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By Ryen Neudecker
Project Coordinator, Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited 

Restoration work completed on Poorman Creek

A Place for All

 

October 28, 2021

Ryen Neudecker, BBCTU

Existing undersized culvert (left) on Poorman Creek was replaced with a new bridge on Stemple Pass Road.

2021 in the Blackfoot River Valley proved to be another busy and productive project season collaborating with our many state, federal and private partners. This year we focused in the upper Blackfoot watershed near Lincoln on an important native trout stream-Poorman Creek. This high priority stream supports westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout and has strong potential to support spawning which will in turn provide more recruitment of trout to the upper Blackfoot River. We implemented two important projects aimed at benefiting trout by restoring habitat and reconnecting migration corridors.

Our first project involved working with Lewis & Clark County, US Forest Service, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks and US Fish and Wildlife Service to upgrade an undersized culvert that was blocking fish from moving upstream during high flow periods. The existing pipe was removed and then a new bridge was installed.

Not all culverts are bad but when they aren't sized to accommodate the range of flows within a stream, they can act as a barrier for trout trying to move upstream. Radio telemetry studies in the Blackfoot River have documented trout swimming over 90 miles to get to their spawning areas, so ensuring open corridors for fish to move freely is an important part of our mission.

Our second project was a large stream restoration project involving nearly two-miles of habitat on the lower reaches of Poorman Creek. Historic impacts had degraded the channel and streambank erosion data revealed that over 400 tons of dirt was eroding from the banks every year. This equates to over 40 dump truck loads washing downstream! This sediment smothers spawning gravels which impacts the survival rates of young trout.

Ryen Neudecker, BBCTU

Swan Valley Connections students collecting willows to be used in stream restoration projects.

TNT Excavating out of Ovando did the restoration work and constructed the new stream banks using pulp wood from local loggers and willows harvested by Greenwing Restoration and some dedicated volunteers. Students from Lincoln High School and Swan Valley Connections Landscape and Livelihood class visited the project site where we talked about native trout, conservation, careers and restoration techniques.

As with all of these projects, it takes a collaborative effort and we are always so appreciative of all the private landowners willing to do these projects and for all the organizations and agencies that have stepped up ensuring these projects move forward including: Montana DEQ, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Trout Unlimited, WestSlope Trout Unlimited and many other partners.

To be notified of specifics, volunteer opportunities or to support our programs, find us on Facebook or send an email to Ryen Neudecker @ ryen@montanatu.org. BBCTU truly appreciates all of your support and interest.

 

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