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Shanley Creek

Location map for Shanley Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Shanley Creek, a second-order tributary to Cottonwood Creek, flows south nine miles through forested mountains and low-relief knob and kettle topography, including alluvial outwash. It enters Cottonwood Creek at river mile 5.6 with base flows of approx. 2 cfs. Land use in the drainage consists primarily of timber harvest in mid to upper portions, and livestock grazing and hay production in mid to lower portions. 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. Shanley Creek ranked 21 of 83 streams surveyed.

Three irrigation diversions and one irrigation pump pull water from the lower 1.6 miles of Shanley Creek. We have documented fish loses on two of the three diversions. The harvest of riparian timber has reduced recruitment of large woody debris to the channel, simplifying habitat. Livestock grazing has also damaged streambanks and caused sediment to accumulate in portions of lower stream reaches. Bollman (1996) reported moderate impairment to macro invertebrate community in the lower reach.

The University of Montana, Montana State University, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are cooperating on two projects to improve riparian areas and fisheries in the Shanley Creek drainage. An exclosure fence was constructed on the lower 0.5 miles in 1994 to measure the effect of livestock grazing on the riparian plant community. In 1993, we established a monitoring section in the degraded section of Shanley Creek prior to livestock grazing changes.  In 1993, we sampled 0.0 westslope cutthroat trout/100 feet. In 1996, we began to pick up westslope cutthroat trout in our surveys, and in 2001 we collected 1.1 fish/100 feet.

McKay paddle wheel self-cleaing fish screen on Shanley Creek photoA second project involved constructing a self-cleaning paddle wheel-driven fish screen on a diversion canal to the Bandy Reservoir. This screening device is designed so that approach velocities will not exceed 0.4 feet/second at the screen, thereby reducing potential impingement of young-of-the-year fish. This screening device has a by-pass feature that allows uninterrupted downstream movement of fish once screened out of the canal.

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Blackfoot Valley Watershed
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