About the Big HOle River Drought Management Plan

Shared Sacrifice, Shared Success

The Big Hole River Drought Management Plan designates target river flow and temperature conditions for fish health in five river sections of the Big Hole River. The plan includes voluntary conservation targets for all water users, MFWP fishing restriction criteria, and information tools. Conservation actions are designed support the health of the fishery.

The plan outlines voluntary conservation actions and relies on Shared Sacrifice, Shared Success – if all users sacrifice, we can all be successful in protecting the fishery. The plan also designates MFWP fishing restrictions when drought conditions reach critical levels.

The BHWC DMP originated in 1997. The plan is reviewed annually by a committee made up of irrigators, fishermen, conservation groups, and agency representatives as well as the entire BHWC.

River Conditions

Streamflow Forecast

From Jacqueline Knutson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hydrologist. As of 5/16/2018:

Streamflows: As of the beginning of May, most low to mid-elevation sites have transitioned to active melt that started during the last ten days of April. In most locations, the higher elevations are still holding snow water and not discharging at this time. The rapid increases in streamflows on many rivers and streams were due to snowmelt runoff at the end of the month due to the warm, sunny days and above freezing temperatures at mountain locations and precipitation continuing to regularly fall around southwest Montana. Streamflows have been well above average on the Big Hole and I expect streamflows to remain high through the end of the month and possibly through June depending, of course, on precipitation and temperature.

Forecast: During April ENSO-neutral conditions returned. These conditions are expected to continue through September and possibly through November. The chance of El Nino conditions setting in for the winter of 18-19 is increasing and nearing a 50% chance. ENSO-neutral conditions in southwest Montana mean some variability in summer weather patterns but it is likely that we will see average temperatures and precipitation. Along with our robust snowpack this bodes well for the summer however we will have to wait until after spring for forecasters to feel confident in long-term predictions.

The three-month outlook currently favors below average precipitation and average temperatures.

These forecasts are always subject to change. For more information, visit: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/.

View the Forecast Details

2016 Fundraising


2018 USGS Gage Bill:

Water Temperature at Big Hole River @ Wise River (Dickie Bridge), Maiden Rock, and Notch Bottom (Glen):

USGS Flow Gages for Upper Big Hole CCAA program:

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Wise River Real-Time Gage

Success Story

The Wise River real-time gage was installed near the mouth of the Wise River October 2015. The Big Hole Watershed Committee sought installation in order to continue flow and temperature monitoring in the Wise River, as well provide information for Wise River irrigators. The gage reports flow, stage and water temperature in real-time via Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Surface Water website. The gage is part of the 2015 launch of DNRC & Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology real-time monitoring system for small streams, who installed and operates the gage. Funding was provided by Big Hole Watershed Committee, The Nature Conservancy, and Montana Trout Unlimited and is graciously hosted on the PKR Ranch. The Big Hole Watershed Committee in partnership with DNRC, MFWP, and Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology have been conducting monitoring of the Wise River surface and groundwater since 2011.

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