You Can Help Protect the Gallatin River

Hikers, lace up your boots, and head into the Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone to gather water samples. Paddlers, it’s time to eddy out for conservation science. Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is launching a new project just miles from our headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, tackling an emerging problem for waters near and far.

Flowing 120 miles through the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Gallatin River is home to some of the nation’s most pristine landscapes and its best river recreation. The Gallatin is a lifeblood for local communities, but preliminary ASC samples show that it is threatened by microplastic pollution.  


Looking upstream on the Gallatin River from Storm Castle (Photo by Emily Stifler Wolfe)

“As we continue to find microplastic particles in water samples from around the world, we’re compelled to ask deeper questions and move beyond what we already know,” says ASC Microplastics Project Manager Jenna Walenga. “Yes, plastic ends up in the ocean, but where exactly is it coming from?” 

With your help, we aim to find out.

Starting this September, the southwest Montana river community will have an opportunity to help gather water samples from the length of the Gallatin River and its significant tributaries. To obtain a clear picture of the problem, we will begin by sampling four times between September 2015 and June 2016, with continuing efforts in the years to come.

Once we’ve determined what types of plastic are in the Gallatin River and where they’re entering, we will work with our partners—among them local NGOs, businesses and government—to stop it. 

The Gallatin Microplastics Initiative is an extension of the ASC Worldwide Microplastics Project, in which we’ve found microplastic pollution nearly everywhere in oceans. This spring we expanded the research into freshwater ecosystems worldwide, following plastic particles upstream. The local initiative is a targeted attempt to further understand this issue. 

Info Session 
To learn more, join 
us at Lockhorn 
Cider House (21 S. Wallace Ave., Bozeman) on July 21 at 6 p.m., or visit

ASC is recruiting both paddlers and hikers to gather samples.


(Photos by Jenna Walenga)

We will implement the data as a direct catalyst for change, using it to inform consumers and regulators, and to encourage corporate responsibility.

Bozeman, Big Sky and beyond: Let’s work together to keep the Gallatin clear! We can’t do this without you.

Supporters & Partners 

The Gallatin Microplastics Initiative is supported by grants from Patagonia, the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation, the Geo Family Foundation and the Norcross Wildlife Foundation. 

Our local partners include the Gallatin River Task Force, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Gallatin Local Water Quality District and the Montana Water Center.

You can donate to ASC through 1% for the Planet, AmazonSmile or directly


The Gallatin River from above (Photo by Emily Stifler Wolfe)

Learn more about the Gallatin Microplastics Initiative and other ASC projects on our website
the Field Notes blog, and our FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+ pages.