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

As of 2/15/2017:

Snowpack: We are approximately two-thirds into the Big Hole snow accumulation period for the 2017 water year. In general, water year basin snowpack and precipitation are average (98%). Reported snowpack for mid-February is similar to 2015 and 2016 however the similarities stop there.  The past two years saw mid-winter valley snowmelt resulting in record streamflows at the Melrose gage. This year above average valley accumulations of snow have remained intact thanks to cooler than average temperatures. The gage at Melrose, the only year round real-time streamflow gage on the Big Hole River, is not reporting flow at this time due to ice issues. This could bear for a much better runoff if temperatures remain cool and snow continues.

Forecast: The NOAA three-month outlook at this time is for average temperatures and above average precipitation.  These forecasts are always subject to change.  (

View the Forecast Details

2016 Fundraising


2016 USGS Gage Bill:

Water Temperature at Dickie Bridge, Maiden Rock, and 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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