FLATHEAD LAKE – On the 60th anniversary of their organization’s founding, the Flathead Lakers presented their prestigious 2018 Stewardship Award to the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station at their annual meeting. The Stewardship Award was given in recognition of the Bio Station’s sustained and outstanding contributions to the protection of Flathead Lake and its watershed.

From left, FLBS Assistant Director Tom Bansak, Flathead Lakers President Steve Rosso, FLBS Director Jim Elser and former FLBS Director Dick Solberg gather for a photo after the Flathead Lake Biological Station was awarded the 2018 Flathead Lakers Stewardship Award. (UM Photo)

“We have a lot to be proud of here,” said FLBS Director Jim Elser. “This is a really big honor and reflects the dedication, hard work and commitment of so many at FLBS.”

Since 1899, FLBS has served as “Sentinel of the Lake.” In 1977, it instituted a scientifically rigorous monitoring program that as the first line of defense against current and future threats to the health and quality of the Flathead watershed. These threats range from aquatic invasive species – like zebra and quagga mussels – to nutrient and biological pollution from degraded shoreline septic systems.

“Certainly the leadership of Jack Stanford and Bonnie Ellis in establishing and maintaining the Flathead Monitoring Program was central,” Elser said. Stanford was FLBS director from 1980 to 2016. Ellis was a longtime research professor at the station who retired in 2014.

“The dedication of all FLBS staff and students over the years to doing great science and relating that science to our community is what this award acknowledges,” Elser said.

Flathead Lakers President Steve Rosso said it was an opportune time to recognize the impressive accomplishments of FLBS, and he reflected on the long partnership between the two organizations.

“We are very fortunate to have this exceptional research and education institution and its talented and collegial scientists and staff right here on Flathead Lake,” Rosso said. “Their research is the foundation for understanding our river and lake system and the natural resources they support.”

Research conducted at FLBS has been the informative force behind significant water quality conservation achievements, including the ban of phosphorus-containing detergents and the prevention of mining in the upper North Fork Flathead River. The long history of research and monitoring also has resulted in much scientific discovery and insight, cultivating one of the most robust ecological and water quality records in the world.

Formed in 1958, the Flathead Lakers is a nonprofit organization composed of Flathead-area residents who work to keep the lake clean and the local ecosystems healthy, as well as ensure a sustainable quality of life in the Flathead watershed. They provide leadership and support for the protection and improvement of water quality through advocacy, education and stewardship programs.

Learn more about FLBS at https://flbs.umt.edu/.