FLBS has a long history of working closely with the local and statewide communities through student and community education, long-term environmental monitoring and data archival, and contributing to the local economy and community. In addition to providing services to regional and national organizations, we help to empower local citizens by disseminating knowledge of regional water quality and other environmental issues.
The FLBS is a valuable resource to everyone in the Flathead Valley. We invite you to learn more about us:
- Attend one of our seminars
- Sign up to receive our semi-annual newsletter- The Flathead Lake Journal
- Call us to coordinate student field trips to learn more about the science of water quality
- Feel free to drop in and look around (groups, please call ahead)
The facilities and grounds of FLBS are open to the public. We have a museum that records the 100-year history of the Station and we are currently working to complete self-guided activities for the public. Formal tours of the Station can be arranged upon request, including demonstration of experimental fire fuel reduction in the Station's old growth forest completed cooperatively with Plum Creek Timber Company during the winters of 2001-2003.
Student & Community Education
Two of our main objectives are to educate students in a top-notch facility and conduct freshwater research that impacts decision-makers at local, regional, national and international levels. Graduate and post-graduate students study year-round at the Station, and during the summer months more than 50 students reside at the Station. We seek to keep our neighbors apprised of current environmental issues through our summer seminar sessions (Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m.) and other events as they arise. Many investigators from around the world come to the Station to spend one week to two years working on projects, learning from and sharing knowledge with our research faculty.
Our faculty spend a large portion of their time researching and applying for various grant opportunities, on top of their own research and teaching duties. Considering all the work they do, the fact that they do an extensive amount of volunteer work in the community, pro bono, is amazing. They provide expert testimony on water quality, endangered species and other environmental issues when requested by officials and by NGOs, such as the Flathead Lakers and Flathead Basin Commission. For the past two decades, FLBS has produced an annual State-of-the-Lake report that describes the environmental condition of Flathead Lake. Upon implementation of our new direction, we intend to produce a biannual State-of-the (Crown of the Continent) Ecosystem report.
The FLBS faculty also will be available for public presentations of our research findings and practical implications of the work. Generally presentations will be 40-minute lectures with slides followed by question/answer sessions. We endeavor to be politically neutral, but do not shy away from controversial issues if our studies, data or informed judgment are useful for public awareness and factor in resolution. We will speak to groups in any venue upon invitation, as long as research schedules can be accommodated.
Expert Environmental Data Monitoring & Archival
Our past research has led to significant changes in the way our environment, water, and native and nonnative species are viewed and managed. For example, our research faculty determined that the introduction of mysis shrimp were having a detrimental impact on native fish and then determined the reasons. Now, groups around the world refer to our studies when contemplating the introduction of non-native species to various environments.
The Station has been monitoring and researching the water quality of Flathead, Whitefish and Swan Lake, for more than 20 years. Because of our long-term evaluations, we have been able to show how the lakes are being impacted and suggest measures to put in place to stop the decline in water quality. This vigilance ensures steps are taken to preserve and protect some of the most pristine remaining natural bodies of water in the world.
Our staff and faculty also provide expert testimony on local, regional, and national ecological issues, while striving to be a source of uncompromised expertise.
The faculty/staff of FLBS is uniquely qualified and fully prepared pending necessary funding from State government to function as a repository of environmental data and reports, particularly regarding water quality and aquatic conservation issues within Montana. To that end, the 2001 legislature charged FLBS with independent analysis of water quality problems associated with extraction of coal-bed methane within and adjacent to the Powder River Basin. We intend to foster this kind of interaction with State government as a specific outgrowth of our new direction at FLBS and in accordance with the mission of FLBS. We want our solid science to be viewed as a basis for consensus building in environmental problem solving.
The current yearly budget for FLBS is nearly $3 million. Most of it is spent locally. For every dollar the state provides us, we secure another five dollars from additional sources providing our community with a tremendous influx of money that would not otherwise be here. With a full time staff of 20-25 employees, FLBS is also a significant contributor of stable employment opportunities for the area. Each year the station supports five-ten graduate students in their research, invites visiting investigators and their families to live and work in the area, and hosts 4-8 conferences, all of whom supply additional business for our local community.
During the summer months, 50-60 students reside at the Station and spend $5-$10 a day around Flathead Valley. This translates into an additional $28,000 of support to local Montana businesses and families. Nearly 10% of the students who enroll in our summer sessions transfer to the University of Montana to continue their education, and in some cases their families follow. This, too, creates an additional source of income for the state. Our educational component is self-supporting and does not cost the state a dime. In addition, every building on Station grounds was built with non-state money.
A Good Neighbor in our Community
Our wastewater treatment plant is able to processes "waste" water returning to Flathead Lake so well, it is actually cleaner than the lake water! This plant treats both our Station grounds and the adjacent Yellow Bay Park facility, at no additional cost to taxpayers. We work in close collaboration with FWP to oversee the management of Yellow Bay Park. Our staff has often been the first to deal with disturbances at the park- putting out fires and responding to armed gunman and drunken parties. Our staff help maintain Yellow Bay State Park, including plowing the drive during winter to maintain access for local residents to enjoy the lake. Property taxes are reduced for our neighbors and local residents because of the presence of our fire truck and its close proximity to their land.