Phase II: California Creek Low-Tech Restoration

Project Overview:

2021 marked the second phase of restoration on California Creek, a tributary of the Ruby River that originates in the Tobacco Root Mountains. Phase I was completed in 2019, with the installation of instream induced meandering structures and a rock ramp to stop a headcut and stabilize the channel.

California Creek is listed on the Ruby Watershed TMDL and is considered impaired by the Montana DEQ for issues with excess sedimentation due to historic mining and channel straightening. Concerns have been raised about the quantities of sediment California Creek contains and is delivering to the Ruby River. Sediment is being introduced from instream and upland sources, both of which were addressed during Phase II restoration.

Phase II was completed on a reach downstream of Phase I work; the project spanned 1,146ft of stream on BLM land. This reach encompasses 4 meadows in which structures were installed. 27 volunteers assisted with installing 17 instream structures, BDAs and bank-attached PALS, as well as 2 upland sediment traps. A total of 35 stakeholders were engaged and the RVCD impacted 0.7 acres of riparian, wetland, and instream habitat.

Did you miss the project installation? Want to learn more about the project details? The 2021 RVCD Big Sky Watershed Corps member, London Bernier, created a virtual project tour!

Project objectives included:

  • Increase floodplain connectivity
  • Promote groundwater recharge
  • Achieve higher densities of riparian vegetation
  • Reduce sedimentation
  • Increase meandering

Funding and Support:

Funding for this project was provided by the Montana Watershed Coordination Council Watershed Fund, the Montana DEQ, and US EPA. This project was made possible by support from FWP, BLM, NRCS and many other local organizations and community members.

Project Media:

MWCC Blog Feature: Big Sky Watershed Corps Project Support: Low-Tech Stream Restoration in the Ruby Watershed – Montana Watershed Coordination Council (

Project Photo Album: Facebook

Natural Resource News Article featured in The Madisonian: