The Smith River State Park and river corridor is one of Montanas premier river recreation destinations. In recent years, EPA Region 8, Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) and other state environmental and recreation entities have received concerns from the public regarding excess algae growth on the Smith River, and recent photos suggest algae may be reaching nuisance levels. Ongoing public inquiries highlight a need to better understand and document benthic algae conditions and the factors that influence them. However, access to a 59-mile stretch of the Smith River is limited as there is only one public put-in and one public take-out point and a permit is required to float it.
MDEQ has developed a mobile app to capture crowdsourced data to engage citizens in collecting information about benthic algae conditions on the Smith River during the 2018 float season. Recipients of Smith River float permits are intended users of this app. Users are asked to collect photos exhibiting algae conditions and link those photos with spatial and temporal information. Agencies can then use these data to map and characterize algae conditions over space and time, and to perform public outreach in response to this emerging water quality concern. MDEQ is proposing this new and innovative citizen science and crowdsourcing project as a trial component of Montanas volunteer monitoring program.