Arctic grayling habitat will be improved in Long Creek (near Lima Reservoir) by moving a portion of the stream into an old stream channel with existing high-quality vegetation. Habitat structures will be added to Lake Elmo (in Billings) during a planned drawdown, providing additional spawning and rearing habitat for warmwater species. These projects are two of nine that recently received funding by the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP). Approximately $228,800 in funding was approved to improve Montana fisheries.
The fisheries improvements include restoration of streams to a natural condition, installing fish barriers to isolate important native populations, improving fish passage, reservoir habitat placement, stream habitat installation, restoring streambanks, improving grazing management, and more. Projects will help both native and non-native fish, including Arctic grayling, bull trout, westslope cutthroat trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, and bass.
This year’s funding was matched by $720,000 from outside sources. Watershed organizations, governmental agencies, and others submitted a total of nine proposed projects. The approved projects are located across Montana, including four that are west and five that are east of the Continental Divide.
Applications for the FFIP winter-cycle grants are due Nov. 30, 2020, to FWP’s Fish Management Bureau. Application forms are available on FWP’s website, at FWP regional offices, and at the headquarters in Helena.
Any individual or group with a project designed to restore or enhance habitat for wild or native fish may apply for FFIP funding. Applicants are encouraged to work with local FWP fisheries biologists. Landowners and other project partners usually share project costs, extending FFIP dollars. More information and FFIP applications are available on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Select the Fish & Wildlife Tab, choose Habitat, then Fish, scroll down to find the link to the Future Fisheries Improvement Program.
Approved FFIP projects
• Big Hole Divide fish barriers (Beaverhead County)
• Long Creek aquatic habitat enhancement (Beaverhead County)
• Flint Creek riparian restoration (Granite County)
• Little Gold Creek fish passage (Granite County)
• Lake Elmo fish habitat enhancement (Yellowstone County)
• Lower French Creek riparian restoration (Deer Lodge County)
· Hall Creek fish barrier removal (Lake County)
· Madison River Storey Ditch riparian restoration (Madison County)
· Poorman Creek restoration phase 2 (Lewis & Clark County)