Oregon Creek Stream Restoration
Since 2014, the Big Hole Watershed Committee (BHWC) and a dozen funding partners have invested significant time and energy into improving conditions of the French Creek drainage, a major tributary to the Big Hole River.
Restoration projects in adjacent tributaries, and a nearby
Superfund site, have worked toward reducing sediment, improving hydrology and function, and supporting native fish refugia. The latest project is in the lower reach of Oregon Creek.
Oregon Creek was damaged by historic placer mining activities and as a result, is listed on Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) List of Impaired Waters for its sedimentation/siltation problems.
Morrison-Maierle’s solution to restore the creek was to turn a sediment transport reach into a sediment catchment reach. In order to accomplish this task, the team designed approximately 1,400 lineal feet of new stream channel and four acres of new floodplain.
In addition, the project incorporated the installation of eight machine-made floodplain enhancement structures. These “detention ridges” now function similarly to natural beaver dams—catching sediment while slowing water
during high flows, and thereby improving habitat for wildlife.
As a result, this project reduced sedimentation/siltation, increased floodplain connectivity and water storage, restored natural channel migration settings, and improved native beaver and aquatic life habitat.
Further benefits include a comprehensive monitoring system to measure the hydrologic effect on natural water storage and late season flows. These late season flows will benefit the broader restoration community, downstream residents and ranchers as well as provide safe drinking water for the City of Butte.