Confluence collected, processed, analyzed, and reported a variety of biological data at 28 sites on 15 streams to develop a baseline report on the existing conditions of select aquatic ecosystems on BLM lands within Fergus, Judith Basin, Cascade, Teton, Lewis and Clark, Pondera, and Meagher counties of Central Montana. This baseline report is used by the BLM to determine how land management practices have affected aquatic resources in the region, and to update their Resource Management Plans.
Habitat monitoring efforts included evaluation of riffle/pool frequency, maximum and mean channel depths, residual pool depths, bankfull width, width/depth ratios, floodprone widths, entrenchment ratios, large woody debris density, and eroding bank frequency. Additional physical parameters collected included temperature and stream bed substrate composition.
Biological monitoring efforts included conducting fish population surveys using single capture electroshocking methods, sampling macro-invertebrates, and documenting all reptile and amphibians observed at each monitoring site.
Vegetation surveys along each channel segment were conducted, including percent cover, species diversity, and documentation of any noxious weed infestations and rare or endangered species.
Results of this study were compiled into a baseline monitoring report for use in documenting the effects of the BLM’s Resource Management Plan on select mountain stream riparian and aquatic habitats. The BLM Fish Biologist for this region is currently utilizing this report to prioritize areas where reintroduction of Westslope cutthroat trout, a state species of special concern, is feasible based on habitat and management considerations.