FLBS Announces First Bio Station Business Drive to Support Research and Monitoring in Flathead Watershed
The University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) will officially launch the first-ever Bio Station Business Drive fundraising campaign on April 15.
Gifts to the Bio Station Business Drive will directly support FLBS research and monitoring in the Flathead watershed, which includes Flathead, Whitefish, and Swan Lakes; as well as local rivers. This support will allow FLBS to continue and expand its collection and analysis of water samples, utilize technologically-advanced sensor networks, and increase chances of detecting unwanted invasive species as early as possible.
The vision for the Business Drive came from Lakeside resident Bruce Young, who currently serves on the Flathead Lake Biological Station advisory board. The fourth-generation Montanan has been a realtor for over forty years, and is a longtime advocate for Flathead Lake.
“The greatest mistake we could make is to think someone else is going to look after our most precious resource, which is water,” Young said. “The public must be involved and stay involved and there is no better place to start than FLBS Science.”
For over 120 years, the FLBS has stood as a world-leading ecological research and education facility on the shores of Flathead Lake. In that time it has served as "Sentinel" of the Flathead watershed, monitoring water quality and keeping watch for unwanted invasive species.
Declines in water quality and the arrival of new invasive species have historically been and continue to be the greatest threats to our world-renowned waters of the Flathead and the economies that depend upon them. The Bio Station Business Drive highlights the mutually beneficial relationship between the freshwater resources of NW Montana and the business communities that benefit from them, and gives local businesses the opportunity to step up as protectors of these irreplaceable resources.
Invasive mussels are perhaps the most formidable threat to fresh water in the Flathead watershed (and all of Montana). It's currently estimated that an invasive mussel infestation would cost Montana over $230 million a year in revenue loss and mitigation costs. The direct impact of invasive mussels to tourism and recreation is estimated to be over $120 million per year, while the loss to lake shore property values is estimated to be nearly $500 million.
Yet, aquatic invasive mussels are only one of the threats FLBS is researching that face our freshwater-based economy. Other issues, such as leaching septic systems and climate change, are also growing areas of concern. Increasing water quality monitoring allows researchers to detect threats before they can become problems that destroy the value of lakes, rivers, and private property. It also helps managers and legislators make more informed decisions to protect water quality in the Flathead watershed.
While Young hopes he can get as many businesses as possible to support the Bio Station Business Drive, he certainly doesn’t expect support from all businesses to be the same. Businesses are encouraged to participate in the Drive in any way, such as helping to promote the Flathead Lake Biological Station in their respective communities, either by having Bio Station materials available for their customers or creating a special “Keep It Blue”-themed product for purchase.
“If businesses are able to provide financial support, that’s fantastic,” Young said. “If they come up with some other creative way to engage with the Business Drive, that’s great, too. Whether business communities participate at a high level or a lower level, as long as we’re all working toward a common goal of doing all we can to monitor and protect the quality of our water, then this business drive will be a huge success.”
Young said he’s already connected with several chambers of commerce in the Flathead area, and already has received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“It’s so clearly a win for everybody,” he said. “This isn’t about politics, or making a money grab. It’s about water, and water is about life.”
The Bio Station Business Drive will run through the summer and end on October 15. Businesses can participate in the Drive by contacting Bruce Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-249-9787; or FLBS Assistant Director Tom Bansak at email@example.com or 406-872-4503.
Starting on April 15, businesses can also give directly through the Bio Station Business Drive website at http://bit.ly/FLBS-BusinessDrive.
More information about Bruce Young and the Bio Station Business Drive can be found at http://bit.ly/FLBS-MrFlatheadLake.