Watershed Restoration Plan and Water Quality

*Under Construction*

Map of the Upper Missouri sub basins including the Ruby Watershed

What is a Watershed restoration plan?

Watershed restoration plans help protect and restore water resources by providing a framework for managing efforts to both restore water quality in degraded areas and to protect overall watershed health. As one of the requirements for receiving grants under Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act, the Ruby watershed Council (RWC) must provide a watershed restoration plan for the impaired waters of the Ruby watershed, which is located in the Upper Missouri headwaters in southwest Montana.

The Ruby Watershed Restoration Plan

Since 2015 RVCD has been implementing an evolving Watershed Restoration Plan. The focus of this plan is to repair overall stream and floodplain functions. This plan focuses on those streams that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lists as impaired in the Ruby watershed. The plan implements restoration activities and best management practices to address sources of fine sediment which is a major source of impairment.  These sources include: unpaved roadways, historic placer mining, altered riparian areas and historic livestock grazing.


Map of the Upper Ruby, Lower Ruby and Ruby Reservoir

Background:

The Ruby Watershed is a 622,974 acre rural valley containing primarily traditional agricultural operations combined with several small municipal communities, some historic mining and an active recreational tourism industry. The Ruby River begins high in the Snowcrest and Gravelly Mountain Ranges of southwest Montana and flows north through the valley until it joins the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers creating the headwaters of the Jefferson River. The Jefferson River joins the Madison and Gallatin Rivers forming the Missouri River.The Ruby Reservoir was built in the late 1930s to provide irrigation water for the lower Ruby, and lies roughly in the “middle” of the watershed, breaking the river into “the Upper Ruby” and “the Lower Ruby”. The construction of the dam has made the Upper and Lower Ruby function as separate systems.


Restoration Projects

The restoration plan for the Ruby River watershed focuses on several landscape areas. The projects are grouped based on geography into the Southern Tobacco Root, Lower Ruby Valley, and Upper Ruby Valley project areas. The current plan focuses on tributary streams originating in the Southern Tobacco Root mountains. These streams have similar impairments from historical mining, channel alterations, and de-watering. These streams also have high potential for restoring stream and floodplain functions and native fish populations. Click here to learn more about the westslope Cutthroat Trout conservation program!

Map of the Southern Tobacco Root Project Area subwatersheds and the Clear Creek subwatershed source: NRCS

To learn more about these subwatersheds click on the name below!

Ramshorn Creek

California Creek