Completed Projects

Wolf Creek Fish Ladder

Rock barrier at Wolf Creek

Problem: On the lower end of Wolf Creek, an important feeder and spawning stream for the Missouri near the town of Wolf Creek, fish eager to get upstream were blocked by a rock barrier constructed to bring water under the road to a small irrigation project. Rainbows collected in a small pool at the base of the barrier and leapt up onto the rocks in frustration.

Fish ladder at Wolf Creek

Solution: Biologist George Liknes and Future Fisheries coordinator Mark Lere, employees of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, teamed up with the Fund to design and build a fish ladder. Now, Rainbows jump between the stepped pools to get to the upstream reaches of Wolf Creek. During the spring of 2001, Liknes saw many healthy Rainbows traveling up and over this ladder in their spawning runs.

Yellowstone River Bank Revegetation

Rocks dumped along Yellowstone channel

Problem: A local irrigation ditch company, while deepening a stream channel to capture more irrigation flow from the river, dumped gravel and rocks on the banks, covering riparian grasses, bushes, and trees. A resident at the site reported the damage to the Army Corp of Engineers and the EPA, and the agencies directed the ditch company owners to remove the debris and rehabilitate the destroyed banks and bankside vegetation.

Volunteer planting seedlings

Solution: The Fund helped replace the crushed vegetation. Working under the direction of Aquatic Design and Construction, Inc., a local firm, Fund volunteers planted a 12-foot swath along the bank with 1800 native willow cuttings and 400 wood rose, snowberry, and dogwood shrubs. The bank was watered during the hot summer months and, while we expect some losses, most of the native plants should take root and start to revegetate and anchor the newly-landscaped banks.

Big Hole River Use Survey

Angler fishing on Big Hole river

Problem:The Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks had no specific recreational use data for this blue-ribbon stream, only estimated angler-days. Distinct segments of the recreation community had to be identified and their individual use levels quantified.

Solution: In 1999, the Fund joined with DFWP, local recreation groups, and the Big Hole River Foundation to sponsor an on-stream survey during the popular summer months to establish a baseline of use patterns.

Milltown Dam Removal

Milltown Dam on the Clarks Fork river

Problem: Milltown Dam blocks the Clarks Fork river at its junction with the Blackfoot river near Missoula, Montana, halting the spawning runs of native Bull and Cutthroat trout. The dam pool also holds some seven million cubic yards of sediment contaminated with heavy metals washed downstream from the Butte copper mines for over fifty years.

Solution:The Fund contributed to the Clark Fork Coalition's public information and media campaign urging the EPA to remove the dam and sediments.

April 15, 2003 - EPA Proposes Silt and Milltown Dam be Removed!
Use the link above to contact the Clark Fork Coalition for details on the proposal, then find out how YOU can help in this critical project.

Locke Creek Spawning Habitat

Headgate on Locke Creek

Problem: Two small irrigation headgates block passage for spawning Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, and siltation has covered gravel spawning beds along the slow-moving creek. The landowner is very conservation-minded and has looked for suitable solutions for several years. The Fund has joined with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to complete this project.

Restored banks on Locke Creek

Solution: The headgates were replaced by "stair-step" fish ladders and several small plunge pools now line the once-silted channel. The steep banks were graded to a lesser slope, willow stubs planted and mesh laid down to hold the newly-seeded grasses in place. This spring, fish were seen working their way up the stairs, ready to seek out new spawning territory and increase their population.

Projects Underway

Smith River Irrigation Wells

Raft floating on Smith river

Problem: Newly-approved supplemental irrigation wells along the Smith River reduce the existing groundwater supply and instream flow, leaving ranchers and anglers worried about decreasing water availability in the drainage.

Solution: The Fund joined with Montana Trout Unlimited to sponsor a hydrologist to prove these wells disturb the water-use balance and threaten a fabulous fishery.