A Narrative History of the Montana Heritage Project

An Environmental History of the Flathead Lake Ecosystem

Chris Briske
Judy Doyle

Ronan High School


Students in Ronan studied changes in the Flathead Lake ecosystem over the past 100 years. They looked at the changes caused by population growth and the building of Kerr Dam, and examined the historical record in regard to levels of dissolved oxygen and fecal coliform in the water. They traveled to the Yellow Bay Biological Station, operated by the University of Montana, to learn how to take readings of pH balance, temperature, turbidity, phytoplankton, zooplankton, nitrates and total solids.

They also graphed the populations of bald eagles, opossum shrimp, cladocera, kokanee salmon, whitefish, bull trout and lake trout. Students concluded that so far the water quality of Flathead Lake is good. It has plenty of dissolved oxygen, zooplankton and low fecal coliform. However, the nitrates and fecal coliform levels have gone up in the last few years, and students concluded that if these trends continue, the growth of algae will be greater causing the surface of the lake to “become green, slimy and not fun to play in.”

To print a final report for the year-end binder, click here.
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2000 Montana Heritage Project
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