Montana Freshwater Partners is working to enhance and preserve the vitality and resilience of Montana’s aquatic resources.
Our Unique Approach
Montana Freshwater Partners is uniquely positioned to bring people together and make a lasting impact — we occupy a rare space between traditional nonprofits, governmental organizations, and private interests. Through financial incentives, land trades, and more, we work hard to find paths forward that serve the interests of all stakeholders, while upholding the natural health, integrity, function, and abundance of our aquatic habitats.
Rivers, streams, and wetlands represent what we love most about Montana — flowing and trickling through mountains, forests, plains, and canyons, abundant with life and energy. They are the pride — and lifeblood — of Big Sky Country.
80% of all life passes through river corridors — flora, fauna, and microorganisms all depend on access to riparian areas for food, shelter, migration routes, or breeding grounds. The roles of these aquatic habitats are as varied as the land use on their earthen, rocky, and willowed banks — from irrigating crops and supplying municipal water, to providing whitewater thrills for recreationists. Some are blue-ribbon trout streams, known worldwide for its productive waters. Others are home to abundant paddlefish, walleye, and smallmouth bass entice anglers. Wetlands offer critical habitat for Montana’s native plants and wildlife, as well as many migratory bird species.
But for many, the allure of these waters goes deeper than statistics, or monetary value, or even recreation. We are drawn to their vitality — their many seasons and moods. Part of their beauty is a dynamic nature and mercurial life force. In a thousand small ways, from the mists on the waters at dawn, to watching fish come alive in a hatch at sunset, from the tall, golden cottonwoods that proudly flag riverbanks and hidden springs, to the snow-capped peaks and sandstone cliffs visible in the distance, from laughter shared with friends and family, to the stillness and peace in those moments when the natural beauty of these places catches the breath in our chest — this is what we love about where we live. Through these rivers, streams, and wetlands, we’re reminded of the best parts of ourselves — who we want to be.
Meet the people behind Montana
The hardworking staff and committed board members at Montana Freshwater Partners have decades of expertise in uniquely relevant backgrounds. We are engineers, ecologists and geologists, investors and landscape architects. We are also inspired by a love for life on the river: fishing, birding, floating, and enjoying Montana’s diversity of outdoor pursuits. Montana Freshwater Partners is a collaborative of passionate professionals and individuals, united behind the common purpose of protecting our shared waters. The work we do and success we achieve is only possible thanks to our many engaged, supportive partner organizations. Our office is located just blocks away from the Yellowstone River, in Livingston, Montana.
Wendy is a licensed professional civil engineer with over 20 years in land development, water, wastewater infrastructure, and water resource design. She is a member of the Montana State University (MSU) Civil Engineering Advisory Committee, and serves as a Professional Mentor of MSU Engineers Without Borders, working to bring clean water and sanitation to elementary schools in rural Kenya. She has also worked as a consultant with the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Stillwater Mine on their Good Neighbor Agreement, which was developed between the community and the mine to protect the area’s quality of life, agricultural land and water.
Wendy strongly believes in protecting and enhancing Montana’s valuable water resources, and promoting landscape resiliency. More often than not, she can be found on or near water.
Jeannette brings over 20 years of wetland science and regulatory experience to the Montana Freshwater Partners project management team, as well as an excitement for preserving and restoring Montana’s aquatic resources. Her areas of expertise include terrestrial and aquatic habitat related projects providing impact planning, habitat assessment, restoration/mitigation, and permitting/regulatory support for the energy, transportation, government, and private business sectors. Prior to joining Montana Freshwater Partners, Jeannette was a senior environmental scientist and project manager for many years in the private sector; and most recently was the senior permitting/regulatory specialist for the Energy Research Institute at Montana State University.
Jeanette has called Livingston, Montana home for the last 17 years, and when she’s not working, you can usually find Jeannette out hiking, skiing, gardening, camping, or spending time on the mighty Yellowstone River.
Leah has a background in wildlife biology and freshwater ecology with a decade of experience working for university, federal, state, and nonprofit employers. Her areas of expertise include monitoring, data analysis, project management, and working with diverse partners. She earned her master’s degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana where she researched the ability of created mitigation wetlands to support native amphibian and invertebrate communities. Prior to joining Montana Freshwater Partners, Leah worked as a lab manager for the University of Montana, coordinating a long-term study of stream salamander populations in headwater streams in New Hampshire. In her free time, you can usually find Leah exploring Montana’s public lands on foot, skis, and boats.
Finance & Administration Manager
Lori draws from 20 years of professional financial expertise, ranging from Controller of a financial institution to owning her own business. Lori has a certificate in bookkeeping and accounting, is a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor, and is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Lori grew up on the Great Lakes in Ohio and has lived in Montana for 22 years. In her free time you can find her hiking with her dog Willie, floating the Yellowstone River, or relaxing with a good book.
Ashton is a freshwater ecologist with over a decade of work experience researching and restoring stream ecosystems working for state, private, Tribal and nonprofit entities. Her areas of expertise include fish biology, stream ecology, habitat assessment, project management, outreach, environmental compliance and grant writing. She earned her master’s degree in biology at Central Washington University, where her thesis research focused on the habitat use of threatened bull trout. Before joining Montana Freshwater Partners, Ashton worked as a project manager in eastern Washington, restoring aquatic habitat for struggling salmon and trout populations. Outside of work, she enjoys fishing, hiking, hunting, and rafting.
Marketing and Communications Director
With over a decade long career as a professional fly fishing guide and business owner, KynsLee has successfully founded a nonprofit for guides, planned many large events and fundraisers, and developed a conservation podcast for Montanans For Healthy Rivers.
As a sixth generation Montanan, KynsLee is a passionate conservationist and a well respected figure in the fly fishing industry. She currently shares her time between Montana and Washington State.