Development, Improvements, and Enhancements
The Future Fisheries Improvement Program is proposing to provide partial funding for a project calling for the construction of a siphon where the Ward irrigation canal crosses Lost Horse Creek. The intent of this project is to restore connectivity between the Bitterroot River and Lost Horse Creek for migratory fish, especially westslope cutthroat trout, a species of special concern in Montana and potentially bull trout, a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the project would reduce a chronic source of sedimentation and enhance in-stream flow. The Ward Canal is a ditch that diverts water from the Bitterroot River. Currently, flow from the canal merges with Lost Horse Creek, allowing canal water to freely mix with Lost Horse Creek. In order to convey water across the stream, the irrigation district must create a gravel push-up dam that essentially disconnects the stream from the river. The installation of a siphon would maintain a separation of canal and creek water and would allow migrating fish to pass unimpeded in Lost Horse Creek. The project site is located approximately 6 miles south of the town of Darby in Ravalli County.