The Gallatin River carries the mountain toward the sea. It carries our communities and our livelihoods. It carries our stories and dreams. And this river also carries something more ominous in its waters: Our garbage.
Upper Missouri Waterkeeper is partnering with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) to understand microplastics in headwaters, starting with the Gallatin River! This project came about after an ASC pilot survey of five sites along the Gallatin River found microplastic particles in every sample, some in startlingly high numbers.
The Gallatin Microplastics Initiative will study the abundance and types of microplastics in the Gallatin Watershed, and as the first freshwater microplastics study ever conducted, it will help future guide future freshwater research!
During the project’s first phase, we will survey more than 50 sites in the main Gallatin and its tributaries four times in a year. The information gathered will help us understand the extent of the problem and how to take steps toward solving it.
Microplastics are a growing environmental issue, and also a potential threat to human health. These tiny plastic particles attract toxins including DDT and BPA, which enter the food chain when the particles are ingested by aquatic life such as Montana’s prize trout!
Since early 2013, ASC ocean adventurers have collected surface water samples from every ocean to research this pollution. The vast majority of the samples collected were contaminated with plastic debris.
For this reason, research was expanded to fresh water worldwide in 2015, starting with the Gallatin Initiative as a targeted effort to create change in the headwaters of the largest watershed in the lower 48 states.
Want to learn more about micro plastics? Visit Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation’s website by clicking here.