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Bitterroot Focus Watershed

Page history last edited by hannah.riedl@... 2 days, 10 hours ago

Main Page Table of Contents    



 

Project Location


(Click on the map to enlarge)

 

The Bitterroot Focus Watershed Project Area is contained within Ravalli and Missoula County and encompasses the area shown in the map above. The project area encompasses the fourth-code hydrologic unit code (HUC) 17010205 and is bound by the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. The total extent of the watershed is approximately 2,855 square miles.

 


 

Project Overview

 

Nonpoint source pollution is Montana's largest source of water quality impairment. Nonpoint source pollution can impact water quality, wildlife, land management, and social factors such as economics and aesthetic resources. Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants (point sources), nonpoint sources of pollution are widespread and can be generated by most land-use activities.  This type of pollution occurs when rainfall or snowmelt creates run off that carries dirt, oil, fertilizers, and other chemicals into streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater. Often, simple best management practices, such as establishing and maintaining riparian vegetation, can buffer waterways from nonpoint source pollution. 

 

Given the widespread nature and collective impacts of nonpoint source pollution, generating momentum in water quality improvement is an essential component to documenting reduced nonpoint source pollution impacts. DEQ's Nonpoint Source Program's strategic plan is to focus a majority of its resources into select watersheds for up to 3 years. The first watershed selected, beginning in 2019, was the Bitterroot.   

 

Bitterroot River photo

Bitterroot River

 

Taking this approach, the goals are to:

1)     Support increased water quality improvement activities by generating water quality interest in the watershed’s citizens and building stakeholder capacity.

2)     Evaluate trends in nutrient concentrations in the mainstem Bitterroot River.

3)     Track water quality indicators that could suggest restoration activities or changes in management have improved conditions.

4)     Document water quality and landowner successes.

 


 

Why DEQ is Interested in the Bitterroot Watershed

 

A major reason the Bitterroot was selected as the first focus watershed is because of the multiple stakeholder groups working to improve water quality. This includes but is not limited to:

 

Other criteria considered in selecting the Bitterroot as the focus watershed include: 

  • The extent that DEQ supplied resources can provide increased momentum for water quality improvement actions on the ground.
  • Local citizens, stakeholders, and visitors are interested in, support, and value natural resources provided by water quality. 
  • The ability to track changes in water quality and/or key water quality indicators through time. 
  • There is a significant extent of nonpoint source pollution issues and related impairment conditions that can be addressed via traditional BMPs.
  • Potential to reduce a community’s point source treatment costs by reducing upstream nonpoint sources of pollution.
  • Coincides with other agency or other internal DEQ program priorities.

 


 

Project Objectives

 

Fund water quality restoration

In 2019 and 2020 , the Clean Water Action Section 319 Grant Program distributed over $700,000 to the Bitterroot Watershed. That's how much funding was distributed in the previous 10 years! Up to half of available Section 319 Grant funding is available to the Bitterroot watershed during Fiscal Year 2021 and Fiscal Year 2022 Call for Applications. Please visit our 319 Restoration Projects map for more information about restoration projects in the Bitterroot and around the state.

 

Document success stories and achievements

  • Check out the Montana Watershed Coordination Council's audio and printed Watershed Stories, with a set of stories focused on the Bitterroot Watershed 
  • 2018 news coverage of the Bitter Root Water Forum's restoration project on Miller Creek
  • 2020 news coverage of the Clark Fork Coalition's restoration project on Miller Creek 
  • 2020 news coverage of the Bitter Root Water Forum's restoration project on the Bitterroot River 
  • 2020 news coverage of the Bitter Root Water Forum's restoration project on North Burnt Fork Creek 

 

Watershed Restoration Planning

     Updated 2020 Bitterroot Watershed Restoration Plan

     Past WRPs completed also include: Miller Creek and Lolo Creek.

 

Complete TMDL Implementation Evaluations

Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are a plan to reduce pollution from different sources in order to achieve water quality standards. After TMDLs have been implemented, TMDL Implementation Evaluations (TIEs) compile the planning, restoration, and monitoring that occurred since the publication of the original TMDL document. TIEs summarize findings of the original TMDL Document and provide recommendations for improving water quality further, or make monitoring recommendations to reassess streams to see if they've achieved water quality standards.

 

New! Bitterroot Headwaters TIE

Past TIEs completed include Reimel Creek and Lolo Creek.

 

You can view the original Bitterroot TMDL Development Project Page.

 

Trend Monitoring

More coming soon! For now, learn more about the project by watching the recorded May 6, 2020 presentation by John DeArment below.


 

Meetings and Presentations

 

Meeting & Agenda  Presentations 

Bitterroot Stakeholder Symposium

May 6, 2020

Virtual Zoom meeting

 

Meeting Agenda

Watch the full recording here!: https://youtu.be/pbLmY4WV4q8

To help you navigate to topics of interest, timestamps are below and contained within these meeting notes (0.2 MB).

 

Welcome & overview (2.5 MB) - Hannah Riedl, DEQ

 

New ideas from the Bitterroot Watershed Restoration Plan (0.5 MB) - Andrea Price, Bitter Root Water Forum

 

Lessons learned from North Burnt Fork Creek project development Presentation (4.2 MB) and final report (1.3 MB) - Christine Brissette, Trout Unlimited

 

Mainstem monitoring results (1 MB) - John DeArment, Clark Fork Coalition

 

Community readiness assessments (0.4 MB) - Eric Trum, DEQ

 

Bitterroot River Protection Plan (5.3 MB) - Hannah Riedl, DEQ

 

Bitterroot Stakeholder Symposium

July 9, 2019

Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge

 

Meeting Agenda 

Welcome, Introductions and Overview (1.26 MB) --Hannah Riedl, DEQ 

 

Project updates (9.81 MB)--Jed Whiteley, Clark Fork Coalition 

 

TMDL Implementation Evaluations overview (3.6 MB)--Robert Ray, DEQ

 

USFS TMDL-Focused achievements and program direction (25.15 MB) --Marilyn Wildey, Bitterroot National Forest

 

Bitterroot Watershed Restoration Plan update (799 KB)--Heather Barber, Bitter Root Water Forum

 

State LiDAR Plan (3.59 MB)--Troy Blandford, Montana State Library

 

   

 


 

Project Contacts

 

Role  Name  Email  Phone 
Focus Watershed Project Coordinator  Hannah Riedl  Hannah.Riedl@mt.gov  406-444-0549 
Monitoring Project Manager Chris Faubion Christopher.Faubion@mt.gov
406-444-2838

 


Click on the Adobe Reader icon if you need to download the free Adobe Acrobat software in order to view the PDF documents on this page. 

Page Released: July 19, 2019

Page Last Updated: February 24, 2021