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
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
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.
Before look at improper riparian
management along Dry Creek.
After look at the restored reach and
grazing management changes.
Habitat features associated with the restoration
included adding large woody debris and shrub transplants.
A solar powered electric fence was
installed for a 900-acre grazing system
to protect two miles of riparian area
on Dry Creek.
Off-site water is provided to take the
pressure off the stream and give
livestock better access to grasses
away from the stream.