U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo

Elk Creek Project

project location map state map with project location

The Elk Creek Project is one excellent example of riparian and stream restoration projects completed in the Rocky Mountain Front. Elk Creek, located in Lewis and Clark County, is also known as the South Fork of the Sun River. The problems for this stretch of Elk Creek consisted of an ineffective irrigation diversion structure and an eroding streambank. The erosion process accelerated each spring and was threatening a lateral irrigation ditch. The solution was to build a rock weir to provide reliable flows to an irrigation headgate and to allow fish passage.

Restoration Activities

Elk Creek Before
-- blown out corner, downcut area, braided channel, area bulldozed annually.

Elk Creek with old diversion photo
Elk Creek with old diversion.
Elk Creek before restoration
Lower corner "blow-out"
before construction.
Elk Creek "before" diagram

Elk Creek After -- vortex rock weirs; resloped point bar; new, repaired, and stabilized corners; new headgate.

Blown out corner before restoration
Repaired corner.

Elk Creek after restoration
Elk Creek with new fish friendly

Elk Creek "after" diagram
   Aerial view of Elk Creek after project completion
Aerial view two days after construction
was completed - high water, no problems.

Demonstration Tour

Elk Creek demonstration tour With the assistance of the Natural Resources Conservation District and Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife, the Lewis and Clark Conservation District hosted a very successful demonstration tour and cookout on Elk Creek. Nearly 100 people attended an informative classroom session on stream mechanics, stream restoration, riparian management, fisheries enhancement, and project funding sources. The day-long workshop was punctuated by a cookout hosted by the Conservation District, and concluded with a two-hour field trip to look at the stream restoration project and then to the completed project. With perfect weather, excellent speakers, and solid funding, the Elk Creek Restoration Tour was a resounding success.

The workshop created an interest in five more potential projects on three different streams in Lewis and Clark County. Additionally, the project helped promote an inventory of Elk Creek and will add to the development of a watershed management and resource plan for the Sun River Watershed.


  • Restore 1,000 feet of Elk Creek
  • Install a fish-friendly stream irrigation diversion
  • Host a landowner workshop for over 100 people
  • Trust species benefitted:

-  Bald eagles
-  Waterfowl
-  Neotropical Migrant Songbirds
-  Rainbow and Brown Trout

Funding Partners

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Missouri River Flyfishers
Last Change Audubon Society
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Return to the Rocky Mountain Front Projects

Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Regional Partners for Fish & Wildlife Home Page
Mountain-Prairie Region
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service