MISSOULA — We are showing you how we all can become scientists to help our rivers and streams here in Montana in this edition of Out and About.
MTN recently met up with members of the Watershed Education Network (WEN), a Missoula-based group that's looking for volunteers to help with some of the work they are doing in Rattlesnake Creek.
The non-profit citizen science group works to collect valuable data from our local streams and rivers — and they rely heavily on volunteers.
“We can have all the gear, all the knowledge and all the fancy toys, but without volunteers, we can’t do anything,” explained WEN Stream Team coordinator Stephie Novak. “So last year we had hundreds of volunteers come out and join us for hundreds of hours of volunteering in the field. So, even if folks join us for one afternoon on a Sunday or outing on a weekday, that goes to making a huge difference in what sort of work we can do.”
Novak added that volunteers do not need to have any previous experience to lend a hand.
“So it doesn’t matter what sort of background they have, they can go to our website -- we have a tab on there that says volunteer. They can click on that and see all of our volunteer opportunities."
One of the reports that the Watershed Education Network helped publish was about the impacts of the removal of the Rattlesnake Dam. WEN worked alongside Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Trout Unlimited and Missoula Parks and Recreation to come up with the report — and the citizen scientists were a big part of it.
“We all came together to write this report using data that our citizen scientists went out and collected. And we were able to take the professional data — along with our citizen scientists data — and join that into a really beautiful report looking at the effects of the dam removal,” Novak said.
People who would like to get involved with the Watershed Education Network can visit https://www.montanawatershed.org/ or check out WEN on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/watershed.education.network.