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Monture Creek

Location map for Monture Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Monture Creek, a 4th order tributary stream to the middle Blackfoot River, originates in a roadless watershed bordering the western and southern edges of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It flows 24 miles, entering the Blackfoot River at river mile 44.2. Its base flow measured 44.2 cfs at stream mile 0.4 on August 8, 1989.   After leaving the mountains, the lower reaches of Monture Creek meander in a slightly entrenched channel confined by knob-and-kettle topography. Monture Creek is a laterally moving sand, gravel and cobble bottom stream, characterized by riffle/pool habitat typical of a C4 Rosgen stream type. Rates of lateral movement are largely a function of riparian vegetation for this stream type.

Land uses along Monture Creek consist primarily of livestock production. Much of the riparian area in lower Monture Creek has been cleared, grazed intensively or damaged by livestock wintering; many of the large conifers from the lower riparian area have been harvested. These activities have impacted stream banks and reduced stream complexity in the lower 7 miles of the stream. In order to prioritize restoration resources, we developed a fisheries-based restoration priority scorecard, based on biological, social and financial considerations, for 83 impaired tributaries of the Blackfoot River. Monture Creek ranked 1 of 83 streams surveyed.

Monture Creek before restoration
Before restoration.
Monture Creek after restoration
After restoration.

From 1990 to 1998, riparian livestock management improvements have been implemented on 9.3 miles of the mainstem of Monture Creek including 6 miles of bull trout spawning and staging areas.  This represents 80% of the mainstem located on private lands.  In 1997, a cooperative stream restoration project, focusing on the placement of large woody debris, was completed for two sections of stream totaling over three miles of channel.

Monture Creek with log vane structure installed
Log vane structure that provides
in-stream habitat and reduces bank erosion.
J Hook.jpg (23969 bytes)
Log J-hook vane.

Project monitoring focuses on three types of information:

1) stream habitat surveys, focusing on instream woody debris placement

bar graph showing woody debris above and below the highway increasing in the treated area

2) bull trout redd counts

bar graph showing bull trout redds increasing from 1989 to 2001

3) juvenile bull trout monitoring at 5 long-term sampling locations

bar graph showing an increase in juvenile bull trout catch from 1994 to 1998

In 1999, a mark-recapture fish population survey was established in lower Monture Creek. The sample was divided into two sections:  an upstream section which had received no restoration activities other than livestock management improvement and an adjoining downstream section which received livestock management improvements and habitat restoration through the instream placement of large woody debris. Separate finclips were used to identify fish for each section. Total trout densities in the upstream control section were 60 fish/1,000 feet compared to 106 fish/1,000 feet in the downstream restored section. The combined densities of native fish were approximately three times higher in the restored section compared to the unrestored section.

In the fall of 1999, following the initial survey, we completed the restoration of the upstream section; this project included riparian fencing and instream woody debris placement. Before this project, the frequency of instream large woody debris in the untreated reach was 6.1 large woody stems/1,000 feet compared to 18.1 stems/1,000 feet in the lower treated reach. The population survey, for both sections combined, estimated a total trout density of 95.7 fish/1,000 feet for 2001 compared to 73.9 fish/1,000 feet in 1999. Bull trout numbers increase from 22 fish/1,000 feet in 1999 to 54 fish/1,000 feet in 2001.

Bull trout use Monture Creek as a migration corridor, pre-spawning/staging area, spawning, rearing and thermal refuge.  Radio-tagged bull trout migrate an average 50 miles from the Blackfoot River to previously known spawning areas, and remain for nearly three months before spawning in late September.  One radio-tagged bull trout spawned in Monture Creek three consecutive years.  Because it was 28 inches when it received its transmitter, it is likely it had also spawned in previous years.

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