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Kleinschmidt Creek

Location map for Kleinschmidt Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Kleinschmidt Creek is a 2.6 mile spring creek tributary to Rock Creek, entering immediately above the Rock Creek confluence with the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. This stream drains the southern portion of Kleinschmidt Flat, and flows west before joining Rock Creek. Base flows at the mouth of Kleinschmidt Creek are approximately 15 cfs.

Kleinschmidt Creek has a long history of intensive riparian grazing with very little regard for riparian health and channel stability. In addition to grazing, placement of rock dams and undersized culverts along with channelization further degraded and over-widened Kleinschmidt Creek. This stream, prior to restoration, supported very low numbers of brook, brown and cutthroat trout. 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. Kleinschmidt Creek is ranked 10 of 83 streams surveyed.

In 1991, a 1,200 foot section of lower Kleinschmidt Creek was the focus of a fishery restoration effort. The project included reconstruction of a E4 and C4 stream types and placement of large woody debris for instream habitat. Between 1997 and 2001 8,050 feet of degraded stream channel was restored to properly functioning C4 and E4 stream types.

Following reconstruction, channel sinuosity increased from 1.06 pre-project to 1.44 post-project, an increase of 36%. Pool frequency increased 517% from 2.4/1,000 feet pre-porject to 14.8/1,000 feet post-project. Mean wetted-width decreased from 31.2 feet before to 10.2 feet after. The ferquency of instream woody stems increased 1,089% from 1.9 to 22.6 stems/1,000 feet.

klein5.jpg (25026 bytes)
Before restoration.
klein4.jpg (28349 bytes)
Immediately after restoration.
Aerial photo of Kleinschmidt Creek
Aerial view of Kleinschmidt Creek prior
to restoration. Note the over-widened,
channelized stream lacking woody
riparian vegetation.
photo of Ron Pierce and landowners Ron Pierce, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
meeting with landowners to discuss the
impacts of an undersized culvert on their field
road. This culvert was removed and replaced
with a bridge in 2000.

Four types of project monitoring are to be included in this project:

  • Pre- and post project habitat surveys
  • Fish population response to habitat restoration
  • Temperature studies
  • Pre-and post project whirling disease evaluations (sentinel fish cage studies plus macroinvertebrate including Tubifex tubifex sampling)

Return to the Project Location Map

Blackfoot Valley Watershed
Montana Partners for Fish and Wildlife
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Mountain-Prairie Region
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service