Butte, Montana

WET conducted stream restoration and aquatic monitoring in German Gulch, near Butte, Montana. The area was heavily impacted by historic placer mining.  German gulch is home to a native Westslope Cutthroat Trout population and serves as ideal seed stock for the eventual re-population of a restored Silver Bow Creek.  The project involved numerous permits including Montana Pollution Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) Permit, Section 404 Permit, 310 Permit, and 318 Authorization.

The project involved conducting a reference reach survey to verify restoration design parameters.  Stream restoration mimicked natural channel morphology, increased pool density to promote over-wintering habitat, increased the density of large woody debris, increased stream habitat complexity, restored channel planforms and bed morphology, and increased riparian vegetation through grazing control.

A fish screen installed on an irrigation head gate along with a water lease aimed at eliminating dewatering a portion of the channel aided in limiting fish loss down the irrigation system.  Significant analysis was conducted on the type of fish screen necessary to meet bypass flow requirements while staying within the irrigator’s water right limitations.  Monitoring activities, which evaluate the restoration’s effectiveness by measuring native fish populations and water quality, are ongoing.