Roles:

  • BHWC DMP: Big Hole Watershed Committee Drought Management Plan: BHWC leads a voluntary conservation plan in five river sections.
  • MFWP: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks: MFWP monitors and mandates river fishing restrictions and closures.
  • DNRC: Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation: DNRC monitors stream flow under the CCAA plans of the Upper Big Hole River. DNRC also provides stream flow reports on the entire Big Hole River to the BHWC.
  • CCAA: Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances: The CCAA is a plan used in the Upper Big Hole River between the headwaters and Dickie Bridge. 33 enrolled landowners covering more than 153,00 acres have agreed to conservation plans, one component of their plans is maintaining stream flow. Four agencies implement the CCAA – DNRC, MFWP, US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program (USFWS) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
  • USGS: United States Geological Survey: USGS monitors and maintain USGS Real-Time Gages data.

Big Hole Watershed Committee Big Hole River Drought Management Plan 2016

The Big Hole Watershed Committee operates the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan. The plan encourages voluntary conservation from water users to protect the fishery during times of drought using a “Shared Sacrifice, Shared Success” model.


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 determines fishing restrictions and closures for the Big Hole River. The fishing restrictions and closures based on drought conditions are set in the Big Hole River Drought Management Plan, which supersedes the Montana Drought Fishing Closure Policy.


Real-Time Flow and Temperature Conditions – United States Geological Survey


Drought Conditions


Snow Reports


Wise River Real-Time Gage

The Wise River Real-Time gage was installed near the mouth of Wise River October 2015 as part of the new DNRC real-time gaging program for monitoring smaller tributaries. The reporting is a partnership between DNRC and Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. In addition to access real-time flow data for Wise River, our past recorded data prior to this gage for the Wise River can also be accessed here.


National Drought Resilience Partnership

The Upper Missouri, of which the Big Hole River basin is included, was part of a collective of federal, state agencies, and local groups working together to improve drought resources and communication. The workgroup was assembled based on a federal initiative in 2014, selecting the Upper Missouri due to the existing collaboration and success, specifically the drought response in the Big Hole.


Water Quality – Water Temperature and Stream Flow

Water temperature is an important water quality for health of the fishery. High water temperatures (above 70F) stress salmonids and causes their metabolism to spike. Adequate stream flow in the river is important to provide habitat for fish. Adequate flow in the river also slows increasing water temperatures. The most critical factor in preventing high water temperatures is shading with riverside vegetation. Canyons also provide river shading. Cold water returns, such as in the Wise River area, add cold water to the river and keep water temperatures low.

In 2013, BHWC commissioned a study to review water temperature trends in the Big Hole River. The study found that solar radiation may be the most critical factor in preventing high water temperatures, suggesting river as the shading the highest restoration need.

Big Hole River Water Temperature Trend Analysis 2013