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Sheep Creek Watershed Water Quality Planning Project

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Main Page          Monitoring and Assessment          TMDL Development          Restoration and Protection          


Outreach          Contact Information



Project Overview

The Water Quality Planning Bureau at Montana DEQ is conducting a watershed wide assessment for streams in the Sheep Creek watershed (Figure 1). This process started in the fall of 2014, and will continue into 2016. The purpose of this assessment is to determine the overall health of the streams in the Sheep Creek watershed, and determine if any water quality issues exist on those streams.


 Figure 1. Map of the Sheep Creek Watershed


Why is DEQ Interested in Sheep Creek?

With existing impairment listings from past evaluations and a new proposed copper mine, Sheep Creek is a prime candidate stream for water quality assessment. There are also engaged groups of stakeholders in the watershed that are interested in the issues surrounding Sheep Creek and its tributaries.


Watershed Risk Assessment

Since we do not have the resources to look at every stream in the watershed, a new risk-based approach is being used to prioritize which streams will be assessed. Streams that have the potential to be impaired by either a pollutant (sediment, nutrients, metals, etc.), or non-pollutant (flow alteration, habitat alteration, etc.) will be prioritized based on risk (need of restoration) and resource value. These projects also include streams that have been previously identified as impaired by a pollutant from past assessments. A sampling and analysis plan for the Sheep Creek project will be developed this winter to outline the streams where a more detailed monitoring and assessment will be performed in 2015. 




Sheep Creek Watershed Monitoring

In 2015, DEQ monitored the below list of streams for metals, nutrients, and temperature. Note that Sheep Creek was also monitored for E. coli and sediment. The 2015 sampling and analysis plans can be found on the Monitoring and Assessment page.  

  • Sheep Creek 
  • Big Butte Creek* 
  • Moose Creek 
  • Calf Creek 
  • Little Sheep Creek*
  • Nugget Creek 

*Ongoing monitoring being conducted by Montana DEQ and Tintina Resources


Opportunities for Local Stakeholder Collaboration

DEQ relies on input from people who live and work in these watersheds to inform the scope of our work throughout this planning process. Opportunities for partnerships between DEQ and stakeholders may include:

  • Input on sampling design – which waters to monitor and where?
  • Input on water quality issues of interest or concern
  • Volunteer monitoring program development/capacity-building
  • Landowner outreach to help facilitate monitoring on private lands
  • Support for local watershed restoration planning efforts


Project Contacts





Project Lead Dean Yashan dyashan@mt.gov (406) 444-5317

Project Manager - Metals and E. coli

Lou Volpe


(406) 444-6742

Monitoring and Assessment Lead

Al Nixon


(406) 444-3576

TMDL Implementation / Nonpoint Source Program Contact

Robert Ray


(406) 444-5319


Page Last Updated: March 15, 2017