The Lower French Creek Restoration project addressed mining-related impacts, which left the old channel pinned against a high, eroding bank by a man-made dike feature. These human-caused alterations caused 800+ tons of sediment per year to break away from the bank and fall into the stream, affecting downstream fish and mussel habitat. To fix the problem, we constructed approximately 4,000 lineal feet of new stream channel east of the current channel through an area of healthy riparian vegetation. This was a much larger project, both in volume and length, than our previous stream restoration projects. Each meander, pool, riffle, bank, and floodplain were highly engineered to ensure a structurally stable stream, while also enhancing wildlife habitat. The project incorporated other water storage techniques as well, including depressional wetlands and floodplain micro-topography.
Project partners and funders included Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Bureau of Reclamation, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Morrison-Maierle, Inc., George Grant Trout Unlimited, Montana Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Project completed Fall 2019.
Constructed stream channel: 4,000 linear feet
Constructed riffle: 3,045 linear feet
Willow streambanks: 1,023 linear feet (5,115 willows)
Floodplain willow trenches: 905 linear feet (9,050 willows)
Wood habitat structures: 16
Habitat pools: 26
Depressional wetlands: 1.56 acres
Constructed floodplain: 7 acres