Algae sampled and bagged.

Seeing green

The latest on the Gallatin River algae bloom

Back in August the Lookout reported on the curious amount of algae being spotted along the Gallatin River—from south of the Taylor Fork area and throughout the Gallatin Canyon. The Gallatin River Task Force was well aware of the issue, and quickly went to work collecting samples to find out more about why the bloom, described as “the worst it’s ever been,” was so prominent this summer.

Samples of the green slime and water quality data were taken by the task force team from 21 locations along the river, and they hope to have results from Energy Laboratories this November.

In the meantime, GRTF Education and Communications Coordinator Stephanie Lynn posted a Q&A aimed at answering all those burning questions about algae and its effects on a river’s ecosystem. The questions address historical algae bloom data, the causes and effects of blooms, what we can do about them and more.

“Although we do not have data from 2018, we do know that excess nutrient from wastewater irrigation on the golf course, improperly maintained septic systems, development near streamside areas, and fertilizer has caused nuisance algae growth in the South Fork of the West Fork, Middle Fork of the West Fork, and West Fork in previous years,” Lynn wrote in a recent email to the Lookout. “In addition, the DEQ report indicated that this year was a low- to mid-range algae growth year statewide due to good snowpack and runoff, and the Gallatin River appears to be a regional anomaly.”

To learn more, check out the GRTF’s Q&A at —JP


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