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Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed

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Main Page Table of Contents    


Project Location

(click on image to enlarge)


The Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed Project Area, as shown in the map above, is located in the south-central portion of the state, and includes parts of Gallatin, Park, and Madison Counties. The project area lies within the Gallatin 8-digit HUC and includes nine 10-digit HUC watersheds: Gallatin River (1002000814);  Dry Creek (1002000812); Smith Creek (1002000811); Bridger Creek (1002000808); Upper East Gallatin River (1002000809); Hyalite Creek (1002000810); Big Bear Creek-Gallatin River (1002000807); Camp Creek (1002000806); Lower East Gallatin (1002000813). The Focus Watershed includes streams draining the northern flanks of the Gallatin Range and much of the Bridger Range. Overall, the Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed covers approximately 997 square miles (638,381 acres) between the headwaters of Hyalite Creek at its southern end, and the confluence of the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson rivers at its northern end. The towns of Bozeman and Belgrade occur in the central portion of the planning area, and the town of Manhattan occurs in the northwestern portion of the planning area.



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. The Lower Gallatin has been selected as the next Focus Watershed. 


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)     Work across DEQ programs to address nonpoint and point sources of pollution

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

4)     Document water quality and landowner successes.


Share this outreach flyer to help spread the news!


Why DEQ is Interested in the Lower Gallatin Watershed?


DEQ has identified numerous water quality impairments in the Lower Gallatin watershed. DEQ and local organizations have developed the planning documents to further quantify these impairments and the sources causing them. With a fast growing population, it is important to ensure that DEQ provide the resources needed to address them. 


A major reason the Lower Gallatin was selected as a focus watershed is because of the interest of multiple stakeholder groups working to improve water quality in this area. This includes but is not limited to:




If your organization is not on this list and would like to be involved in this focus watershed effort, please contact the focus watershed project coordinator.


Other criteria considered in selecting the Lower Gallatin as the next 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

(check back for more updates!)


Support evaluation of social metrics that lead to water quality improvement

Implementation of activities to address nonpoint sources of pollution is voluntary. Therefore, educating and empowering communities to take action is one of the most important tools for curbing nonpoint source pollution. How do we measure progress on the impacts of these activities? DEQ is working with the Gallatin Watershed Council and other local stakeholder to gage the current level of engagement and measure progress over time. One of the tools for doing this is a Community Readiness Assessment, which helps identify where a community falls along the stages of readiness to address an issue like improved water quality and the most appropriate actions to take to move along a pathway toward ownership and action on these issues.


Fund water quality restoration

The Montana DEQ receives approximately $1 million annually in project funding from EPA through the Clean Water Action Section 319 Grant Program. Please visit our 319 Restoration Projects map for more information about restoration projects in the Lower Gallatin and around the state.


DNRC provides funding for a variety of resource conservation and restoration work. Visit their Grants and Loans website for more information on funding programs and application deadlines.


Document success stories and achievements

Check out this video on the Gallatin Watershed Council and the Montana Watershed Coordination Council's story on the Gallatin Watershed 

We will be be working with partners as we move forward to identify areas for development of Success Stories.


Watershed Restoration Planning

     The Lower Gallatin Watershed Restoration Plan (2014) 


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. Next, after TMDLs have been implemented, TMDL Implementation Evaluations (TIEs) compile the planning, restoration, and monitoring that occurred since the publication of the Lower Gallatin 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.


There have been no TIEs completed in the Lower Gallatin to date. We will be be working with partners as we move forward to identify areas for development of TIEs.


You can view the original TMDL Development Project Page.


Trend Monitoring

    More coming soon!


Meetings and Presentations


Meeting & Agenda  Presentations 

Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed - Stakeholder Kickoff Meeting

February 7, 2020

Gallatin Conservation District - Manhattan, MT


Meeting Agenda 

Nonpoint Source Focus Watershed - Lower Gallatin (9.8 MB) -- Eric Trum and Hannah Riedl, DEQ 


Camp and Godfrey Creeks NWQI Watershed - Implementation -- Chris Mahoney, NRCS


Camp and Godfrey Creeks NWQI Watershed - Monitoring (5.5 MB)-- Katie Makarowski, DEQ






Project Contacts


Role  Name  Email  Phone 
Focus Watershed Project Coordinator  Eric Trum etrum@mt.gov  406-444-0531 
Monitoring Project Manager Katie Makarowski  kmkarowski@mt.gov 406-444-3507 


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: July 15, 2021