2015 Stories

Celia Talbot Tobin stands on the river bank.

Celia's story, "Crossing the Line," examines the impacts of mining waste that travels from the Elk Valley in British Columbia to Lake Koocanusa in Montana. The lake and its tributaries contain questionable levels of selenium, which, in high concentrations can damage entire ecosystems. This piece follows efforts to create transboundary legislation and environmental standards to keep the waters healthy for generations of fish (and fishermen) to come.

Ken Rand stands in the lake, holding up a paddle of invasive aquatic plants.

Ken's story, "Finding the Invisible," follows the struggle to stop the spread of invasive species around Flathead Lake, Montana. Through the use of a up-and-coming tool called environmental DNA, scientists at the University of Montana can find a single cell of an organism carried in a drop of water. While many invasive species are already present in the West, aquatic plants are the greatest threat to local economies and ecosystems if introduced and allowed to spread. The recent arrival of invasive mussels, found for the first time in several bodies of water in the Missouri River drainage in fall 2016, once again signaled the need for streamlined detection.