Big Hole Watershed Committee Secures $126,400 for Riparian Restoration in California Creek
California Creek has long been plagued by upland erosion. The Anaconda Smelter operations logged the area and smelter fallout contaminated the easily erodible volcanic tuff soil. Over the years the uplands of California Creek have eroded leaving large gullies. Sediment washed into the creek creating large white plumes that were visible in the Big Hole River. Water quality problems are caused by high amounts of sediment and metals, some natural and most the result of historic mining and smelting. Repair of damages caused by the Anaconda Smelter falls under the Montana Natural Resources Damages Program (NRDP) and until this year repair has been limited to the west side of the continental divide. In 2013, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, NRDP and the Big Hole Watershed Committee partnered to repair California Creek. NRDP will repair the upland area with revegetation and repair of the large gullies. The Big Hole Watershed Committee will lead the riparian restoration. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks provides support for the project. Watershed Consulting provides technical expertise. Work is slated for 2014-2015. Funding for the riparian restoration is provided by Montana Department of Environmental Quality with funds designated for improving water quality. Additional funding and support is provided by Montana NRDP and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Total project cost is estimated to be near $200,000 for both uplands and riparian areas of California Creek.
The Big Hole Watershed Committee appreciates Montana NRDP’s commitment to repairing damages caused by historic mining operations.