Watershed Restoration Coalition


This project was awarded small project of the year in Montana (2020) by the American Council of Engineering Companies.

The Cottonwood Creek watershed near Deer Lodge, Montana contains important priority streams for fisheries restoration, including Cottonwood Creek and Baggs Creek. Both of these streams characteristically have strong populations of Westslope cutthroat trout and the possibility to harbor bull trout, both of which are the target species of the project.
The McQueary Ranch operated two irrigation diversions: one on Cottonwood Creek and one on Baggs Creek. The water taken from these diversions was largely used for flood irrigating hay fields to assist in cattle ranching operations. The diversions were older structures, required frequent maintenance, and prohibited fish passage throughout the year. Once fish entered the irrigation ditch system, they became trapped within the ditch network.
The purpose of the project was to improve fish passage, reduce entrainment and upgrade irrigation infrastructure on Cottonwood Creek and Baggs Creek within the McQueary Ranch. The primary project components included new fish passage design, new diversion/headgate, and installation of an innovative fish screen.
Preliminary design was performed in 2013, final design completed in 2019 and the project was successfully installed in January 2020. The project was funded in partnership with the Clark Fork Coalition, Watershed Restoration Coalition, McQueary Ranch, NRCS, and NRDP.

Project Highlights

▪ New 32 CFS innovative fish screen
▪ New headgate
▪ 1000 feet of new ditch section
▪ 25-foot span aerial ditch span
▪ 800 feet of restoration for upstream passage
▪ 2D hydraulic modeling
▪ Geomorphic assessment
▪ Construction administration
▪ Project cost $256,000

Project Photos

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Storage • Distribution • Treatment • Supply • Hydraulic Modeling • Preliminary Engineering Reports/Facility Plans