Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently featured the French Gulch and Moose Creek restoration project on their Montana Outdoors report. View the video by clicking here.


About the French Gulch & Moose Creek Restoration Project

Historic placer mining left French Gulch in a start of disrepair. The restoration added 3 brand-new miles of stream and floodplain to French Gulch. Moose Creek gained 1/2 mile of rebuilt channel and floodplain repair to undo historic placer mining. This work benefits French Gulch and downstream into French Creek, Deep Creek and the Big Hole River.

Massive improvements were made to this drainage. Here are a few results:

  • Over 8 acres of new floodplain/wetlands created.
  • Over 30,000 cubic yards (810,000 cubic feet) of mine tailings removed from floodplain.
  • A new stream channel length over 7,400 feet with pools, woody debris habitat, and bioengineered willow lifts.  That’s 1,800 more feet compared to before!
  • Increased sinuosity over 30%.
  • Over 200 lbs of seed placed in wetlands.
  • Over 2,200 riparian container plants installed.
  • Many hundreds of willow staking in new floodplain.

French Gulch woke up this spring in its new channel and floodplain, and early indications are that the constructed dimensions are right where they need to be and vegetation will quickly re-establish the site. Instead of a five-foot high pile of cobble and sagebrush, French Gulch now boasts a saturated floodplain and the channel is full of complexity — boulders and roots placed in the channel are forming pools for fish and meander bends are sorting sediment and creating a dynamic system. Monitoring efforts for the project are underway this summer, including aerial imagery captured from drones.

The French Gulch and Moose Creek project was a collaborative efforts with several partners and funders. Here’s who made it all happen:

  • Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks – Landowner and project driver
  • Big Hole Watershed Committee – Project manager and coordinator
  • Morrison-Maierle, Inc. – Design and construction oversight
  • Montana Civil Contractors, Inc. – Construction
  • Watershed Consulting – Construction
  • Deer Lodge Valley Conservation District
  • Montana Department of Transportation
  • Montana Conservation Corps
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Funders: Montana DEQ 319, DNRC RDGP, FWP Future Fisheries Improvement Program, BLM, USFWS, George Grant Trout Unlimited, Montana Trout Unlimited, Montana Chapter American Fisheries Society, and Patagonia.

“This project has been kind of a slam dunk, between the contractors, the engineers, and the watershed committee – it’s just been a really great team.”

— Pedro Marques, BHWC Restoration Programs Manager