The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission recently approved four Future Fisheries Improvement Program project proposals targeting immediate stream-flow improvements and long-term fishery benefits. The projects were selected from among seven proposals submitted this spring in response to a special drought-related funding opportunity.
"These projects will help some of our most critical fisheries this summer as well as provide long-term benefits," said Glenn Phillips, FWP Fisheries Division Habitat Protection Bureau Chief.
Three of the projects will demonstrate the efficiency of soil moisture probe technology to better manage irrigation and increase in-stream water flow. Irrigators on the Big Hole River, the Blackfoot and the Jefferson River will participate in three separate demonstrations. The funding, $1,358 on the Big Hole River, $4,849 on the Blackfoot River and $6,300 on the Jefferson River will be matched or exceeded by the applicants.
Soil-moisture probe technology has been used successfully in the Jefferson and Boulder valleys to improve irrigation efficiency, avoid over-watering and improve crop yields. Expanding this technology is expected to provide increased stream flows while decreasing pumping costs for irrigation.
The fourth project on Locke Creek, a tributary to the Yellowstone River near Livingston, will replace a water diversion with a well, reduce the acreage irrigated and make an additional 0.35 miles available for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout spawning. A windmill will be installed to generate electricity for the well. Stream flow on Locke Creek at the lowest flow will be increased by a minimum of 1.5 cfs. The proposal received $45,000 in program dollars and provides $28,000 in matching contributions.
The Future Fisheries Enhancement Program's next regular deadline for project proposals is July 1. Future Fisheries Enhancement Program application forms are available on the FWP web site at fwp.state.mt.us. For information on the Future Fisheries Enhancement Program, contact Glenn Phillips at 406-444-5334 or Mark Lere at 406-444-2432.