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Dry Creek

Location map for Dry Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Dry Creek, a second-order tributary stream, originates in Powell County on the Helena National Forest.  The stream flows through a V-shaped valley in the upper reaches before entering the moraine and alluvial outwash plains of Kleinschmidt Flat.   The stream flows 12 miles in a westerly direction to its confluence with Rock Creek and ultimately the North Fork of the Blackfoot River.  Base flows in Dry Creek vary from about 10 cfs below Salmon Creek to intermittent middle reach to a gaining lower stream reach that produces about 20 cfs.  Salmon Creek, the Cooper's Lake outlet stream, is the primary tributary to Dry Creek.

Intensive grazing over the past century has lead to unstable banks, lateral scouring, heavy sedimentation, sections of braided channel, and other negative impacts.   The stream has become wide and shallow with no quality pool habitat.   The present channel width is approximately  3-4 times too wide.  There is little evidence of any riparian vegetation or shrub communities.  A fish habitat inventory was completed on Dry Creek in 1994.  Riffles comprised the bulk of the stream surface area.  Glides and pools comprised an estimated 10% of the stream habitat.  The fishery in the headwaters is dominated by native westslope cutthroat trout, however, brook trout dominate the lower section in the worst condition.

In 1996, habitat restoration began in the Dry Creek system.  Three projects have been completed to date with focus on both grazing management and instream restoration.  The projects focused on restoring stream dimensions and habitat features to E4 and E6 channel types on 3.5 miles of Dry Creek.  Grazing management changes have occurred on the 3.5 miles of Dry Creek as well as 2,200 acres of surrounding uplands.  Several off-site water developments were installed as well as cross fences and riparian fences.

Dry Creek before restoration
Before look at improper riparian
management along Dry Creek.
Dry Creek after restoration
After look at the restored reach and
grazing management changes.

Closeup look at woody debris and shrub transplants in Dry Creek
Habitat features associated with the restoration
included adding large woody debris and shrub transplants.

Photo of a solar powered electric fence
A solar powered electric fence was
installed for a 900-acre grazing system
to protect two miles of riparian area
on Dry Creek.

Photo of a stock tank
Off-site water is provided to take the
pressure off the stream and give
livestock better access to grasses
away from the stream.

Return to the Project Location Map

Blackfoot Valley Watershed
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