager. “With trout numbers near, or at historic lows across much of Southwest Montana, there’s no better time for a water quantity and quality project in this area. This is a great example of the win-win projects Montana Trout Unlimited strives to develop.” 

Rising in the mountains north of Butte, the Boulder River is the largest tributary to the Jefferson River downstream of the Beaverhead-Big Hole River confluence, providing a boost of cold water near the midpoint of the Jefferson’s 83-mile length. The Boulder is a high-value coldwater fishery and provides significant agricultural production in Jefferson County. On the Candlestick Ranch, the Shaw Diversion Dam and two smaller diversions deliver water to 233 acres of cropland. The aging infrastructure is getting more difficult to operate and regulate irrigation withdrawal. This project will alleviate infrastructure concerns, by removing the diversion dams and replacing them with instream irrigation pumps, thereby providing a significant ecological uplift to the Boulder and Jefferson Rivers through stream restoration, water savings, continued agricultural benefit, and wetland development. 

“We are excited to partner with Montana Trout Unlimited in the removal of a diversion from the Boulder River. This collaborative effort will help to ensure a healthy and thriving fishery for future generations. Barrick’s dedication to our community as well as the surrounding wildlife exemplifies our commitment to building sustainable legacies,” said Kristine Murphy, Golden Sunlight General Manager.

“This project is a win-win for trout and property owners, and we couldn’t be more excited to see it get off the ground,” said Edgington. 

In April 2021, the partners met to discuss the challenges at the project site, to share what resources they could provide, and what the potential outcomes of the project could be. MTU, along with FWP and NRCS, developed a plan to collect baseline data to quantify project benefits. Methods of data collection have included stream and irrigation flow monitoring, continuous temperature monitoring, fish population estimates, redd counts, juvenile trout out-migration surveys, and a wetland delineation.  

Quantifiable project benefits include: 

  • Improving irrigation delivery and efficiency to 233 acres of valuable cropland 
  • Achieving 7 CFS of cold Boulder River water savings over the current base flow of 28 CFS 
  • Providing fish and other aquatic organism passage for thermal refugia and spawning 
  • Eliminating fish entrainment in 3 irrigation ditches 
  • Reducing nutrient and sediment loading 
  • Creating wetlands 

“The project adds about 7 CFS of summer flow to the Jefferson River, and Boulder River water is 2 to 3 °F cooler than the Jefferson during August,” said Ron Spoon, FWP Fisheries Biologist. 

Planning, engineering, and design for the dam removal and stream restoration will begin this fall. The partners anticipate project implementation in the fall/winter of 2025. For more information on this project, contact Chris Edgington at [email protected]