On April 20 and 21st of 2023, the first Clark Fork Science Forum was held at the Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula. Continuing the tradition of a recurrent meeting to address the status of the Clark Fork River and its floodplain, the meeting was a research-focused forum intended to foster the exchange of data, ideas, and interpretations. The Clark Fork Science Forum was a joint effort among the Montana University System, CREWS (Montana’s EPSCoR-funded Consortium for Research on Environmental Water Systems), the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, and the United States Geological Survey.
Researchers both presenting and in attendance represented multiple CREWS-funded state universities, as well as state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and industry organizations. The forum was possible due to the groundwork efforts of the Upper Clark Fork Working Group (UCFWG). The UCFWG is a collaborative envisioned and developed by Montana NSF EPSCoR and was created to encourage partnerships among academics, agencies, private businesses, and non-governmental organizations, to coordinate and guide research and monitoring, and to develop long-term sustainable outcomes for Montana’s EPSCoR Track-1 project.
Momentum generated by the Forum has accelerated interest in future workshops and established commitments to holding the Forum on an annual or bi-annual basis. The important role played by the UCFWG as a catalyst, organizer, and sponsor of the collaborative network embracing diverse groups of researchers and policy-setting communities cannot be underestimated. The Forum provides an unparalleled contribution to the sustainability and growth of Montana’s EPSCoR Track-1 CREWS project.