WET was hired by the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GGTU) to provide technical oversight and project management of a large scale restoration project in the German Gulch watershed. The project was administered with a grant from the Natural Resources Damage Program (NRDP). German Gulch is home to a population of native westslope cutthroat trout (WCT). As a genetically pure population, these fish are the ideal seed stock for the eventual re-population of a restored Silver Bow Creek. Also, German Gulch was heavily mined over the past century. The streambed, riparian, and upland areas suffered extensive damage from this activity.
A key goal of the restoration project was to maintain in-stream flows and connectivity to Silver Bow Creek so German Gulch could provide temperature refugia for the WCT during low flow periods. In order to maintain in-stream flows during low flow periods, a German Gulch water rights owner agreed to leave water in German Gulch that was typically diverted for irrigation in exchange for construction of irrigation wells that would replace the irrigation water. WET successfully designed and constructed two irrigation wells that provided sufficient volume to replace the irrigation water from German Gulch. Tasks included geological and hydrogeological evaluations, drilling and testing a test well, aquifer modeling, permitting, and well construction oversight. The project was successful and German Gulch now maintains temperature refugia and connectivity to Silver Bow Creek which has benefited the fishery.