HELENA – Fish will be kept out of an irrigation ditch on South Fork Lower Willow Creek (near Lower Willow Creek Reservoir) when an irrigation diversion is upgraded and a fish screen is installed to maintain the water right while keeping fish in the stream. Westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout will have unobstructed access to aquatic habitat in Little Gold Creek (northeast of Philipsburg) when an undersized culvert that was blocking fish passage is replaced with a larger, functional culvert. These projects are two of seven that recently received funding by the Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP). Nearly $122,000 in funding was approved to improve Montana fisheries.
The fisheries improvements include restoration of streams to a natural condition, 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, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish, and bass.
This year’s funding was matched by $627,700 from outside sources. Watershed organizations, governmental agencies, and others submitted a total of eight proposed projects. Seven projects were approved across Montana, including five that are west and two that are east of the Continental Divide.
Applications for the FFIP summer-cycle grants are due May 31, 2021, to FWP’s Fish Habitat Bureau. Application forms are available on FWP’s website, fwp.mt.gov/FFIP or at FWP offices.
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/FFIP.
Approved FFIP projects
- Lake Elmo fish habitat supplement (Yellowstone County)
- Elk Spring Creek restoration phase 2 (Beaverhead County)
- Big Hole 40 Bar streambank restoration (Beaverhead County)
- East Fork Bitterroot River riparian vegetation (Ravalli County)
- Poorman Creek culvert replacement (Lewis & Clark County)
- South Fork Lower Willow Creek fish passage (Granite County)
- Little Gold culvert replacement supplement (Granite County)