Project Name

South Fork Coal Creek

Construction Management
Client / Agency
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
U.S. Forest Service- Flathead National Forest
Noth Fork Flathead River, Montana
2008 to 2009
Project Description
RDG was retained by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) to design and implement an in-channel large wood placement project in the South Fork Coal Creek drainage, a tributary to Big Creek in the North Fork Flathead River watershed near Glacier National Park. The Coal Creek watershed is an important spawning tributary for fluvial bull trout, a federally-listed species (USFWS, 1998). Over the years, MFWP had documented a reduction in bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) spawning redds related in part to land management activities that occurred in teh 1950s and 1960s. Stable wood loss had resulted in a more simplified channel characterized by coarser substrate, fewer pools, and less frequent large woody debris responsible for pool formation. RDG and MFWP contracted a 6,00 lb lift capacity KMAX helicopter to import large wood from a local donor source located on federal lands. A Spyder excavator operated by Lightning Excavation of Polson, Montana was used to arrange the wood in a variety of assemblages including jams, single pieces, and channel spanning arrays. RDG provided constuction management services and orchestrated helicopter and Spyder activities in conjunction with MFWP. Bull trout red count surveys conducted in 2010 documented 19 redds within the project reach, a substantial increase from previous years.
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Project Images

RDG hydrologist John Muhlfeld performs a limiting factor analysis for the SFCC project area.
Proposed large wood habitat structure locations are flagged for the field supervisor who coordinates wood staging between the sawyers, ground crews and helicopter pilot.
The field supervisor uses an organge indicator to identify staging areas for the helicopter pilot. To maintain a safe work environment, RDG field crews remain at least 150 meters from the staging area as the wood is placed.
The helicopter's co-pilot lowers a 60 foot spruce snag to the channel staging area. The orange indicator is visible in center of the channel.
After the trees ans stems are staged, the Spyder excavator arranges the wood acoording to the design plans and as directed by RDG and MFWP staff.
A single, channel spanning piece is placed by the Spyder excavator.
A large wood habitat array is constructed along an outside meander bend. Key members are used to ballast the structure and provide stability over a range of flow conditions.
Following construction, the structures are inspected by MFWP for compliance with the premit conditions and design.
Ms. Durea Belcer with MFWP's Fisheries Division visually inspects a structure immediately following construction. Final imspections are conducted by both RDG and MFWP to ensure both parties are mutually satisfied with the project implementation.

Related Videos

In 2009, RDG contracted with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to implement a large wood aquatic habitat restoration project on South Fork Coal Creek, a tributary to Big Creek in the North Fork Flathead River drainage of Montana. The following video clip was taken during construction activities.