Therriault Creek Wetlands Restoration
The Therriault Creek Stream and Wetland restoration project is an ongoing cooperative project between the Therriault Meadows Ranch, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Kootenai River Network, and MT PFW Program. The project represents a continued commitment by partners to complete several restoration projects in the Tobacco River watershed (Grave and Sinclair Creek restoration).
The project has focused on converting riparian vegetation along Therriault Creek at the site to a mosaic of native riparian shrubs and trees. Revegetation has been a crucial component to compliment the extensive 9,300 feet of stream re-construction implemented in 2004. The revegetation practice requires a multi-year, phased approach that includes maintenance and monitoring during the establishment period while vegetation becomes adapted to site conditions. The intention of the initial phase of the revegetation efforts, completed in fall 2007, was to implement a range of treatments based on a detailed evaluation of existing site conditions and ecological processes driving vegetation succession at the site. Effectiveness monitoring of the treatments installed in 2007 was completed in 2008 and 2009, and information from that monitoring effort was used to guide additional revegetation work in 2009 and 2010. Annual monitoring continues to provide important feedback to project partners about what works well and what the next steps for continued revegetation should be for this important flagship project. A small number of additional revegetation treatments and project maintenance are completed annually. The additional project enhancement tasks typically include watering of existing plants, removal and expansion of browse protectors, removal and transfer of solarization fabric to reduce reed canarygrass, and herbicide application to target invasive species in or adjacent to the project site. Project vegetation monitoring identified deer and elk browse as an important factor limiting the growth and survival of much of the planted vegetation throughout the project area. Project partners in the fall of 2013 installed approximately 5,800 linear feet of 10-foot tall heavy duty polyethylene deer fence were installed around the project area to alleviate the problem.
In 2012, in addition to revegetation activities, an undersized culvert was replaced with a gauge steel culvert upstream from the restoration project area. The improved culvert continues to allow sufficient in-stream flow needed for the improved riparian conditions and fish passage.
All projects have occurred on the Therriault Meadows Ranch. Therriault Creek is a tributary within the Tobacco River watershed. Therriault Creek has historically provided spawning and rearing habitat for rainbow, brook and westslope cutthroat trout. The landowners have been ideal partners in funding off-site watering and conducting invasive weed control treatment adjacent to the project area. The project continues to provide restored channel morphology, continued re-establishment of wetland conditions, decreased in-stream temperatures, increasing riparian vegetation, fish passage, and improved fish and wildlife habitat in the Therriault Creek watershed.