Nonprofit Spotlight: Bitter Root Water Forum

Wendy Bolm 07/19/2016
Nonprofit Spotlight: Bitter Root Water Forum

The status quo is no longer cutting it in the United States. Every day we are inundated by news outlets and social media with the problems our society faces. At CommitChange, we accept the current issues in the U.S. and abroad as reality, but we actively work to support and educate our nonprofits, and many others, to help them raise funds in order to actively address and start working through the problems that have been slowly chipping away at our futures. This is the first in a three part series we will publish over the next few weeks that spotlights the good work of some of our most forward-thinking nonprofits.

Bitter Root Water Forum

In the Bitterroot National Forest, abandoned, crumbling roads are depositing sediment into the Bitterroot River. Though there is no one direct cause, secondary sources of pollution like deposits from these roads and erosion of the river’s banks are negatively affecting water quality and are unnaturally raising the temperature of the river’s water.

Bitter Root Water Forum’s mission is to organize and connect grassroots efforts to retain the river back to its former health and educate locals on the Bitterroot Watershed and why the watershed and river’s health is necessary to provide them with clean  water.

BRWF Executive Director, Heather BarberHeather Barber, BRWF’s executive director, says that it is local efforts that can have the biggest impact on environmental problems. “My background is conservation politics,” she says. “I realized that after spending years of fighting the good fight in the legislature, I didn’t have the same impact as working in direct action at the local level.”

Since 1993, BRWF has had hundreds of volunteers dedicating thousands of hours to planting native vegetation along the banks of the Bitterroot River and developing man-made stabilizers out of natural materials like willow and coconut fabric to cut down on bank erosion. Even with all of the measurable steps they’ve taken to restore the watershed, Heather says the most satisfying reward she has in her job is when a child attends one of BRWF’s education events and their eyes light up in understanding over the importance of the watershed system.

According to Heather, there are dozens of sources of non-point source pollution. Everything from home septic tanks to cattle can cause problems to the local ecosystem, and it’s more important than ever for people to realize how the decisions they make, even at home, impact the world around them.

BRWF Volunteer Carolyn Rye

“We truly believe that fresh water is the most valuable resource on the planet,” Heather says. “We don’t have as much as people think we do, so it’s really important to protect the resources we do have.”

She says that, especially in the West, it’s only going to get more serious.

News about global warming, pollution, and the planet’s ability to sustain itself continue to grow more dire each year. Heather says people need to get involved in conservation at the local level. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s about working with people to determine what’s best for the place they live.”