|The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has announced that Jim Creek in the Swan River Valley will no longer be considered “impaired” for water quality. MDEQ will submit an impairment de-listing to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. Jim Creek was listed in 1996 due to sediment and siltation. However, a new MDEQ assessment has found Jim Creek to meet water quality standards. Improved forest practices and road management on both private and public lands in the watershed were significant factors in the delisting.
“Jim Creek is an important spawning stream for bull trout” said Forest Supervisor, Chip Weber. “I am proud of our work to improve and protect water quality in this beautiful stream”.
Improvement of Jim Creek has been a priority to the Flathead National Forest, MDEQ, and local conservation groups for several years. In 2013, the forest identified Jim Creek as a priority watershed for restoration, and developed an action plan to improve its function. Key elements of this plan were incorporated into the Cold Jim Resource Management Project and the Chilly James Access Management Project. Robert Ray, Water Quality Specialist with MDEQ said, “The national forest aquatics staff have been leaders in addressing water quality improvements on forest lands. Jim Creek is a great example of what can be accomplished by working together.”
Implementation of the Chilly James project used funds from a Clean Water Act 319 grant and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to implement road improvement and decommissioning projects designed specifically to minimize sediment from roads into Jim Creek and its tributaries. The Forest Service has implemented a variety of projects in the Jim Creek watershed, including road decommissioning, road storage, road surface erosion control, culvert upgrades, and bridge work.
According to Weber, “The de-listing of Jim Creek demonstrates the value of agencies and partners working together toward a common goal. The Flathead National Forest, Swan Valley Connections, MDEQ, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Swan Lakers, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Montana Department of Transportation all worked together to improve the Swan Lake watershed. De-listing Jim Creek is a testament to these cooperative efforts”.
For more information, please call Forest Hydrologist Craig Kendall at 406-758-6485.