Innovate Montana News Headquarters

Mike Sprague

Trout Headwaters, Inc

There are times when the facts about clean, fresh water’s crucial role in our society - and its relative scarcity- can feel daunting.  But, ultimately, this is the type of challenge that inspires true creativity and problem solving from Montana’s entrepreneurs.  Mike Sprague and his colleagues at Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI) are exactly the type of problem-solvers that can help tackle a major issue like sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair; ensuring Montana’s top industries like agriculture have the resources they need to thrive in the future.

Mike Sprague was bringing a passion for improving the way our society dealt with, and treated, water resources to the table when he founded THI in 1996.  Having grown up in western Massachusetts, Mike had seen first-hand the damage that resulted from failing to safeguard rivers, streams, and wetlands.

“We could be doing this work from anywhere, really, but we choose Montana because it provides the quality of life that matters to our team members. The people that work for us are incredibly talented and incredibly hard-working…and they get great fulfillment from nature, the great outdoors we have here right in our backyards. Honestly, at this point I can’t imagine ever leaving Montana.”

“I grew up near the Millers River, and by the time I was a child this river and most through the region were so polluted that they supported no life …that was a big wake-up call that we need to do better with this resource.”

When Mike made the move to Montana a couple decades later, he found himself surrounded by the resource he felt such a strong commitment to protecting, furthering his sense of personal responsibility.  He also had a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Communication from the University of Missouri under his belt. 

For a journalism and communications major to start what is now one of the more successful river, stream, and wetland restoration companies took a team of skilled scientists and technicians.

“My goal has always been to make the connections between the sometimes very technical sciences of restoration, the policy and environmental regulations, the stakeholders, and most importantly, the investors.  If all the parties can’t ‘speak a common language’ nothing is going to get done.”

Today, THI is both a leader in applied restoration and a force in environmental communications. As one of the most established firms in the restoration industry they’ve pioneered approaches to repairing riparian areas that use natural materials and native vegetation; using a “first, do no harm” approach to reliably replace more invasive treatments which actually damage streams and rivers.  THI also acts as an advisor to government and agencies, provides support to industry through various non-profits, and works to create value for investors across the U.S.

THI’s brand of communication and advocacy approach loops back to a scientific approach: they consistently use (and encourage others to use) assessment and monitoring tools so they can be sure that the work they’re doing has a tangible, positive impact on the environment.

THI has done work across the country and is now initiating projects abroad, but Mike and his team choose to be in Montana because of the access they have to the resources that enhance their lives personally and professionally:

“We could be doing this work from anywhere, really, but we choose Montana because it provides the quality of life that matters to our team members.  The people that work for us are incredibly talented and incredibly hard-working…and they get great fulfillment from nature, the great outdoors we have here right in our backyards.  Honestly, at this point I can’t imagine ever leaving Montana.”

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Author: cg0137 STATE
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Categories: Entrepreneur ProfilesNumber of views: 1973

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