South Fork Coal Creek
Client / Agency
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
U.S. Forest Service- Flathead National Forest
Noth Fork Flathead River, Montana
2008 to 2009
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.