History of UCLN

The Upper Columbia Lakes Network (UCLN), a new initiative funded by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), came about to support the UC3s AIS early detection effort. The UCLN provides an opportunity to engage lake groups and citizens in long-term water quality stewardship. Several lake monitoring groups exist in northwest Montana including the Northwest Montana Lakes Network (NMLN) through which citizen scientists monitor 41 lakes, and is a partnership between Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and the Whitefish Lake Institute. Blackfoot Challenge, Clearwater Resource Council, Swan Valley Connections, Flathead Lake Biological Station, Flathead Lakers, also run or support lake volunteer water quality and AIS monitoring programs at different levels.

Sophie Lake volunteer paddles to the mid lake water quality monitoring site.

The UCLN program aims to incorporate new partner groups, add to the volunteer base, and allow more high priority lakes that are not currently sampled to be monitored. The UCLN identifies interested groups within the region, provides equipment, and offers training for AIS monitoring and decontamination protocols.


Funding and Contract
The BOR funding supports a two-year contract with the Whitefish Lake Institute to administer the UCLN. 

Deliverables include:

  1. AIS Volunteer Monitoring and Identification Trainings:
    In order to increase consistency in water quality monitoring and AIS early detection sampling. WLI partners with FLBS and FWP on these volunteer trainings. Two trainings were held in 2019, and due to the pandemic, trainings have been one on one since 2020.
  2. Monitoring equipment to new and existing lake monitoring groups:
    We have assembled kits, each with a plankton net, sample bottles, 95% ethanol preservative, a Secchi disk, water thermometer, and a binder with background information, collection methods, and reporting directions.
  3. New website:
    This website serves as a central clearing house for protocols and AIS resources and will highlight and track monitoring efforts throughout the basin.

Upper Columbia River Basin Map



Plankton Tow Protocols document


Survey 123 data form_UCLN

Example and blank plankton tow bottle labels

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Lab Sample Submission Form


 Progress Reports 
Oct 2022
Oct 2021
Dec 2020


   What we’re collecting and why   
   AIS Montana