Answers to frequently asked questions

Learn more about the importance of this river system and how it effects millions of people downstream

What exactly is UMOWA?

The Upper Missouri Watershed Alliance (UMOWA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit conservation organization created in 2014 by local citizens concerned for the health and future of the Upper Missouri Watershed. UMOWA was founded on the premise of collecting, validating and publishing scientific data that has a direct bearing on the health of this river. Additionally, UMOWA undertakes projects to preserve, enhance and protect this river system.

What has UMOWA Accomplished?

UMOWA’S main accomplishment in its seven years of existence has been to raise awareness of the critical issues impacting the future of this vital watershed. Concerns such as the introduction of aquatic invasive species, increased levels of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) potentially influencing excessive aquatic plant growth, and degradation of streambanks are being aggressively addressed by UMOWA.

Notably, UMOWA has completed:

2021 Projects and Volunteering Events:

  • NEW PROJECT: Initiating Aquatic Health Summary: This is an educational conservation program that will compile existing scientific data on the Upper Missouri River’s water quality, flow regimes, fish populations, aquatic plants, macroinvertebrate populations, and nonpoint source pollutants into a comprehensive data map. This project will help users conceptualize how the Missouri River’s water quality and flushing flows correlate with fluctuating aquatic plant and macroinvertebrate communities each season. Support this project.
  • Bashin’ Trash Volunteer River Clean-up
  • 2021 RO Drift Boat Raffle

How can I support UMOWA?

UMOWA’s efforts to continue its vital endeavors to preserve and protect the Upper Missouri  Watershed are dependent on funding. We rely on the support and generosity of those who believe in the importance of our work. Visit the links below to DONATE or JOIN/RENEW and make a positive difference.

You can also mail a check to:
P.O. Box 377
Helena, MT 59601-0377



Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are those organisms that impact water bodies and wetlands. Whether they come on the trailers or hulls of recreational boats, or from the water of an angler’s waders and boots, several non-native invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, New Zealand mud snails, Quagga mussel, and Zebra mussel have found their way into Montana’s water bodies. Their presence can cause severe damage to local ecosystems, industry, and tourism.
UMOWA has partnered with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks along with public and private stakeholders in Montana to create an effective strategy of prevention, containment, and control.

UMOWA has been the motivating force behind the installation of the first boat wash station in Craig and is continuing an aggressive public information campaign to convince water users of the importance of equipment cleaning and sanitization.

Thomas Woolf, MT FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief, a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) has been a welcome addition to this important working group. Read More >>

Where does my donation go?

One-hundred percent of all donations received go toward fulfilling UMOWA’s mission to preserve and protect the Upper Missouri Watershed. All of our Board members serve voluntarily and graciously donate their time and expertise to accomplish our goals.


What is UMOWA’s Vision Statement?

To be the primary source for high-quality data on the Upper Missouri River that provides useful information to guide decisions by all stakeholders.  This will result in education, collaboration, and projects that are innovative and improve the health of this valued resource.

What is UMOWA’s Mission Statement?

To understand, conserve, and enhance the unique ecological and recreational resources of the Upper Missouri River.

What are the benefits of the Aquatic Insect Study?

UMOWA has funded and conducted evidence-based scientific studies of the macroinvertebrate (aquatic insect) life on the Upper Missouri River for the past six years. We have been able to reliably determine that the health of bug life and insect hatches is clearly dependent on periodic flushing flows of the river during the spring run-off. We are using this data to interact with MT FWP, Northwestern Energy, and the US BOR to manage these flow events.

Why spend money to study the Aquatic Plant growth in the river?

For several years, there has been anecdotal evidence that the density of plant growth in the river has increased dramatically. Until UMOWA undertook the effort to design and implement a scientifically valid study of this phenomenon no one was looking into this trend. Without a formal investigative process to explore this, nothing can be done to define and ultimately mitigate this condition.

What are some of our key science-based achievements?

UMOWA was founded by a core group of individuals who were committed to preserving and protecting the river by utilizing valid scientific data that was to be collected on a recurring basis. Our focus has been to investigate macroinvertebrate life, water quality, aquatic plant growth, the presence and mitigation of aquatic invasive species, and streambank stabilization and revegetation. Each of these endeavors has produced compelling data that has been presented to all stakeholders. See our scientific reports.