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 6/20/2018:

Streamflows: Rapid snowmelt due to warm temperatures and abundant sunshine in May created high river volumes the past month and a substantial amount of our snowpack passed through the rivers of the Jefferson Basin by June 1st. Monthly May flow (total amount of water passing) at the Melrose gage was the third highest on record (95 years) and 438 thousand acre-feet passed the gage in May. The Big Hole remained at or near flood stage for most of May and early June. In the last week flows began to drop precipitously, especially in the upper basin, dropping to or below median daily flows at many gages. The last 5 days of precipitation has brought flows back up to well above normal. Expect flows to drop rapidly again when the rain stops since our snowpack did the bulk of its work in May. The abundant snowmelt during May has reduced the streamflow forecasts for the period from June 1st to September 30th to average or slightly below average.

Forecast: ENSO-neutral conditions are here to stay through the summer and an El Nino Watch has been issued for the fall and winter. El Nino winters typically bring milder and drier winters to Montana so this is something to keep in mind. For the summer we are very likely going to see some of the same pattern as last year with warm and dry days coming our way.

The three-month outlook currently favors average to below average precipitation and above 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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