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Douglas Creek

Location map for Douglas Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Douglas Creek, a basin-fed, third-order stream, originates in Powell County on properties of mixed ownership. From its headwaters, it flows easterly through Bureau of Land Management land, Plum Creek Timber Company land and several ranches. Its base flow is approximately 12 cfs at its confluence with Nevada Creek at river mile 4.4.

Douglas Creek supports a pure population of westslope cutthroat trout in the headwaters, but supports an impaired fishery in lower reaches. In 1994, fish population inventories at two locations (river mile 0.2 and 8.0) of lower Douglas Creek recorded no salmonids below river mile 8.0 and no fish at the river mile 0.2. In 1997, four additional upstream fishery surveys were undertaken (river mile 11.2, 14.3, 15.5 and 16.0) in the headwaters of Douglas Creek located above, between and below a series of instream reservoirs. These fishery surveys recorded a significant shift in the composition of the fishery, ranging from 100% cutthroat trout in the upstream sample (river mile 16.0), to 98% non-game fish at the lower station (river mile 11.2). The upstream sample, taken above the reservoir, recorded a CPUE for westslope cutthroat trout of 5.4 fish/100 feet compared to 0.7 fish/100 feet at the downstream section, below the reservoirs.

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. Douglas Creek is ranked 36 of 83 streams surveyed.

Two large fish ladders were constructed in the spring of 2001. In both cases, we installed rock step/pool structures with vertical heights of over 20 feet. These two projects opened up five miles of critical spawning and rearing habitat for westslope cutthroat trout.

photo of the existing culvert aerial photo of a newly constructed fish ladder
Existing culvert in upper dam used for
irrigation. As you can see, this structure
prevents all upstream migrations.
Aerial view of newly constructed fish
ladder prior to turning in water.

Other projects in the watershed include grazing management along Douglas Creek and two of its tributaries as well as off-site water development. The principle landowner in this watershed has completed conservation easements perpetually protecting over 8,000 acres. We are presently working with the ranch on an additional easement protecting 7,000 acres.


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