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
Elk Creek Before -- blown out corner, downcut area, braided channel, area bulldozed
Elk Creek with old diversion.
Lower corner "blow-out"
Elk Creek After -- vortex rock
weirs; resloped point bar; new, repaired, and stabilized corners; new headgate.
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
- Host a landowner workshop for over 100
- Trust species benefitted:
- Bald eagles
- Neotropical Migrant Songbirds
- Rainbow and Brown Trout
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Missouri River Flyfishers
Last Change Audubon Society
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service