Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stream restoration- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Yesterday morning I headed out with fisheries management biologist Ladd Knotek to start my volunteer internship with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Recently, landowners caused some damage to the stream bank of a pure westslope cutthroat creek about 45 minutes west of Missoula. A water pipe was added to the stream bed, but major damage was done to the bank and surrounding areas of the stream. Our job was to oversee the project of reconstructing the bank and seeding the damaged area.
The reconstruction of the bank was pretty tough and it took a lot of logs, willow branches, and sod to create a sturdy bank that would withstand the flow of the stream when the water was diverted back to its natural path. The land owners working on the project had a few bulldozers and excavators which really helped with moving logs, boulders etc. After a few hours of chopping sod, shoveling dirt and removing rocks, the bank had been somewhat restored. I wish I had taken "before and after" pictures to show how much of a difference we made. I feel like we did a pretty good job.

The restored bank on the right

Our second task was to seed all of the damaged areas around the stream. It took a few hours to cover the seeds with hay and downed logs/brush. Our final task was to cover a steep slope near the stream to prevent erosion of the bank and to re-grow grass. Towards the end of the day we began to let water flow into the original stream bed once again. The stream looked good.

It was a very long day and I learned a lot about the process of restoring a damaged riparian area. Although it wasn't the usual fisheries project like radio telemetry, electro-shocking or redd counts, I still had a great experience and we did do something to help the fish out. I was pretty tired afterwards, and I know I haven't worked that hard in a while. I'm looking forward to other outings with MFWP.

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