Trout Creek is a tributary of the Clark Fork River approximately 40 miles west of Missoula, Montana. It is an important area for native westslope cutthroat and bull trout. The Trout Creek project involves a combination of restoration activities including mine reclamation, culvert replacement, large woody debris habitat improvement and riparian road revegetation. Because of historic mining and riparian logging disturbances, there is an obvious lack of large woody debris in Trout Creek. Strategically adding large woody debris to the stream was determined to be the greatest benefit for the smallest cost and most immediate impact for native fish populations.
The restoration project is the result of a collaborative effort between TU, Lolo National Forest and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The project was modeled upon past efforts by TU and the Forest Service on Cedar Creek in 2007-2008, where more than 5 miles of stream were successfully enhanced and monitored using similar large woody debris/logjam construction techniques. Reaches targeted for placement of large woody debris were low gradient, confined reaches exhibiting plane-bed morphology. Specific sites were identified by staff from the Lolo National Forest, Trout Unlimited, and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks where logjams could be tied into existing stands of vegetation, boulders or stabilized on their own on outside meander bends. The proposed placement of wood was to use a relatively “soft” approach, with no active anchoring and minimal disturbance to stream banks.
In total, 41 large woody debris complexes were installed throughout a 5 mile section of Trout Creek and are currently being monitored. Funding for this project came from Montana’s Future Fisheries Program and the Lolo National Forest.