January 9, 2008 Full Meeting Minutes

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January 9, 2008 Meeting

Present:  Carl Malesich, Rob Van Deren, John Osborne, Harris Wheat, J. S. Turner, Jon Hoerning, Mary Smith, Tom Smith, Barbara Bauerle, Tim Egan, Jeremy Gingerich, Will Murray, Steve Cottom, Kyle Hardin, David Cottom, Tim Tollett, Jerry Meine, Kyle Tackett, Gary Icopini, Ginette Abdo, Stephanie Hellekson, Dick Oswald, Nick Hoyrup

The agenda for the January 9 regular meeting featured two presentations:

Dick Oswald, Area Fisheries Management Biologist gave his annual update on “The state of the Fisheries at Clark Canyon Reservoir and in the Beaverhead River”.  Highlights included:

  • The fishing picture at Clark Canyon Reservoir is looking better than the past couple of years.  It was in really tough shape four or five years ago.
  • It now has a better water level now which offers a much better environment for the fish.
  • This year marked the initiation of research on Burbot (also called Ling) which are showing a strong population of over 50,000.
  • There is a strong age/length correlation in the female Burbot.  The 28 inch – plus fish are eight or more years old.
  • A 22-inch male, however, can be anywhere from two to nine years old.
  • Burbot spawn in three to six feet of water, so dropping the reservoir level during spawning time has a very detrimental affect on the population.
  • The Brown trout population in the reservoir is also holding up well and some large fish are being taken.
  • Rainbows didn’t fare so well in the past year apparently due to a high angler success rate during winter months.  Survival rate of planted fish was also down.
  • In 2008, a different planting method will be utilized.  Boat planting will replace truck planting in hopes of increasing the survival rate.
  • In the Beaverhead River, no fall rainbow count was taken due to low flow and high water temperature in order to avoid stressing the fish further.
  • Brown Trout in the Hildreth section of the river showed good densities in age two’s, but eighteen-inch fish were at an all-time low of less than 100 fish per mile.  22-inch fish are missing all together for the second straight year.
  • The Pipe Organ stretch is less productive from a size perspective.  The census there is dominated by smaller fish.
  • The fish and Game section near Poindexter Slough showed the same tendency as the Pipe Organ stretch after holding up pretty well through the early drought years.
  • Overall densities in the lower river remain quite low at 200 – 300 fish per mile, but the size of the fish has remained stable.
  • Whitefish numbers are down and there are few juvenile fish to be counted.
  • The strong compliment of two year old fish is expected to dominate the Beaverhead in 2008 providing an abundance of 15 – 16-inch fish, while the 18-inch plus population is expected to decrease further.

Ginette Abdo and Gary Icopini from the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology provided the group with an overview of their upcoming study of Ground and surface water interactions in the watershed.

  • The project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • It will be a multi-year project to understand the relationship between components such as ground water, surface water, precipitation, and evapotranspiration.
  • The information gathered will help assess and predict the impact of conservation measures on ground water and return flows.
  • A first step will be to gather and revisit the multiple studies that have already been done in the Beaverhead to assess what is already known.
  • The initial area of concentration will be south of Beaverhead rock because there is considerable background information for that area.
  • Future work will include:
    • A geologic study of the project area
    • Compiling a database of wells in the area of the East Bench Unit/Beaverhead corridor
    • Development of a site-specific ground water flow model
    • Determination of the water chemistry characteristics for all areas of the corridor
    • Pumping tests on existing wells will be conducted
  • A new well is being drilled near Beaverhead rock to determine how pumping a near-stream well may affect the river.
  • The project is currently funded for one year.

Grant and Project Updates:

  • The Spring Creek Restoration Project, funded under a DNRC Renewable Resource Grant, is still slated to commence on-the-ground work in spring of 2008 when stream protection measures are complete by the land owner.  A Technical Committee Meeting with the landowners and MFWP was held on November 29 to tour the project area and discuss project tasks and timing.  The first step will be to select a design firm to complete the final restoration design.
  • A culvert replacement where Spring Creek crosses East Bench road, funded by a Future Fisheries Grant from MFWP, has been completed.  BWC/FFG supplied the pipe and Madison County /R. E. Miller and Sons performed the installation work.  The new culvert will eliminate a barrier that has kept fish from reaching the restoration reach of Spring Creek.
  • Title II funding which provided the Resource Advisory Committee funds for Blacktail Ridge Weed project has been extended through September 2008.  This extension has allowed the inclusion of an additional weed day on Blacktail Ridge and two at Clark Canyon Reservoir in 2008.
  • The Beaverhead TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) project remains on hold due to manpower shortfalls at MDEQ.  Attention is expected to come back to the Beaverhead project in the summer of 2008.
  •  Outreach and project investigations for future Section 319 grants through MDEQ will ramp back up in 2008 in anticipation of the completion of the Beaverhead TMDL.

Other Business

  • The annual meeting of the Upper Missouri Watersheds was held in the Montana Room of the Twin Bridges high School the evening of November 28.  The theme of this years meeting will be “Water and Rural Sprawl”.  A pot luck dinner will precede the meeting at 6:00 p.m.
  • The BWC continues to seek good improvement projects both on and off-stream across the watershed. Per the 2007 work plan, funding will actively be pursued for several new projects.  Any interested person with a concept or plan for 2008 or beyond is encouraged to contact the BWC.
  • The next full meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at the Search and Rescue Building in Dillon. Keynote speaker will be Eldon Ayers, President of Tristar Land Technologies.  He will present information on conservation practices in Inner Mongolia, China from his tour there in 2007.