Montana TU and Logjam Presents stay the course on the Blackfoot

This summer, live music will benefit Montana’s famed Blackfoot River. That’s because Montana Trout Unlimited and Logjam Presents, owners of Missoula’s new KettleHouse Amphitheater, on the banks of the iconic Blackfoot River, are partnering to raise money to continue improving the health of the Blackfoot.

For more than a hundred years, the confluence of the Blackfoot River and the Clark Fork River was drowned behind a dam. As its name implied, the Milltown Dam was built to provide hydroelectric power to the largest wood processing operation in western Montana. The dam was removed in 2008 as part of the country’s largest Superfund cleanup effort, allowing native westslope cutthroat and bull trout to migrate freely through the confluence for the first time in a century.

Montana Trout Unlimited is part of a new partnership to help conserve, protect, and restore even more of the iconic Blackfoot River. Logjam’s charitable Foundation will donate $1 from each ticket sold to all 15 of the outdoor shows at the amphitheater this summer, five percent of bar sales during the shows, and all the profits from Blackfoot River fund merchandise, as well as provide concert goers with the opportunity to give directly. The goal for the first year is to raise more than $100,000.

The Big Blackfoot is reknown for its wild, free-stone nature, and its trout angling. But it hasn’t always been so good. The “high jumping” native trout of Norman Maclean’s day and the “the big river” that held them had been, by the 1980s, hammered by headwater mine contamination, clear-cutting of the river’s forested hillsides, and overharvest. By the time bull trout were designated as threatened in 1996, the Blackfoot was on the mend due, in large part, to watershed-based groups of local residents, including a hearty chapter of Trout Unlimited. For the last 15 years, TU project manager Ryen Neudecker has worked for the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited to continue healing the river.

MTU’s new partnership will help fund BBCTU and Ryen’s work reconnecting tributaries, restoring damaged streams and floodplains, and working with landowners to increase water use efficiency so more cold, clean water flows into the Blackfoot. We will work with other partners, such as state and federal agencies, to identify and fund projects that benefit the river’s trout habitat and fishery. Money generated by this creative fund will also go to defending the Blackfoot from the kind of poor management and unhealthy uses from which it is only recently recovering.

For more information about Blackfoot River Fund and the Logjam Presents summer concert series, check out: Also stay connected with this great partnership via MTU’s website, or call us anytime at (406) 543-0054.

— David Brooks

By Chris Hunt.