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1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Upper Columbia Conservation Commission (UC3)

Upper Columbia Conservation Commission Established to Protect Western Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species Threats 

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In response to the invasive mussel detections in two Montana waterways in 2016, the 2017 Legislature established the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission (UC3) to enhance early detection and rapid response efforts through increased coordination with water management agencies within the Columbia River Basin in Montana, as well as provincial and state partners in the basin.

The purpose of the UC3 is to protect the aquatic environment in tributaries to the Columbia river from the threat of aquatic invasive species. Through cooperative efforts, the UC3 is tasked with monitoring the condition of aquatic resources in the tributaries to the Columbia river by providing coordination on response and detection efforts.

“Ensuring our early detection monitoring programs are coordinated and comprehensive, as well as preparing for an emergency response to an AIS detection will be the focus of the group,” said Tom Woolf, Montana’s Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau Chief. “The Columbia River Basin is the largest watershed in the lower 48 that doesn’t have mussels and Montana is working hard to to keep it that way.”


The Upper Columbia Conservation Commission (UC3) was created to protect the aquatic environment in tributaries to the Columbia river from the threat of invasive species. Through cooperative efforts, the UC3 is tasked with monitoring the condition of aquatic resources in the tributaries to the Columbia river by providing coordination on response and detection efforts.

The following individuals  have been appointed by Governor Bullock to serve on the commission:

  • Lori Curtis, Whitefish. UC3 Chair. Qualification: representative of conservation districts. Curis is the Flathead Conservation District Supervisor and the director of science and education at the Whitefish Lake Institute.  
  • Dennis Clairmont, Pablo. Qualification: representative of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Clairmont represents the Pablo District on the CSKT Tribal Council.
  • Mike Koopal, Whitefish. Qualification: member-at-large. Koopal is the Executive Director of the Whitefish Lake Institute.
  • Paul Kusnierz, Noxon. Qualification: representative of the hydropower utility industry. Kusnierz is a fisheries biologist at Avista Utilities.
  • Tom Woolf, Helena. Qualification: representative of the Invasive Species Council. Woolf is the Chief of the Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
  • Phil Matson, Columbia Falls. Qualification: representative of private landowners in the Upper Columbia Basin. Matson is a research specialist at the Flathead Biological Station. 
  • Brian 'BJ' Johnson, Kalispell. Qualification: representative of recreation organizations. Johnson is the owner and lead guide for 'Sea Me Paddle' kayaking tours. 
  • Chris Parrott, Kalispell. Qualification: representative of private industry. Parrott is the general manager for Jesco Marine. 
  • Stacey Schnebel, Coram. Qualification: representative of electric cooperatives in the Upper Columbia basin. Schnebel is on the board of the Flathead Electric Co-op and also represents the Flathead Electric Co-op and the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association.  


The 2019 Legislature passed a bill (SB257) that created five new seats for voting UC3 members to better represent the unique geography of the Upper Columbia Basin and its stakeholders. Applications are currently under review for representatives of natural resource/conservation or hunting/angling organizations from the following areas: the Upper/Middle Clark Fork River Basin; the Bitterroot River Basin; the Swan-Blackfoot River Basins; the Kootenai River Basin; and the Lower Clark Fork River Basin. The Flathead River Basin seat is occupied by a previously-appointed member. 

The Senate Bill also provided for additional legislators to serve in an ex-officio (non-voting) capacity on the Commission. They currently include: 

In addition to the above appointed members, a number of federal agencies serve in an ex-officio role on the Commission, including the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, and the US Forest Service. All meetings are open to the public. Executive Committee meetings (Chair, Vice-Chair and staff) are held every 2nd Wednesday at 9:00 AM (date/time subject to change based on availability). 



Oct 4 2017 Minutes


Jan 24 2018 Agenda

Jan 24 Meeting Minutes

March 14 2018 Agenda

March 14 2018 Minutes

June 13 2018 Agenda

June 13 2018 Minutes

2018-2019 UC3 Annual Report

September 26 2018 Agenda

September 26, 2018 Minutes 

December 12, 2018 Agenda

December 12, 2018 Minutes

February 19, 2019 Monitoring Meeting

February 20, 2019 Agenda/Minutes

Date:          Oct 7, 2019

Time:          TBD  
Location:    DNRC Forestry Division
                   2705 Spurgin Rd
                   Missoula, MT
                   Agenda To Come 

Executive Committee Meetings

Calls are held bi-weekly (every other Wednesday) at 9 AM to share information and conduct business between meetings. The Executive Committee is comprised of the Chair, Vice Chair and staff. 

Please contact Kate Wilson ( for more information or if you are interested in participating. Meeting dates/times are subject to change based on availability. 

Contact Us:

Kate Wilson, Commission Administrator