MSU has the re source s and know how to help the state solve re al world problems and pre serve its fisherie s and waterways By Michael Becker
ack in 2003, Montana State University trademarked a new nickname for itself, one that captured the essence of a whole slate of courses, programs and resources that have drawn students to the university for decades.
There was something fishy about the new nickname, but few seemed to mind.
They’re important problems to tackle, considering the tens of millions of dollars that fishing tourism brings into Montana each year, McMahon said. “People come from all over the world to fish Montana,” he said. “There’s a long legacy in Montana to protect the quality of those streams and rivers.”
According to McMahon, MSU’s partnerships with the state “Trout U,” as the university dubbed itself, is stuffed to the and federal agencies dedicated to managing Montana’s fisheries gills with a massive library collection of trout and salmon and waterways are just one of the things materials, the Montana Cooperative about the fisheries program that attracts Fisheries Research Unit, the Wild There was something fishy students. Trout Lab and more, including about the new nickname, research partnerships with the Big but few seemed to mind. Another draw is, of course, the waterways Sky Institute and Bozeman Fish themselves. Montana is a headwaters Technology Center. state. It’s water flows into both the At the heart of it, though, is the ecology department’s Fisheries Pacific and Atlantic oceans, as well as into the Saskatchewan and Wildlife Management Program. Founded in 1936, it’s one drainage, McMahon explained. And, of course, the state is of the oldest and most successful natural resource programs in home to a large number of blue-ribbon rivers and streams. the country. That means students can study a lot of fish, McMahon said, Professor Tom McMahon has been with the department for 21 from trout in the western part of the state to paddlefish and of those 70-plus years, performing research in applied fisheries. other species native to eastern Montana’s waters. The “applied” part of that research focus means McMahon helps fish and wildlife agencies at all levels of government solve real world problems, such as whirling disease, interactions between native and non-native trout and the effects of climate change on fish.
“We have developed a good reputation for producing goodquality students and helping agencies answer questions they need answered to manage their fisheries resources.”
Clockwise from left: Rainbow trout; waters and the Bridger Range north of Bozeman; tagging trout in the upper Clark Fork River are volunteer Collin Christianson (left, in grey), MSU ecology grad student Clint Smith (top, in green) and Mariah Mayfield. Photo courtesy of Mariah Mayfield; Researchers used this and other sentinel fish cages to study whirling disease in the Missouri River system. Photo courtesy of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Confluence College of Letters and Science 2011-2012
The College of Letters and Science annual magazine. This issue is titled "Learning in the Last Best Place."