|Friday, April 14th|
Wease Bollman, Rhithron Associates, Inc.
The upper reaches of Elk Creek, Granite County, Montana, have been placer mined for more than 100 years. Recent efforts at restoring trout habitat in these reaches included reconstruction of portions of the stream channel, resulting in improved morphology, the return of surface flows in some areas, and introduction of riparian vegetation to denuded streambanks. Prior to reconstruction, In this study, biotic health of these reaches of Elk Creek was evaluated. A comparison of benthic macroinvertebrate communities and bioassessment metrics between reconstructed and control sites was made over three years, using a battery of bioassessment metrics shown to be reliable indicators of anthropogenic impacts.
For reconstructed sites, time to recovery was demonstrated, where recovery was defined as achievement of bioassessment scores equivalent to those of control sites. Even after recovery of reconstructed sites, all sites continued to show improvement in biotic health. Continued improvement may have been due to facilitation of macroinvertebrate colonization from upstream sites, made possible by the restoration of surface flow throughout the studied reaches.
Amy Clinefelter, University of Montana, Missoula
Chamberlain Creek, a small tributary to the Blackfoot River, has been subject to the typical disturbance regime of small western, mountain streams. It has been impacted by improper cattle management, dewatering, irrigation diversions, road building, and timber harvesting. In 1988 the Blackfoot Challenge was formed with a mission of preserving and restoring the cold water fishery of the Blackfoot River. Restoration projects have focused on tributaries to the river, and the fishery has responded. There are increased numbers of westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout, both species of concern. Restoration efforts on Chamberlain Creek include water leasing, improved fish passage, and instream restoration. The Blackfoot restoration project is a large scale, cooperative effort with clear objectives, a long-term approach, landowner involvement, and post project monitoring.
Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Private landowers, conservation groups and government agencies have teamed up to restore and conserve the Blackfoot River Watershed. Marvel at their efforts and achievements featured on the web at the Blackfoots Project Website.