HELENA – Instream flow will improve in the Big Hole River when an irrigation diversion is upgraded to allow better control of diverted water. Westslope cutthroat trout populations will be reconnected in Lick Creek (East Fork Bitterroot River drainage) when two undersized culverts blocking fish passage are replaced with larger, functional culverts. These projects are two of 14 that recently received funding by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program (FFIP). Nearly $417,000 in funding was approved to improve Montana fisheries.
The fisheries improvements include restoration of streams to a natural condition, improving fish passage, adding habitat to a reservoir, creating stream habitat, restoring streambanks, improving water management and instream flow, protecting fish populations with barriers, keeping fish out of irrigation ditches, and more. Projects will help both native and non-native fish, including Arctic grayling, bull trout, westslope and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, northern pikeminnow, bluegill, crappie, yellow perch, channel catfish and bass.
This year’s funding was matched by $2.8 million from outside sources. Watershed organizations, governmental agencies and landowners submitted a total of 14 proposed projects. All of the projects were approved, including 12 that are west and two that are east of the Continental Divide.
Applications for the FFIP winter-cycle grants are due Nov. 15, 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)
Butte and Dillon Area
- Andrus Creek fish barrier (Beaverhead County)
- Big Hole Daniels Ditch fish screen improvement (Beaverhead County)
- Big Hole Spokane Diversion flow improvement (Beaverhead County)
- South Fork Dry Cottonwood Creek road 85 fish passage (Deer Lodge County)
- Lick Creek culvert replacements (Ravalli County)
- Beaver Creek restoration phase two (Lewis & Clark County)
- Willow Creek fish passage (Lewis & Clark County)
- Mill Creek fish barrier (Park County)
- Clark Fork River Flynn-Lowney ditch water savings (Missoula County)
- Little Park Creek restoration and WCT conservation (Missoula County)
- Miller Creek Bear Run stream restoration (Missoula County)
- Placid Lake outlet barrier improvement (Missoula County)
- Trail Creek fish passage (Missoula County)