Flathead River

Flathead River

Geobox River
name = Flathead River
native_name =
other_name =
other_name1 =

image_size = 300
image_caption = Middle Fork, near Essex, Montana
country = United States
country1 = Canada
state = Montana
state1 =
region_type = Province
region = British Columbia
region1 =
district =
district1 =
city =
city1 =
length_imperial = 240
length_note = [http://www.bartleby.com/69/10/F01610.html Flathead River] , The Columbia Gazetteer of North America]
watershed_imperial = 8795
watershed_note = [http://pubs.usgs.gov/wdr/2004/wdr-mt-04/ Montana Water Resources Data, 2004] , USGS]
discharge_location = near mouth, at Perma, MT
discharge_imperial = 11380
discharge_max_imperial = 53400
discharge_min_imperial = 2670
discharge_note =
discharge1_location =
discharge1_imperial =
source_name = North Fork Flathead River
source_location = Rocky Mountains
source_district =
source_region = British Columbia
source_state =
source_country =
source_lat_d = 49
source_lat_m = 19
source_lat_s = 56
source_lat_NS = N
source_long_d = 114
source_long_m = 51
source_long_s = 9
source_long_EW = W
source_coordinates_note = Gnis|788164|North Fork Flathead River, USGS, GNIS]
source_elevation_imperial = 7090
source_elevation_note = Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates]
mouth_name = Clark Fork
mouth_location =
mouth_district =
mouth_region =
mouth_state = Montana
mouth_country =
mouth_lat_d = 47
mouth_lat_m = 21
mouth_lat_s = 56
mouth_lat_NS = N
mouth_long_d = 114
mouth_long_m = 46
mouth_long_s = 34
mouth_long_EW = W
mouth_coordinates_note = Gnis|783518|Flathead River, USGS, GNIS]
mouth_elevation_imperial = 2484
mouth_elevation_note =
tributary_left =
tributary_left1 =
tributary_right = Beaver Creek
tributary_right1 = North Fork Crooked River
tributary_right2 = Ochoco Creek
free_name =
free_value =

map_size = 300
map_caption = Map of the Flathead River, its tributary forks and downriver connection to the Columbia River via Clark Fork and the Pend Oreille River.
The Flathead River is a tributary of Clark Fork in the U.S. state of Montana and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The river properly begins at the confluence of two tributaries, North Fork Flathead River and Middle Fork Flathead River. Downriver of the forks confluence the third fork joins, the South Fork Flathead River. The North Fork is the longest of the three and is sometimes considered part of the main Flathead River.

The river is part of the Columbia River basin, being a tributary of Clark Fork, which is tributary to Pend Oreille Lake and the Pend Oreille River, which is tributary to the Columbia River.

Portions of the three forks of the Flathead River, South, Middle, and North, are designated National Wild and Scenic River.


North Fork Flathead River

The North Fork Flathead River originates in southeastern British Columbia, in the Clark Range, part of the Rocky Mountains. It flows east, collecting various headwater tributaries, then south, entering Montana just west of Glacier National Park. The river forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park.

In Montana the river continues to flow south, between the Whitefish Range and Salish Mountains to the west and, to the east, the Livingston Range, Lewis Range, Flathead Range, Swan Range. The North Fork Flathead River collects tributaries including Kintla Creek, Whale Creek, Bowman Creek, Quartz Creek, Coal Creek, Camas Creek, and Big Creek, before joining the Middle Fork Flathead River, near Coram, Montana, to form the Flathead River proper.

The North Fork Flathead River in Montana is designated a National Wild and Scenic River. The river is not afforded any protection in British Columbia. This has been the subject of thirty-years of dispute between the United States and Canada. In 1988 the International Joint Commission, ruled that a proposed open pit coal mine would violate the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty.

Energy development continues to threatened the North Fork, which was deemed the 'wildest river in the contintential United States' by the New York Times in 2004. On February 21, 2008 BP announced to drop plans to obtain drilling rights for coalbed methane extraction in the river's headwaters. However, the "Cline Mining Corporation" still intends to start a mountaintop-removal coal mining project. [Flathead Beacon: " [http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/coalbed_methane/2408/ BP Drops Coal-Bed Methane Exploration Project North of Glacier Park] ", February 22, 2008]

Middle Fork Flathead River

The Middle Fork Flathead River originates in Flathead County, Montana with several headwater streams draining the western side of the Continental Divide. It flows generally northwest, collecting tributaries including Ole Creek, Nyack Creek, and McDonald Creek, before joining the North Fork Flathead River, near West Glacier, Montana, forming the Flathead River proper.

Much of the Middle Fork is designated a National Wild and Scenic River. It drains parts of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Great Bear Wilderness of Flathead National Forest. Its lower reach borders on the southern edge of Glacier National Park.

South Fork Flathead River

The South Fork Flathead River originates in Powell County, Montana with the joining of several headwater streams, including Gordon Creek, Danaher Creek, and Youngs Creek. The river flows generally north and northwest, collecting tributaries including the White River, Big Salmon Creek, Little Salmon Creek, Gorge Creek, Spotted Bear Creek, and Sullivan Creek. Much of the upper South Fork lies within the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Flathead National Forest.

Hungry Horse Dam impounds the lower portion of the South Fork in a reservoir called Hungry Horse Reservoir. A few miles below the dam, the South Fork empties into the main Flathead River, near Hungry Horse, Montana.

Flathead River

The main Flathead River, formed by the confluence of the North Fork and Middle Fork, flows generally south. The South Fork Flathead River joins just a few miles below the North and Middle Forks confluence. The river flows by the cities of Columbia Falls and Kalispell. Tributaries of this section of the river include the Whitefish River and its tributary the Stillwater River.

A few miles south of Kalispell, the Flathead River empties into the north end of Flathead Lake. Tributaries that flow into the lake include the Swan River.

The Flathead River exits the south end of the lake, near Polson, Montana. Within a few miles the river is impounded by Kerr Dam. Although a natural lake, Flathead Lake is used as a reservoir and its capacity and water releases are controlled by Kerr Dam.

Below the dam, the Flathead River flows generally south, through the Flathead Indian Reservation, collecting tributaries including the Little Bitterroot River, Crow Creek, Mission Creek, and Jocko River. This section of the river flows between the Salish Mountains on the west and the Mission Mountains on the east.

Below the Jocko River confluence, the Flathead River turns west, flowing through the Salish Mountains to join the Clark Fork river near Paradise, Montana. [Course info mainly from: cite book | title = Montana Atlas & Gazetteer | edition = 4th | year = 2001 | publisher = DeLorme | isbn = 0-89933-339-7 ]


Fur traders employed by the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company entered the Flathead Valley in the early 1800s. Trading posts were established north of Flathead Lake. The first settlers began arriving in the 1860s. Irrigation agriculture began in the 1880s. [ [http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/hhorse.html Hungry Horse Project] , United States Bureau of Reclamation]

See also

* List of rivers of Montana
* Montana Stream Access Law
* Montana Wilderness Association
* Tributaries of the Columbia River


External links

* http://www.nwcouncil.org/fw/subbasinplanning/flathead/plan/FH%20Assessment.pdf

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