Our Story

In 1993, a group of Bitterroot residents came together to learn more about water resources in the Bitterroot Valley. They understood that water was the lifeblood of their community, and they wanted to form a group that would promote the protection and restoration of our water resources, and helps inform citizens of the many facets that support a healthy, functioning watershed.


Sharing information about the importance of a healthy watershed through educational “forums” was how the Bitter Root Water Forum got its start. Now, the Water Forum works to ensure clean water for this and future generations through a twofold approach of conservation education and on the ground restoration.


The Water Forum’s conservation education programs provide quality information on issues of watershed health to both youth and adults. Youth education programs provide easy and reliable access to conservation education both in schools and in the field through partnerships with area educators. Adult education programs connect community members with opportunities to learn more about watershed issues and include continuing education courses for Realtors, field tours of successful conservation projects, consultations for landowners interested in restoration projects, and public informational forums on watershed issues of importance.


The Water Forum’s restoration projects aim to improve stream health and rebuild healthy riparian areas. Projects are accomplished by working with streamside landowners and engaging an active team of volunteers. Recent projects include sediment reduction on Threemile and Rye Creeks through road improvement measures, and sediment and temperature reduction projects on the East fork of the Bitterroot River and Cameron Creek through streamside revegetation.


The Bitter Root Water Forum is a community driven non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the traditions of agriculture, community and recreation by protecting, enhancing and restoring the Bitterroot watershed through on the ground restoration projects and watershed education.

We are working for the day when:

  • The watershed's residents and visitors are well informed on how integral the Bitterroot River is to the Valley's social, ecological, and economic well-being, and make its care and protection a top priority.

  • Urban and rural neighbors work together, using science and local wisdom, to proactively and continually maintain and improve water quality in our watershed.

  • The Bitterroot River system continues to provide for diverse uses while achieving its potential as a world-class fishery and top-quality aquatic habitat.

Water Forum Roots

Darlene, bundling willows for a successful restoration project (linked to RESTORATION) at her home on the Bitterroot River in Stevensville

The Water Forum is the Bitterroot Valley’s local watershed group. We were established in 1993 by 5 concerned grandmothers and a Ravalli County Extension Agent who joined together to learn more about our watershed and then decided to share what they learned with the community. We have since evolved into a collaborative watershed group and officially became a 501 (c) non-profit organization in 2004. Darlene Grove along with Jean Atthowe, Shirley Bugli, Willie Christ, and Millie Sullivan are the founding Grandmothers of the Water Forum and we are forever grateful for their contributions to the Bitterroot watershed.

Darlene Grove, bundling willows for a successful restoration project at her home on the Bitterroot River in Stevensville