Lolo Creek Resource Assessment (2004)

Lolo Creek Resource Assessment
A Report on the Condition, Status and Land Use History of the
Lolo Creek Watershed, Missoula County, Montana
June 2004
Produced by
Montana Trout
P.O. Box 8871
Missoula, Montana 59807
John Zelazny, Writer and Editor
Table of Contents
General Description………………………………………………………………..2
The Lolo Creek Watershed.………………………………………..…2
General Setting.……………………………………………………….4
II. Land Ownership and Land Uses…………………………………………………..10
Major Land Ownership..…………………………………………….10
History of Highway 12………………………………………………13
Current and Future Land Use Trends……………………………….14
Lolo Creek’s Water.….…………………………………………………………15
Water Quantity and Hydrology..…………………………………….15
Water Quality………………………………………………………..16
Riparian Vegetation...……………………………………………….18
Stream Modifications..………………………………………………18
The Trout Fishery in Lolo Creek...……………………………………………19
Trends in the Fishery…………….………………………………………………19
Historic Status.......…………………………………………………20
Current Status………………………………………………………21
Species Composition and Distribution.…….....……………….21
Economics of Lolo Creek’s Fishery………..………………….22
Sources of Impact to Lolo Creek’s Trout Fishery..…………………23
Impacts of Highway 12.…….…………………………………23
Beaver Activity…....…………………………………………..23
Streamside Vegetation and Large Woody Debris…..…………24
Residential Developments in the Floodplain…...……………..26
Habitat Characteristics of Lolo Creek per Reach/Subreach (Streamwalk)……..26
Results Overview.…..…………………………………………….28
Reach Descriptions.....……………………………………………29
Reach 7…………………..……………………………………29
Reach 6..………………………………………………………34
Reach 5..………………………………………………………37
Reach 4.……………………………………………………….40
Table of Contents (continued)
Reach 3….…………………………………………………….43
Reach 2..………………………………………………………43
Reach 1..………………………………………………………44
Streamwalk Summary……….……………………………………46
Tributaries of Main Stem Lolo Creek...…………………………..47
Recreation Management.………………………………………………………51
Economics of Recreation…………………………………………53
Noxious Weeds.…………………………………………………………………54
Weed Management....……………………………………………..55
Economics of Noxious Weeds…....………………………………57
Conservation Recommendations………………………………………………57
Appendix A – Maps………………………………………………...……………………65
List of Tables
Table 1: Issues and concerns identified by the Lolo Watershed Group (Spring 2003)...…………………….2
Table 2: Climate Information, Lolo Creek watershed………………………………………………………..5
Table 3: Missoula County’s growing population...…………………………………………………………14
Table 4: Proper Functioning Condition Definitions.………………………………………………………..28
Table 5: Lolo National Forest Recreation Facilities & Features.…...………………………………………53
Table 6: Lolo National Forest’s "Watch List" - 25 invasive weeds of greatest concern……………………56
The production of this report would not have been
possible without the generous funding support of the
Montana Department of Natural Resources’
Conservation and Resources Development Division
and the Missoula Conservation District, who jointly
made possible a Watershed Assistance Grant for this
report. Additional funding support was provided by
the Jubitz Family Foundation and the Plum Creek
The GIS work upon which the streamwalk was based,
along with the production of the reach maps and
watershed map, was primarily done by Rankin Holmes
of the Big Sky Conservation Institute in Missoula,
Montana (406-541-2880,
Editing assistance was provided by Ladd Knotek
(MFWP), Tara Comfort (MCD) and Ron Steiner
(PCTC). Additional thanks are due Alan Anderson,
Dave Martin, Karen Tremper, Andy Kulla, Amanda
Burbank, Greg Munther, Brian Parker and Lori Zeiser.
The omission of others who helped is unintentional.
Cover Illustration:
“Entrance to the Bitter Root
Mountains by Lolo Trail”
lithograph from a drawing by
G. Sohon, of railroad expedition
party led by Lieutenant (later
Captain) John Mullan, 1853-54
#76-1187, K. Ross Toole
Archives, Maureen and Mike
Mansfield Library, The University
of Montana-Missoula
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
This report addresses natural resource
management issues of the Lolo Creek
watershed, and provides suggestions for
resolving some of those issues. It is focused
on the main stem of Lolo Creek (and not
tributary streams). Also, it examines the
history of land use in the watershed to
provide perspective on the current condition
of the watershed. It is not a scientific
document full of numbers and data, does not
pretend to be an exhaustive source of all
relevant information, and does not present
many new findings. This report is a
description of what the Lolo Creek
watershed is like in 2004 and what might be
done about some watershed-scale problems.
This report is intended to be useful to
virtually anyone who wants to work towards
the restoration of the watershed.
Rumors and perceptions of the poor quality
of Lolo Creek’s trout fishery attracted the
attention of local residents during the past
few years. Because the most appropriate
perspective to address fishery restoration
issues is at the watershed-scale, this
attention eventually led to the formation of
the Lolo Watershed Group (LWG) in
February 2003 and the production of this
report. During the initial meetings of the
Lolo Watershed Group, local residents
identified issues and concerns about natural
resource management in the Lolo Creek
watershed (see Table 1). This report
examines these issues in the context of land
use history and restoration of the wild trout
fishery. Recreation management, noxious
weed control and increasing development
pressures are also examined.
The fishery issue dominates the current
focus of the Lolo Watershed Group. Lolo
Creek is a third order stream with a drainage
area of 175,270 acres that flows eastward
from the crest of the Bitterroot mountain
range bordering Idaho and Montana. To the
casual observer, Lolo Creek’s cool, clean
waters and freestone cobble bottom provide
a classic visual setting that seems ideal for
trout. Lolo Creek flows into western
Montana’s Bitterroot River, which is
renowned for its wild trout fishery. Brown
trout, rainbow trout, westslope cutthroat
trout and rainbow-cutthroat hybrids all
thrive in the Bitterroot’s waters. Bull trout,
mountain whitefish, sculpins, shiners and
many other fish species (both native and
introduced) live in the Bitterroot. However,
like other lower Bitterroot tributaries, Lolo
Creek is far below its potential and historic
fish population levels. Where are the trout
in Lolo Creek? There are no apparent
manmade barriers of significance, like large
dams, to the movement of fish up Lolo
Creek. Snowshoe Falls up the West Fork in
the headwaters of Lolo Creek is the lowest
natural barrier. The water quality of Lolo
Creek appears to be as good, if not better,
than that of the Bitterroot River. To the
casual eye, Lolo Creek seems like a good
home for wild trout. And it is, in places.
But overall, wild trout of size and numbers
can be hard to find in Lolo Creek.
It was not always this way. According to
local sources (Dishman, Moore), as recently
as the 1960’s (when U.S. Highway 12 was
built) Lolo Creek produced wild trout in
both decent numbers and of respectable size.
Those who have fished Lolo Creek over the
years attest to the former quality of its wild
trout population.
The Lolo Creek valley is rich in history. It
was a key segment of Lewis and Clark’s
epic expedition to and from the Pacific; the
Corps of Discovery camped at Traveler’s
Rest along Lolo Creek in September 1805
and, while heading back, in July 1806. For
Native Americans, the Lolo valley was a
vital travel route for centuries, especially as
tribes headed east for bison and west for
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
salmon. The Lolo valley also gained fame
as part of the eastward route traversed by
Chief Joseph and the Nez-Perce tribe in
1877 as they fled U.S. troops.
could be. Fortunately, the Lolo Creek
watershed can still be repaired and restored,
although this will cost some money and take
many years of concerted effort. Lolo Creek
may never be the same stream it once was,
but it can be a lasting, productive
centerpiece in the lower Bitterroot.
The Lolo Creek watershed currently
embodies the last century’s changes to the
Fishery Restoration Issues:
! fish screens on irrigation headgates (to eliminate trapping trout in irrigation ditches);
! how can fish screens be maintained?;
! do high flows allow fish to get around diversions & screens?;
! timing of fish screen operations with dewatering and high flows;
! enforcement of activities that can divert fish away from the stream;
! kid's dams;
! water use/dewatering; and variability of flows...drought vs. wet years;
! streambank erosion;
! changes in ownership/changes in channel;
! Highway 12 spraying with de-icer polluting stream;
! ice movement downstream & ice-related stream damage;
! the relative quantity of large woody material in Lolo Creek;
! the impossibility of ever returning original meander patterns to the stream;
! the role of Highway 12’s effects on Lolo Creek since the 1950's;
Recreation Management Issues:
! recreation use - particularly the activities of "recreational" mining operations, crystal hunting,
large-scale berry picking;
! the whole gamut of non-hunting & fishing recreation uses, including picnics, hiking, camping,
swimming, and many other uses;
! vandalism;
! damage to private property, trash left by visitors, rude manners of visitors;
! public access concentration and impact on stream use/visitation;
! USFS/Plum Creek gates on roads concentrating access, limits recreation access to tributaries;
Noxious Weed Management Issues:
! weed distribution and control;
! expand area of concern to include the Bitterroot River within the Lolo Planning Area of the
Missoula County Comprehensive Plan;
! the effects of forest management issues, including old growth management and the rotation of
timber stands for cutting;
! The effects of wildfire on the Lolo Creek watershed;
! The effect of rapid development (“sprawl”) on the area.
Table 1: Issues and concerns identified by the Lolo Watershed Group (Spring 2003)
land. Lolo Creek is a stream that, by virtue
of its location and character, should hold
generous numbers of wild trout. However,
the cumulative effects of many different
land uses in the Lolo Creek watershed are a
likely culprit of rendering Lolo Creek’s wild
trout fishery pale in comparison to what it
General Description:
The Lolo Creek Watershed
“What is a watershed?”
“wa-ter-shed \ a region or area bounded
peripherally by a water parting and draining
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
H. Eide/USFS Region 1 Archives
Townsite of Lolo, looking west up the Lolo Creek watershed (probably early 1950’s)
watershed, and separates one watershed
from another.
to a particular watercourse or body of
water.” - Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Simply put, a watershed is a geographic
term for describing a single drainage basin,
or put even more simply, a watershed sheds
water into a common waterbody. When
water hits the ground in the form of rain,
snow or other precipitation, it flows
downslope under the force of gravity. At
the utmost upper end of all slopes is a line or
ridge that divides which way water will flow
downward. The down-flowing water
collects into trickles, then small streams, and
eventually rivers, lakes, or other large water
bodies. Looking back upslope, the dividing
line that separates one drainage from another
is called the hydrologic divide. That
dividing line goes all around an entire
No matter how flat or featureless an area
may seem, it is always inside a watershed or
drainage basin separated by a hydrologic
divide from other watersheds. The size of an
individual watershed varies with the
particular focus given. That is, we can refer
progressively (in size) to the Grave Creek
watershed, the Lolo Creek watershed, the
Bitterroot watershed, the Clark Fork
watershed or the entire Columbia River
watershed. Locally, the hydrologic divide
around the Lolo Creek watershed separates
it from the Petty Creek and Fish Creek
watersheds to the north, the Lochsa River
watershed in Idaho to the west and
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
southwest, and the Carlton Creek watershed
to the south.
General Setting
The Lolo Creek watershed is in the Rocky
Mountain physiographic province. Lolo
Creek is located just a few miles southwest
of Missoula, Montana. Lolo Creek heads in
the divide between Montana and Idaho, and
flows eastward about 35 miles to the
Bitterroot River. The Lolo Creek valley,
part of the mountainous west-central region
of Montana, is fairly narrow with steep
slopes adjoining the stream in the upper
portions of the watershed. Lower down, the
valley broadens considerably within the
hillsides. The town of Lolo (population
around 3400, or over 6000 including the
surrounding area1) is at the bottom (eastern)
end of the watershed, near the Bitterroot
River. U.S. Highway 12 begins at Lolo and
courses west right up the bottom of the
valley, heading over Lolo Pass into Idaho
where it runs along the Lochsa River.
The elevation of Lolo Pass, at the western
edge of the watershed, is 5235 feet above
sea level. The highest point in the
watershed is 9075-foot Lolo Peak, which is
on the southern, more mountainous side of
the watershed. The elevation of Lolo Creek
at its confluence with the Bitterroot River,
quite close to the town of Lolo, is 3150 feet
above sea level (MOPG, 2002).
As mentioned earlier, the total area of the
Lolo Creek watershed is 175,270 acres, or
about 274 square miles. Valley floor widths
range from about 400 feet in the upper
reaches to several thousand feet in the
middle and lower reaches, with a floodplain
over a mile wide at the creek’s confluence
with the Bitterroot River (MPOG, 2002).
The Lolo Creek drainage is referred to as a
narrow V-canyon type in the literature,
U.S. Census. 2000.
typified by stream-cutting into geologic
materials in the headwaters and broader
valley streams down the elevation grade
(Tuhy and Jensen, 1982). Lolo Creek itself
has a drop of about 32 feet per mile in its
middle and upper reaches (MOPG, 2002).
The channel of Lolo Creek is prone to
changes wrought by naturally occurring ice
jams, log jams and high flows. Prior to the
construction of Highway 12 in the 1950’s,
Lolo Creek meandered across the valley
floor. Old meanders on the north side of
Highway 12 that were severed during
construction are still easily seen.
Prior to European-influenced changes on the
landscape starting in the 1800’s, most of the
watershed was thickly forested. Wildfires,
some purposely ignited by natives to
enhance wild game hunting, occurred
erratically over time but never impacted
more than a fraction of the landscape at any
one time (Taber, 1969). Habitats still range
from the cottonwood/red osier dogwooddominated riparian zone along Lolo Creek to
slopes wooded with douglas fir, ponderosa
pine, lodgepole pine, larch and western red
cedar. The higher elevations have
overstories of grand fir, subalpine fir and
engelmann spruce. South-facing slopes tend
to be drier and more sparsely forested, with
dominance by light-tolerant species like
ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine. The
shadier north-facing slopes are the places to
find more thickly wooded stands with shadetolerant species like douglas fir and larch (or
“tamarack”) dominating. Red cedar are
generally found in moist, shady pockets.
The native trout species were bull trout,
westslope cutthroat trout and mountain
whitefish. These native fish are still present,
but have been diminished by habitat impacts
and the invasion of non-native species like
rainbow trout, brown trout and brook trout.
Native mammal species included elk, deer,
moose, mountain goat, black and grizzly
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
bear, gray wolf, coyote, pine marten, fisher,
badger, weasel, skunk, mink, pine squirrel,
chipmunks, gophers, ground squirrels,
beaver, porcupine, mountain lion, bobcat,
lynx and many others. Only grizzlies are no
longer present, although roving individuals
may still traverse the Lolo Creek watershed
from time to time.
The climate of the Lolo Creek watershed is
heavily influenced by moist air masses
moving east from the Pacific Ocean. In
general, the Lolo Creek watershed has short,
warm summers and long, somewhat
moderate winters. Some average climate
data for the Lolo watershed can be inferred
from collecting stations at Lolo Hot Springs
(el. 4150’), and nearby along the Bitterroot
valley floor at Stevensville (el. 3370’) and
Missoula (el. 3210’) (see Table 2). Low
temperatures in the Lolo Creek watershed in
(period of record)
Lolo Hot Springs
(10/1/1959 to 8/31/1984)
(8/23/1911 to 7/31/2003)
(4/ 5/1893 to 7/31/2003)
annual peak flows in late spring. Significant
accumulations of snowfall in the
watershed’s higher elevations create a large
reservoir of water released during melt
periods. Annual lows in the flow of Lolo
Creek occur in late summer. The
mountainous topography creates lots of
microclimates, such as the moister, cooler
environs of higher elevations and the
differences caused by aspect (relative
exposure to the sun).
The Lolo Creek watershed runs west to east
in an area that gets sunshine from the south
and southwest during the winter. Lolo
Creek itself and the valley floor is generally
shaded during the winter months. Residents
notice that winter ice forms easily and the
winter air usually stays cold (Anderson,
2003). The notable exceptions are
“chinooks,” short periods of warm, windy
weather during winter that can trigger rapid
melting, ice movement and localized
Average Min./Max.
Temperature (F)
Average Min./Max.
Temperature (F)
Average Total
Snowfall (in.)
Average Total
Precipitation (in.)
13.5/ 32.2
Table 2: Climate Information, Lolo Creek watershed (WRCC, 2003)
January can dip into minus numbers, while
summer temperatures can reach highs of
around 100 degrees.
These figures provide general patterns, but
do not really illustrate the full variability of
the Lolo Creek watershed’s climate. For
instance, in the upper Lolo Creek area
average annual precipitation is 50 to 60
inches per year, varying from 80 inches
along the Idaho/Montana divide to about 30
inches above Lolo Hot Springs (Sylte and
Riggers, 1999). Snowfall (and
corresponding melt) is the main driver of
flooding. Both the build up of ice and the
rapid warming periods can result in
localized flooding as streamflow backs up
behind temporary icejam dams and/or is
suddenly released.
This report is too limited in scope to be able
to fully address the issue of global warming
and climate change as it may affect the Lolo
Creek watershed. However, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has stated
that 9 of the warmest years for global mean
surface temperature in the last century were
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
and quartz/quartzites) and remnant spires.
The Idaho Batholith rose from magma and
created the Bitterroot mountain range. The
batholith’s granitic composition is evident in
the remnant spires that can be seen from
Highway 12 near Lolo Hot Springs, and also
in the highly erosive slopes and soils of the
upper watershed. The potential for surface
erosion and minor slumping is great
wherever granitic soils are disturbed (Sylte
and Riggers, 1999). The Hot Springs
themselves are thought to come from surface
water that, over many years, trickles down
fractures and cracks to a depth of 5000 feet,
is heated by the earth and returned to the
surface via more fractures and cracks (Alt,
1986). The valley floor is composed of
unconsolidated alluvium ranging in size
from clay to sand, gravels and boulders
(Boer, 2002)
W.E. Steuerwald/USFS Region 1 Archives
recorded during the past 14 years2. The
EPA goes on to state that, in the next
century, the extent of forested areas in
Montana could decline by as much as 1530%3 due to global warming. Precipitation
is predicted to increase because of increased
evaporation, but that precipitation may be
more intense and variable. Montana could
have greater flooding potential, hotter
summers, more frequent and prolonged
droughts, and reduced stream, lake and
groundwater levels (EPA, 2003). The
increased precipitation could take the form
of 15-40% increases in winter snow or rain.
As EPA puts it, a “warmer climate would
lead to earlier spring snowmelt, resulting in
higher streamflows in winter and spring and
lower streamflows in summer and fall.”4
The take-home lesson here is that residents
should heed the effects of global warming,
which may well profoundly change the way
water cycles through the drainage. Certainly
late summer dewatering issues will only
grow in severity if the predicted effects of
global warming continue to be realized.
Geology of the Lolo Creek watershed can
basically be separated into two parts.
Between the town of Lolo and Lolo Hot
Springs, steeply sloping sedimentary Belt
rock of the precambrian Ravalli and Wallace
formations (limestone, dolomite and other
rock) dominates (Alt, 1986). Lolo Creek
flows generally along a fault line down the
middle of the valley (Carpenter, 1976).
Above Lolo Hot Springs and south of Lolo
Creek, the Idaho Batholith, which is a large
granitic intrusion into sedimentary rock,
created metamorphic rock (phyllites, schists
Environmental Protection Agency. 2003. Global
Warming website.
Lolo Hot Springs, ca. 1954
Only native flora and fauna likely knew the
Lolo Creek watershed until perhaps 12,000
or so years ago. At that time, the late
Pleistocene, evidence exists that small,
roving bands of hunters and gatherers
pursued now-extinct big game species in
what is now Montana. It is possible that
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
A more southerly route, the Southern Nez Perce
Trail, was generally not a major east-west travel
reputation was well deserved. Historically,
raids by the Blackfeet and other plains
groups into western Montana were also a
common occurrence (McLeod, 1984).
The entry of the Lewis and Clark expedition
into the Lolo Creek watershed in 1805
marked a profound change in the history of
human use in the area. Prior to the coming
of Lewis and Clark, the Salish people had
been living and prospering in western
Montana for centuries (Discovery Writers,
1998). Perhaps with some irony, without
generous mercy and assistance from native
peoples the Lewis and Clark party would
likely have perished. Yet the Salish, like
their allies the Nez Perce, were ultimately in
the way of the same manifest destiny that
drove Lewis and Clark.
W.E. Steuerwald/USFS Region ! Archives
members of these bands may have skirted
the shores of Glacial Lake Missoula and
visited parts of the Bitterroot valley,
including the Lolo Creek watershed
(McLeod, 1984). Then, up until around
5500 years ago, the period known as Early
Plains Archaic probably included the first
human occupations of the area. During the
Middle Plains Archaic (5500-3000 years
ago), human use of the Bitterroot area took a
leap forward as suggested by the amount of
projectile points and other evidence
collected at various sites in the area. The
late Prehistoric period, which ended about
1700, saw not only the development of
many cultures within Rocky Mountain
valleys, but also a distinct influence by
cultures of the Columbia Plateau (McLeod,
1984). This cultural influence was made
possible by three major east-west travel
routes, the southernmost of which was the
Lolo Trail (as it is now called)5.
The parts of the Lolo Trail in Montana are
probably quite old (Space, 1970). The
Salish people used the Lolo Trail route to
access the Lochsa River near the present-day
Powell Ranger Station for salmon and
steelhead. The acquisition of the horse by
the Salish peoples in the 1720’s from the
Shoshonis to the south revolutionized the
ability of native people to move over large
areas (Malouf, 1952). After the coming of
the horse, Salish people could travel more
easily and quickly to the rich buffalo (bison)
hunting grounds east of the Rockies, and
also to the Idaho side of the Lolo Trail. The
closely allied Nez Perce tribes also used the
Lolo Trail for horseback trips for hunting,
food gathering, and trading, including trips
to the buffalo hunting grounds on the eastern
plains. All would-be travelers to the land of
the buffalo faced ambush by bands of the
ferocious Blackfeet tribe, whose merciless
View from the Lolo Trail, 1955
The journey of the Lewis and Clark
expedition from Washington, D.C. via St.
Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River
on the Pacific Ocean and back has been
thoroughly documented elsewhere. This
report only touches on the history of the
Lewis and Clark expedition as it relates to
the Lolo Creek watershed.
For several days in early September 1805,
the expedition party traveled down the
Bitterroot Valley, reaching a campsite near
the mouth of Lolo Creek in the late
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
afternoon of Monday, September 9, 1805.
After supper, Lewis wrote into his journal “
as our guide (the Shoshoni known as “Old
Toby”) informs that we should leave the
river (and head west) at this place and the
weather appearing settled and fair I
determined to halt the next day rest our
horses and take some scelestial
Observations. we called this Creek
Travellers rest. It is about 20 yards wide a
fine bould clear running stream.”6 A state
park now protects the Traveler’s Rest
campsite, which is about ½ mile upstream
from the Highway 93 bridge on Lolo
Creek’s south side. The campsite was
confirmed by mercury traces excavated from
the site of the latrine used by expedition
members, who were regularly medicated
with a mercury-laced laxative assumed to
cure all ailments. On September 11, about
3:00 p.m., the party began moving west up
the Lolo Creek watershed, traveling 7 miles
“thro a narrow valie and good road”7 and
camping about a half-mile below the present
day Woodman School “at Some old Indian
Lodges.”8 The “good road” was the lowest
portion of the Lolo Trail.
The party encountered difficult going
beyond the Woodman site as they ascended
the Lolo Trail towards the ridgeline north of
the creek. Much more difficulty befell them
before they were saved by the Nez Perce
tribe in the Weippe prairie of eastern Idaho.
When Lewis and Clark returned via the Lolo
Trail the following June, Nez Perce guides
and better preparation made for a slightly
easier journey. The evening of June 29,
1806, the party reached Lolo Hot Springs
where they camped and bathed before
Moulton, Gary E. (ed.). 1988. The Journals of the
Lewis & Clark Expedition. Vol. 5. University of
Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. p. 192.
ibid., p. 199
Moulton, Gary E. (ed.). 1988. The Journals of the
Lewis & Clark Expedition. Vol. 5. University of
Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska. p. 199.
descending, the next day, down Lolo Creek
(Discovery Writers, 1998). In Lewis’
journal, he notes passing both Howard
Creek and Grave Creek, and remarks about
having stopped at the latter for a noon break
on September 12 of the prior year. Lewis
also remarks on the abundance of deer
(“both speceis”9), elk and bighorn sheep
along the way. The party camped again at
Traveler’s Rest the night of Monday, June
30, 1806 and for two days afterwards.
While at Traveler’s Rest, Lewis and Clark
made plans to split up and cover much more
area in the remaining warm months. Also
near present-day Lolo during that early July
of 1806, Lewis complained of “the
musquetoes” which “have been excessively
troublesome to us since our arrival at this
place.”10 They still are. Lewis and a small
detachment left on July 3, north towards
Missoula and the Rocky Mountain Front,
while Clark and his portion of the party
headed back up the Bitterroot and towards
The significance of the Lewis and Clark
party’s travels through the Lolo Creek
watershed was more symbolic than anything
else. They were, for native people, the
vanguard of many to come afterwards and,
as stated previously, the watershed would
never be the same. After Lewis and Clark,
fur trappers and explorers for fur companies
were likely the next Euro-Americans to
encounter the Lolo Creek watershed.
Ralph Space, former supervisor of the
Clearwater National Forest, researched and
wrote about the Lolo Trail. Space maintains
that the name “Lolo” originated from a
French-descended fur trapper reputedly
named Lawrence who had a cabin on
present-day Grave Creek (Space, 1970). An
oft-told story is that native people couldn’t
ibid., p. 66.
ibid., p. 79
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
pronounce the “r” in Lawrence and that the
name became Lou-Lou, Lo Loo or Lo Lo.
When John Work, another fur trader,
described his journey over the Lolo Trail
into Montana in 1831, he called the stream
Lo Lou or Lou Lou. The name “Lo Lo” was
used to identify the stream by Captain John
Mullan in reporting on his 1854
reconnaissance for siting a railroad route
over the Rocky Mountains at Lolo Pass
(Space, 1970). The U.S. Post Office
shortened the name to “Lolo” after the first
post office was established there (Carpenter,
The Hell Gate Treaty of 1855 between Isaac
Stevens (governor of Washington Territory
and self-appointed territorial superintendent
of Indian affairs) and representatives of the
Kootenai, Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes
was intended to legally establish native
peoples’ future claims to a large area
including the Lolo Creek watershed (Zeisler,
1982). Lolo Creek was named in the Treaty
as the northern boundary for Salish lands in
the Bitterroot valley. Although any
homesteading in Salish territory was
supposed to be delayed pending an official
survey of the area, an influx of EuroAmerican settlement into the Bitterroot over
the next 20 years voided the issue. Chief
Charlo and several hundred Salish stayed in
the Bitterroot valley until the early 1890’s,
when their near-starvation led to a militarilyescorted removal to the reservation in the
Jocko valley (MPOG, 2002).
Another historic event in the Lolo Creek
watershed was the epic flight of the Nez
Perce tribe. Gold-hungry prospectors and
others invaded the Nez Perce homelands of
west-central Idaho, and subsequent conflict
led to U.S. military action against the
Indians. Attacks by whites on the Nez Perce
and battles between Euro-Americans and the
natives in late spring/early summer 1877
forced the Nez Perce to abandon their
homelands. After a key battle with General
O.O. Howard’s troops on the South Fork of
the Clearwater, the non-treaty Nez Perce
held a council at Weippe prairie at the
western end of the Lolo Trail. They had
been using the Lolo Trail for many years to
access the buffalo hunting grounds and for
friendly trading with other tribes and (more
recently) early settlers in the Bitterroot
(McLeod, 1984). At that council the nontreaty members of the tribe decided to head
east over the Lolo Trail to either obtain the
aid of the Crow tribe and/or to reach refuge
in Canada. In mid-July 1877, a group
consisting of about 200 men, 550 women
and children and over 2000 horses headed
east over the windfall-choked Lolo Trail,
followed in two weeks by General Howard
and 700 men of the U.S. Army (McLeod,
The only hostile incident the Nez Perce
encountered along the Lolo Trail was an
attempted skirmish at a site about 3 miles up
Lolo Creek from Lolo. There, Captain
Charles Rawn from Fort Missoula and a
small number of soldiers and civilian
recruits erected log and earthen breastworks
across the Lolo valley bottom in an attempt
to create a protected interception point.
Talks between Captain Rawn and Chiefs’
Looking Glass, White Bird and (later)
Joseph of the Nez Perce failed to result in
the unconditional surrender the army sought
(Carpenter, 1976). On the morning of July
28, 1877, the Nez Perce ascended to the
ridges north of Lolo Creek beyond rifle
range and bypassed Rawn’s breastworks
before descending to cross the creek and
head up the Bitterroot valley. Imagine the
moment: the long column of the Nez Perce
tribe, descending the Lolo Trail for the last
time, looking down at the military mustered
below. J.P. “Perry” McClain, an early
pioneer in the Lolo area and volunteer scout,
reportedly stood on present-day Mormon
Peak to the south of Lolo Creek and
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
observed the Nez Perce detour across the
valley, alerting the military only afterwards.
McClain was on friendly terms with the Nez
Perce, and felt they posed no threat
(Carpenter, 1976). The breastwork site was
dubbed “Fort Fizzle,” and is now a popular
Forest Service recreation site of the same
II. Land Ownership and Land
Major Land Ownership
Undeveloped wildlands of the Lolo Creek
watershed underwent rapid change in the
late 19th/early 20th centuries. In addition to
mining, ranching and homesteading, the
drainage saw a proliferation of logging and
sawmills. The U.S. Congress, alarmed at
the unregulated and hectic removal of timber
from federal lands throughout the western
U.S., passed an act in 1894 which allowed
the President to set aside federal forest
reserves as public reservations (Moore,
1996). In 1897, President Grover Cleveland
reserved over 13 million acres of forest
lands, the largest of which was the 4-million
acre Bitterroot Reserve. This reserve was
later divided into individual national forests,
including the Lolo National Forest which
now owns the bulk (118,000 acres or 68%)
of the Lolo Creek watershed.
The other major landowner in the Lolo
Creek watershed is the Plum Creek Timber
Company. The process of how Plum
Creek’s lands in the watershed were
obtained is both complicated and somewhat
controversial (although much of the
controversy has diminished over time). In
the 1860’s, Congress (anxious to expand
into vast undeveloped lands in the west)
provided grants of surface use of public
domain lands to various railroad companies
as an incentive to build transcontinental
railways (Mickelson, 1993). The general
scheme behind these railroad land grants
was to allow railroad companies to select
odd-numbered sections of land in a swath
extending 40 to 50 miles on either side of
the tracks. The idea was that railroad
companies would sell granted lands
(presumably to homesteaders) to subsidize
railroad construction, which didn’t always
happen. Once a section of track was built,
the federal government surveyed adjoining
lands and the railroads could choose which
sections they wanted. The Northern Pacific
Railroad received such a land grant.
Because of lands reserved for monuments,
national parks and forest reserves, as well as
lands homesteaded or assigned to native
people for reservations, and because the
railroads delayed choosing lands, railroads
assembled banks of “in-lieu” land selections
that could be picked in areas besides the
railroad corridor (Bechtold, 1992). Areas
like the Blackfoot valley, the Swan valley
and the Lolo/Lochsa watersheds were
chosen by Northern Pacific (and related
companies such as J.J. Hill’s Great
Northern) for timber value (Bechtold, 2004).
Timber was primarily needed to produce
railroad ties, but also for other purposes.
Through a long series of corporate
maneuvers, the Northern Pacific evolved
into the Burlington Northern, whose timber
programs were eventually held under a
subsidiary called Plum Creek (the name of a
lumber mill in Columbia Falls, Montana
acquired by Burlington Northern (Bechtold,
1992). Plum Creek separated from
Burlington Northern in 1989 and obtained
sole ownership of Burlington Northern’s
land holdings in the Lolo Creek watershed
(Sorenson, 2003). The “checkerboard”
remains, now under the ownership of Plum
The story of Plum Creek’s lands in the Lolo
Creek watershed is much more involved
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
than what was just described, and includes
transfers and sales of land to and from the
Anaconda Mining Company, the U.S. Forest
Service and others. For instance, Champion
International’s extensive holdings in the
drainage were absorbed by Plum Creek
during the 1990’s. In 1999, the U.S. Forest
Service completed a transfer/easement deal
with Plum Creek to obtain protection and
management authority for the Lewis and
Clark Trail in Montana. And, as recently as
2003, Plum Creek sold 160 acres of Lolo
valley bottom (1 mile downstream of Lolo
Hot Springs) to Tulsa, Oklahoma oilman
Bill Athens, who has announced designs on
subdividing the meadow complex into four
40-acre home properties (Athens, 2003).
The relevant gist of the Plum Creek story is
that the corporation, with headquarters in
Seattle, Washington, controls the
management of about 52,000 acres, or
almost 30%, of the Lolo Creek watershed.
That management has been contentious.
Some Lolo Creek landowners feel that
Champion International thoroughly cut over
its timberlands in the Lolo Creek watershed
during the 1980’s, and that, when Plum
Creek assumed ownership, the company
promptly logged what little was left
(Anderson, 2003). The era of junk bonds
and hostile takeovers in the 1980’s created
market conditions that definitely led Plum
Creek to “liquidate holdings” (i.e., harvest
all timber, especially old growth, as quickly
as possible without regard for environmental
consequences). Plum Creek logging on its
lands in Montana pushed yields from 67
million board feet in 1982 to a peak of 236
million board feet in 1986 (Bechtold, 1992).
Once the issue of native peoples’ claims to
the Lolo Creek watershed was “resolved,”
the stage was set for settlement by EuroAmericans. The Homestead Act of 1862
(and subsequent homestead acts) provided
legal means for securing lands in the public
domain. The Missoula County records
show ranching and mining activity in the
Lolo Creek watershed by the mid-1860’s
(McLeod, 1984). Prospecting for gold and
other minerals led to the location of several
mining claims in the Lolo drainage by the
late 1860’s (Carpenter, 1976). Even today,
the hills of the Lolo Creek watershed are
littered with the diggings and abandoned
mines of prospectors. In 1865, John
Delaney homesteaded the site of present-day
Lolo at the crossroads of the Lolo Trail and
the Missoula-Ft. Owen Road and obtained a
patent on his 160 acres in 1885. In 1888,
Delaney became first postmaster of the new
Lou Lou post office. Delaney also came to
own a livery stable, mercantile, sawmill,
blacksmith shop and a freight-hauling
business (Carpenter, 1976).
The first recorded settler in the Lolo Creek
valley was rancher and miner Matthew
Adams, whose place on a “Vanetta Creek”
was filed on in July 1866 (McLeod, 1984).
Research reveals no such stream, but there
was a Van Ettan site on present-day
Mormon Creek (Carpenter, 1976). Adams
and his partners ran a toll packing business
over Lolo Pass and down the Lolo Creek
watershed for a few years during a short
boom of mining activity (roughly 18661870) in north-central Idaho (McLeod,
1984). In 1874, Congress opened up the
Lolo Creek watershed and the entire
Bitterroot valley to settlement, although
many settlers and small communities were
already in place by that time (Zeisler, 1982).
In the 1880’s, the Lolo Creek watershed saw
a big increase in homesteading and
settlement (McLeod, 1984). Dan Woodman
(the first sheriff of Missoula County)
homesteaded what became the community
of Woodman, about 10 miles west of Lolo,
in 1880. The road from the Lolo townsite
led directly to Woodman’s place (Wright,
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
2003). The area Dan Woodman
homesteaded is now occupied by the
Woodman School, which was built in 1902
and later expanded upon to become the
present structure. J.P. “Perry” McClain
established a ranch south of Lolo and is
remembered for allowing the Nez Perce to
camp on his place after they left the Lolo
valley (Carpenter, 1976). McClain is also
reputed to have facilitated the settlement of
Sam Maclay in the Lolo area in the early
The Maclay family figured prominently in
the early history of the United States, and
Sam Maclay’s start in the Lolo area was part
of another milestone of changing land use.
The Maclay family was instrumental in
building the agricultural economy of the
area, and became one of the more
prosperous and enterprising dynasties in the
history of the Lolo area over the last 150
years (although from an inauspicious start).
Sam Maclay arrived at Lolo Creek on foot
after walking from a Missoula stage stop
(Carpenter, 1976). David Maclay arrived
penniless in Missoula to join his brothers
Sam and William, but like Sam he
eventually owned large amounts of the
valley bottom and benchlands around Lolo
and in the Bitterroot valley (Carpenter,
1976). Sam, David and others constructed
several irrigation ditches, including the
Mormon Creek ditch and the Lolo-Maclay
ditch off of Lolo Creek that divert water to
the south of the Lolo Creek watershed. The
Maclay ditch, constructed over a 20-year
period without the aid of machinery, was six
miles long with almost two miles of wooden
flume and much rock work (Carpenter,
By the time of their passing, Sam and David
Maclay amassed hundreds, if not thousands,
of acres which produced copious amounts of
wheat, hay, orchard fruit and other crops.
The Maclays had large herds of cattle and
sheep, and were major contributors to local
markets (Carpenter, 1976). The gains of the
Maclays were partly a result of prudent and
progressive thought, partly hard work and
dedication, and partly the good fortune of
arriving early in an undeveloped landscape.
They took the raw resources of the area and
transformed them to marketable goods, and
in doing so helped develop the community
of Lolo. David Maclay is remembered as “a
true conservationist” who “loved the land,
the streams, mountains and forests.”11 Sam
Maclay was “a great admirer of Theodore
A notable chapter in the story of how the
Lolo Creek watershed was settled and
developed is the growth and decline of the
orchard industry (or “apple boom”) in the
Bitterroot valley. Parts of the Bitterroot
valley’s benchlands were (and are) naturally
productive sites for fruit trees like apple,
pear and cherry. A small boom in orchard
cultivation occurred in the 1890’s, but the
big boom accompanied irrigation of
benchlands on the valley’s east side in the
period 1905-1920. The irrigation on the east
side was provided by the “Big Ditch,” built
by the Bitterroot Valley Irrigation Company
using water from just below Lake Como
(Zeisler, 1982). This company was but one
(albeit major) promoter of land sales
schemes aimed at attracting an aestheticallydriven and largely urban clientele from the
East and Midwest, generally based on the
dubious premise of enormous profits
realized from little work raising Bitterroot
Many early Lolo area residents had fruit
trees and orchards. The “apple boom,”
though, took the production of high quality
Carpenter, Mary (ed.). 1976. Lolo Creek
Reflections. Lolo Women’s Club. Economy
Publishers. Missoula, Montana. p. 73
Ibid., p. 76
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
fruit and turned it into an involved scam.
The Lolo Creek watershed had its share of
the boom. In 1911, David Maclay sold a
portion of his land holdings south-southwest
of Lolo to a promoter (William Ranft) who
added other parcels and named the lot of it
“MacIntosh Manor.” Most of the water
delivered to “MacIntosh Manor” came from
Mormon Creek. Ranft and partners sold lots
to would-be orchardists. Up to 19 lots were
deeded, but by 1914 the project failed and
most of the land was sold back to Sam
Maclay (Carpenter, 1976). Many other
landowners in the Lolo area devoted
extensive acreage and capital to the apple
boom. One of the more important impacts
to the Lolo Creek watershed was the need to
have ample water for irrigation diversions
for orchards, which further added to the
irrigation system. The entire apple boom in
the Bitterroot was over by 1920, due to a
combination of disease, site deficiencies,
insects, competition from other markets, and
the lack of farming skills and capital of
investors (Zeisler, 1982).
The books Lolo Creek Reflections (1976,
Economy Publishers, Missoula) and Dusty
Trails Up Lolo Creek: The Don Babcock
Collection (2002, LaughingStock Press,
Lolo) provide a great deal of interesting
reading about the settlement and early
community of the Lolo Creek watershed.
Featured in the first book are many family
histories related by descendants or close
acquaintances. The second book is also a
collection of anecdotal recollections about
the development of the Lolo valley over the
last century. Both books are recommended
reading for anyone interested in the history
of land ownership and land use in the Lolo
Creek watershed.
History of Highway 12
The original Lolo Trail created by native
people, which runs just below ridges and
along saddles north of Lolo Creek and the
Lochsa River between the Weippe prairie of
Idaho and the present-day town of Lolo, was
the first route over the Bitterroot Mountains.
Gold mining activity in the Virginia
City/Bannack areas of Montana in the early
1860’s created a clamor for an easier route
for moving freight and supplies to and from
Lewiston, Idaho. The federal government
appropriated funds and hired a construction
party including Iowa engineer Wellington
Bird and U.S. Army surveyor Major Sewell
Truax for the purpose of building a road
over the Bitterroots (Moore, 1996). The
“Bird-Truax” road was never completed due
to the roughness of the terrain and
insufficient funding. Although the general
route of the Lolo Trail was substantially
improved for travel by the trail work
completed by the Bird-Truax party in the
summer of 1866, thick timber susceptible to
windfall afterwards choked the improved
trail (Space, 1970). In July 1877, the Nez
Perce lost many horses due to injuries
wrought by all the fallen timber as they used
the trail. When General O.O. Howard
pursued them, he employed a 50-man crew
to clear fallen timber and widen the trail to
accommodate his troops (McLeod, 1984).
Eventually, a route that followed the valley
bottom gradually replaced travel along the
Lolo Trail. A good wagon road extended 6
miles up Lolo Creek by the late 1860’s
(McLeod, 1984). The county paid Perry
McClain and others for maintenance work
on this section during the 1870’s. As stated
earlier, the road was 11 miles long and ran
to Dan Woodman’s place by the early
1880’s (Wright, 2003). The wagon road
reached Lolo Hot Springs in 1888
(Carpenter, 1976). A short-lived boom of
activity in Lolo accompanied the
competition between J.J. Hill’s Great
Northern Railroad and E.H. Harriman’s
Union Pacific Railroad to build a railway
over Lolo Pass in 1909-10. The railway was
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
never built, but the roadbed constructed was
later to become the route of Highway 12
(Carpenter, 1976). The road from Lolo to
the Hot Springs was improved yet again by
In 1921, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads
took ownership of the road from Lolo to
Lolo Hot Springs and did some rebuilding.
In 1928, the road was extended over Lolo
Pass (McLeod, 1984). Despite periodic
improvements and maintenance, the road up
Lolo Creek remained dirt and gravel.
Stream and creek crossings were fords, at
least until the 1920’s. During the period of
the 1920’s to the 1950’s, multiple bridges
watershed’s land uses could be described as
logging and a scattering of mining in the
upper elevations and agriculture in the
bottomlands. Very little mining still occurs,
agriculture as a main business can only be
found on a couple of properties, and the
heyday of logging has passed (largely due to
the heavy timber harvest of the 1980’s).
Lolo and the Lolo Creek watershed are
increasingly a “bedroom community” for
Missoula, generally offering better prices for
land and housing as well as an attractive
setting for those wishing to secure property
in the mountain west without sacrificing
ready access to an urban area. The Lolo
Missoula County Population
Table 3: Missoula County’s growing population.
were constructed. Prolonged pressures for
an improved highway along Lolo Creek,
over Lolo Pass and down the Lochsa River
finally culminated in federal funding for the
“Lewis and Clark Highway,” which was
finished with a commemorative ceremony
atop Lolo Pass in 1962 (Space, 1964).
Current and Future Land Use Trends
One constant that holds for the Lolo Creek
watershed is that land uses and ownerships
undergo constant change. The one other
constant is Lolo Creek flowing though the
watershed, always reflecting the relative
impact people have on their environment.
From the time of the Salish to the present,
people who maintained intimate ties to the
land have made way for new residents. For
most of the last century, the Lolo Creek
Creek watershed’s rural character contrasts
with Missoula’s rapidly expanding urban
setting. Land developers have been quick to
take advantage of both the demand for
housing in the Lolo Creek watershed and the
willingness of landowners (including Plum
Creek Timber Company) to sell large
holdings that have sometimes seen
generations of related residents.
Population growth for the Lolo Creek
watershed has never been tracked.
However, census numbers for Missoula
County provide some insight (see Table 3):
1890 (14,427), 1920 (24,041), 1940
(29,038), and 1960 (44,663).13 In 1980,
Historical Census Browser. Geostat, University of
Virginia library.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Missoula County’s population was 76,016,
and was up to 95,802 by 2000, with a
growth rate between 1990 and 2000 of
21.8% (MPOG, 2002). The Lolo area
population probably numbered a few
hundred at the turn of the 20th century. It
grew from 4797 to 6046 between 1990 and
2000, for a growth rate of 26%; the
estimated population for 2010 is 7590, and
up to 9252 by 2020 (assuming the existing
growth rate of 2.3% per year). Currently, an
obvious trend in the Lolo area is the sale of
large (usually family held) land holdings and
the subsequent subdivision and development
of those lands for housing.
The rising population numbers in the Lolo
area and a perception of increased
development pressures (and state law) led
Missoula County to undertake creation of a
new comprehensive plan for Lolo. The new
Lolo Regional Plan, developed with
extensive public input, was adopted in April
2002 by the Missoula County Commission.
The Plan included guidelines for how
growth and development in the Lolo area
should proceed. Unfortunately, 2003’s
Montana Senate Bill 326 gutted the
authority behind those guidelines.
Lolo Creek’s Water
Water Quantity and Hydrology
The U.S. Geological Survey operated a
gauging station (#12352000) below the
Mormon Peak Bridge, about a mile above
the Lolo Creek’s confluence with Sleeman
Creek. The gauging station was only
operated from 1950 to 1960; daily flows
ranged from 30 to 1500 cubic feet per
second (cfs) from July through April, except
during spring run-off (May-June) when peak
flows reached 2500 cfs (Sullivan, 2003). At
the mouth of Lolo Creek, stream volume
ranges from a trickle in dry years (abetted by
upstream withdrawals for irrigation) to
about 250 cfs in the August to April period,
and spring flows range 1200 to 1600 cfs.
The 50-year flood flow is about 2900 cfs,
and the 100-year flood flow is about 3300
cfs (MPOG, 2002). Much of the recent
development of the Lolo area is within the
100-year floodplain.
The lower 2 to 3 miles of Lolo Creek have
reduced flows during dry years; the
diversion of water for irrigation can virtually
de-water the stream during the driest years,
reducing flows to nothing more than a few
small, shallow pools. Valid water rights
legally allow this dewatering to occur.
However, water use can often be
exacerbated by the lack of conservation
measures found in water diversion and
delivery systems. For instance, sometimes
excessive water has to be diverted in order
to overcome leaky and/or lengthy ditches.
Water use can, reportedly, also result in the
purposeful waste of diverted water
(Hendrickson, 2003).
The ditches that divert Lolo Creek’s water
hold flows to which individuals hold legal,
valid claims. The state of Montana currently
has a closure on additional surface water
rights in the Lolo Creek watershed, and has
already recognized rights for all available
surface flows in the watershed. Montana’s
water rights are prioritized by filing date,
which means that downstream rights holders
with senior rights have priority to water
above all junior users and can not only
legally de-water a stream but conduct
extensive channel work to assure full
Water rights can be leased, donated or sold
under Montana law, and in some watersheds
(such as the Blackfoot and Big Hole) water
rights holders voluntarily reduce their legal
diversions and use in order to maintain
minimum stream flows during drought
periods. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
can determine the minimum desired flow on
any one section of stream, and willing water
rights holders can agree to help meet those
flows through the variety of means listed
above. Even if water rights holders refuse to
relinquish any water for in-stream flows,
however, the irrigation (water delivery)
systems themselves can contribute to
substantial losses of water that negate
additions. Many irrigation ditches and
diversions in the Lolo Creek watershed were
built without much regard for water
conservation or with only technologies
available at that time, and as a result are
leak-prone and/or longer than is efficient.
An irrigation system efficiency study would
greatly benefit any efforts to improve the
efficiency of these systems. Also, new
technologies for diversions and water
delivery systems can greatly reduce impacts
to Lolo Creek’s flows while allowing water
rights’ holders to get more than the full use
of their water.
While some dewatering is probably natural,
influenced by the Bitterroot valley aquifer
and porous alluvial geology (Sullivan,
2003), there can be no doubt that irrigation
withdrawals figure prominently in the
dewatering of lower Lolo Creek. Even
though the flows of tributaries like Butte
Creek, South Fork Lolo Creek, Tevis Creek,
Mill Creek, Westerman Creek, John Creek,
Mormon Creek, Sleeman Creek and smaller
streams add to Lolo Creek’s flow, these are
more than offset by diversions. In the
streamwalk of August 27, 2003, for
instance, flows above the first diversion for
the Lolo Trails Ranch were 59 cfs. Below,
flows were 50 cfs. Above the Maclay
diversion (which has
over 90 users), flows were about 117 cfs,
and were only 49 cfs about a mile below.
Of course, other diversions in these sections
also contribute to dewatering. The
cumulative effect of these diversions on the
water quantity in-stream can be devastating
to aquatic life of all forms.
Water Quality
In 2002, Sean Sullivan (working with the
University of Montana’s Watershed Health
Clinic and for the Missoula County Water
District) undertook a study “to describe and
report the current conditions of Lolo Creek’s
mainstem, noting any apparent water quality
problems and sources of impairment.”14
Sullivan monitored 5 sites spread along the
length of Lolo Creek during the summer of
2002. The motivation for Sullivan’s study is
the listing of Lolo Creek on the Montana
Department of Environmental Quality’s
303(d) list for Montana, which is a list of
water bodies considered to be
environmentally impaired and in need of
governmentally-driven restoration efforts.
Lolo Creek is considered impaired for
supporting aquatic life, although not for
industrial and agricultural uses.
Sullivan used the Montana Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) Stream Reach
2002 Sullivan study sites (approximate)
Assessment procedure to assess each site.
Sullivan found that all 4 sites on Lolo Creek
downstream from Lolo Hot Springs were
indeed moderately impaired. The Lee Creek
site, above Lolo Hot Springs, was in better
Sullivan, Sean. 2003. Physical, Biological and
Chemical Assessment of Lolo Creek,
Montana. Report to the Missoula Water Quality
District (MWQD). P. 3.
Page 16
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
condition and not impaired according to
DEQ’s assessment procedure.
Sullivan concluded that “nitrogen
concentrations from April through
September were below standards and targets
set to protect the Clark Fork (River) from
nuisance algae, although these standards for
the Clark Fork are much more liberal than
would be expected for a freestone stream
like Lolo Creek. Sullivan also concluded
that nitrogen to phosphorous ratios suggest
that benthic algae are nitrogen-limited in
Lolo Creek. Sullivan noted that during the
study, nutrient loading from Lolo Creek was
not a significant load to the Bitterroot River.
Given nutrient and benthic algae levels he
observed during the study, Sullivan
concluded that Lolo Creek is not currently
impaired by algae or nutrients.”15
One serious and likely result of all the
housing development now underway in the
lower Lolo Creek watershed will be the
addition of many septic systems that, along
with yard fertilizers, may increase the
amount of nitrogen in Lolo Creek. Although
new septic systems and structures are
required to be out of the 100-year
floodplain, the presence of new paved roads,
manicured lawns and septic systems in the
watershed is a cause of concern for future
water quality. Septic systems are already at
the highest density in the watershed in the
Mormon Creek Road area (MPOG, 2002).
More nitrogen from housing development
will contribute to the nutrient load of the
Bitterroot River and stimulate algae growth
in Lolo Creek. More algae in Lolo Creek
will alter fish and insect populations, as well
as affecting the aesthetic quality of the
stream. Areas of coarse soils and high
groundwater are also at risk from septic
systems contaminating well water with
water-borne pathogens that cause intestinal
diseases (MPOG, 2002).
Ibid., p. 27
Sedimentation is listed as a key cause of
Lolo Creek’s impairment by the DEQ. The
sediment of Lolo Creek is a result of many
sources. Upstream roads associated with
logging have contributed substantial
amounts of sediment. Accelerated
downcutting and lateral erosion resulting
from extensive channel straightening, diking
and rip-rap has contributed to sedimentation.
A most direct input of sediment results from
highway sanding operations. In many cases,
highway rip-rap has been totally obscured
by repeated years of sanding and fines may
be directly deposited into the stream from
such depositions.
The addition of sediment to Lolo Creek
resulted in a Montana Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) study and
report on the upper portions of the
watershed (roughly above Lolo Hot
Springs). The Water Quality Restoration
Plan and Total Maximum Daily Loads for
the Upper Lolo Creek TMDL Planning Area
(or Upper Lolo TMDL) was released by
DEQ in April 2003. It provides guidance
and targets for reducing sedimentation due
to logging roads, stream crossings and
highway sanding operations. Unfortunately,
portions of the Upper Lolo TMDL conclude
with a stated need for more study. Such is
the case with the huge amounts of sand and
gravels applied to Highway 12 in the winter
months. Hundreds, if not thousands
(weather depending), of tons of sand and
gravel mixed with rock salt and other
chemicals are annually applied to Highway
12 in the Lolo Creek watershed.
The high sediment levels in Lolo Creek
affect fish habitat in several ways.
Interstitial spaces between rocks, which are
important to many forms and species of
aquatic insects, as well as young trout, are
reduced by sediment. Many mayfly,
stonefly and caddisfly species can be
Page 17
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
T. Comfort/Missoula Conservation District
Extensive road sanding along Lolo Creek for
Highway 12 maintenance, 3/2001
adversely affected. Although some species
of diptera, such as craneflies, benefit from
such sediment, reduction of aquatic insect
species diversity harms trout by eliminating
food. Spawning habitat is adversely
affected by the filling of interstitial spaces
and reducing oxygen flow to deposited eggs
and preventing surviving fry from emerging
from the gravel. In the streamwalk of
August 2003, high levels of sediment were
observed filling pools, reducing the depth
and size of pools. Sediment can also
accelerate channel changes as it deposits as
bedload, forming bars that encourage the
stream to change channel direction.
Other concerns about impacts to the quality
of Lolo Creek’s water are largely anecdotal
and have not been addressed through
monitoring and assessment. One of these,
commonly raised by area residents, is the
issue of ice-melting chemicals applied to
Highway 12 during the winter by Montana’s
Department of Transportation (MDOT).
Concerns about large amounts of sand and
gravel applied during winter maintenance of
the highway ending up in the creek have
resulted in greatly increased use of chemical
de-icing agents (Stimson, 2003). The
principal chemical used for winter de-icing
and anti-icing since 1988 is liquid
magnesium chloride. To date, MDOT can
provide no qualified studies determining
how toxic magnesium chloride may be to
aquatic life, or how (and in what time
intervals and concentrations) the chemical
makes its way from the roadway to the
Riparian Vegetation
In Sullivan’s 2002 study, all of the sites
sampled downstream of Lolo Hot Springs
were classified as having a Populus
trichocarpa (black cottonwood)/Cornus
stolonifera (red-osier dogwood) community
type (Hansen, 1995). The most upstream
site, at Lee Creek, has a Salix exigua (sand
bar willow) community. At the sites
Sullivan sampled using the simplistic DEQ
Stream Reach Assessment form, he found
only minor impairment of the riparian zone.
However, the utility of using broad-brush
DEQ standards for Lolo Creek is
questionable. For instance, the riparian zone
was completely absent or severely impacted
in many locations along Lolo Creek in the
streamwalk assessment done in August
2003. A more detailed discussion of
riparian conditions per reach can be found in
the “Habitat Characteristics of Lolo
Creek per Reach/Subreach” section
Stream Modifications
The following is a direct excerpt (pp. 4B-1
and 4B-2) from the Lolo Regional Plan
(Missoula County Office of Planning and
Grants, April 2002).
“Natural Stream Function
Streams and their floodplains are active and dynamic,
constantly adapting to changes within their
watersheds. A natural or human-caused disturbance
to a watershed can have effects on streams dozens of
miles away. Some of these changes can be
beneficial, but the larger disturbances can have
drastic effects, such as increasing flooding
Page 18
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
downstream, increasing bank erosion, and destroying
fish habitat. Altering one component of a watershed
affects other components of the streams within it.
Components of natural stream stability
For a stream to be naturally stable, it must have a
stable width, depth, slope and meander pattern so that
over time, channel features are maintained and the
stream efficiently transports its sediment load and
neither aggrades (stream channel elevation rises
through sediment deposition) nor degrades (stream
channel elevation decreases through erosion)
(Rosgen, 1996). The stream must constantly keep in
balance its sediment load, sediment size, channel
slope and the volume of discharge. A change in one
of these factors will either cause a change in at least
one other factor or cause the stream to aggrade or
Common impacts to stream stability
Natural stream stability can be impacted by the
Stream Bank Armoring. When a stream erodes a
bank it is trying to achieve stability. It can become
stable by either slowing itself down by gaining more
channel length and flattening its slope, or by
increasing its sediment load. A common response of
landowners to bank erosion is to rip-rap or otherwise
armor the bank. Standard bank armoring, however,
neither slows the stream nor increases sediment
supply. Thus, the stream will still try to reach a
balance by either eroding some other bank or by
degrading its bed.
Channel Straightening. Many streams have been
straightened, often for the convenience of highway
construction. Straightening a channel decreases its
length, increases its slope and increases the velocity
of water. This leads to either channel degradation or
bank erosion (or both).
Channel Constrictions. Constrictions such as
bridges or fill for building purposes causes water to
back up upstream, raising flood heights and causing
sediment deposition. Mid-stream islands are often
seen just upstream from bridges that are too short (in
span, both deck and abutments). This sediment
deposition often causes changes in the stream course
(as well as) bank erosion.
Loss of Flood Storage. When floodplains are filled
for building or for other purposes, the stream loses its
ability to discharge large volumes of water.
Floodplains not only store floodwater on the surface,
but also absorb floodwaters into their soils for slower
release. Floodplain vegetation slows stream
velocities. When floodplains are filled in one area,
the floods in other areas are always greater and flow
with greater velocities.
Loss of Riparian Vegetation. Riparian vegetation is
often destroyed by improper grazing practices or the
desire of homeowners to have a lawn bordering the
stream. Riparian vegetation slows stream velocities,
slows bank erosion, provides cover for wildlife and
fish, filters nutrients, and keeps water temperatures
cool for trout habitat. Loss of riparian vegetation is
almost immediately followed by bank erosion.
Increased Sediment. Timber harvest, road
construction, and other disturbances to soil in the
watershed can cause increased sediment to enter
streams. In addition to impairing the fish habitat, this
can cause stream aggradation that results in channel
change and increased flooding.
Changes in Vegetation Type. Large scale changes in
vegetation type and coverage can have great effects
on the volume of water in streams. Loss of shading
caused by timber harvest or forest fires results in
earlier snowmelt and higher spring runoffs.
Similarly, loss of vegetation due to pavement or
conversion of floodplain forests to grazing lands
causes less water to be stored in the soil for slow
release and more water to enter the stream in “flashy”
runoffs. This can increase the magnitude of spring
flooding and summer droughts.”
Lolo Creek and its tributaries have all been
heavily modified over time. One of the
more obvious modifications came from the
construction of Highway 12, which moved
most of Lolo Creek to the portion of its
floodplain south of the highway route and,
in doing so, cut off many meanders. Other
modifications to Lolo Creek’s stability
include the input of sediment from logging
activity and winter highway sanding, the
effects of water withdrawals, the impacts to
riparian growth from clearing and livestock
grazing, channel changes due to high water
and ice movement, bank stabilization (riprap) and levee building, and the large-scale
removal of timber from the watershed.
The Trout Fishery in Lolo
Trends in the Fishery
Page 19
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Historic Status
“Lolo Creek. A good-size mountain
stream…An easily and heavily fished
stream, it produces good summer catches of
8- to 14-inch rainbow, cutthroat and
brookies, plus a fall spawning run of brown
trout. It’s a popular creek for whitefish in
the winter.”16 “There is a little bit of
everything in the (Lolo Creek) drainage,
most commonly brookies, cutts and
rainbows, but with browns moving up from
the (Bitterroot) river in the fall.”17 Lolo
Creek is on the fishing map of Montana, and
easily entices anglers who drive alongside it
on Highway 12. In 2001, MFWP estimated
2,373 angler days on Lolo Creek from MaySeptember. Angler satisfaction averaged
2.92 on a scale from 1 to 5 and was higher
for residents than non-residents. However,
only 38% of anglers (2 out of 5) interviewed
by MFWP rated fishing on Lolo Creek as
good or excellent in 2001. The impression
among anglers who have fished Lolo Creek
over the years is that the quality has declined
Bud Moore’s childhood was spent on and
around Lolo Creek. Thinking back to the
1930’s, Moore recalls that the trout fishing
was excellent, with a population of native
cutthroat, bull trout, and large numbers of
mountain whitefish (especially during the
fall, when “every hole was full”18).
Cutthroats would generally weigh up to
about 3 pounds, with the biggest specimen
Moore remembers weighing 3¾ pounds (it
Konizeski, Dick. 1998. Edited and revised by Bill
Archie and Michele Archie. The Montanans’ Fishing
Guide. V. 1, Montana waters west of the Continental
Divide. Mountain Press Publishing Company.
Missoula, Montana. P. 46.
Holt, John. Montana fly fishing guide. V. 1, West
of the Continental Divide. Greycliff
Publishing Company. Helena, Montana. P. 22.
Moore, Bud. 2003. Personal Communication.
Former Lolo Creek resident. Condon,
was pulled from an irrigation ditch). Bull
trout were also “very numerous,”19 with an
annual run up Grave Creek and at least one
angler who would regularly catch 5- to 6pound bull trout on bait, fishing under
logjams and in deep holes. Rainbows began
showing up in the 1930’s, but there were no
browns or brookies then. Brook trout began
to show up “down low”20 in the 1960’s.
Moore recalls fishing in the 30’s and 40’s up
the East and West Forks under the shade of
heavy timber and catching numbers of
“redbelly” native cutthroats in the 12” size.
Moore describes the habitat back then as lots
of logjams and extremely thick growth along
the creek (Moore, 2003). Moore noticed a
big decline in the fishery after Highway 12
was built, particularly along the highway
route where straightening eliminated all the
“holes” and habitat.
Bill Dishman also grew up in the Lolo Creek
watershed, although his youth was a few
years later than Bud Moore’s. Dishman’s
early fishing largely occurred near the
family home a short way up Grave Creek,
although he also fished Howard Creek.21
Dishman recalls lots of native cutthroats and
bull trout, but no other species. Bull trout
were considered a “trash” fish due to their
predatory inclination to feed on the
cutthroats. Dishman also remembers Lolo
Creek’s numerous logjams, and the decline
in the fishery after Highway 12 was
Another aspect of Lolo Creek mentioned by
both Moore and Dishman was the presence
of large numbers of freshwater mussels in
Lolo Creek’s gravel bars. The mussels are
apparently gone in some reaches, along with
Dishman, Bill. 2003. Personal Communication.
Lolo Creek resident.
Page 20
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the ecological understanding about their
Alan Anderson moved into the area below
Grave Creek in the late 1970’s. Although
already impaired, Lolo Creek still provided
Anderson with good trout fishing in spots at
this time. An avid fisherman, Anderson
would routinely fish Lolo Creek in the
evenings, when he would catch many trout
in the 12” range, plus a few up to 16” and
occasionally one in the 18- to 20-inch range.
The fishing was so good, Anderson
remembers, that a family friend would leave
his home on fabled Rock Creek to come up
Lolo Creek for superior fishing (Anderson,
2003). Species composition, according to
Anderson, had shifted to mainly rainbows
and cutthroats, with an occasional bull trout
and brown trout caught later in the evening.
Brook trout were also widespread,
particularly in the East and West Forks
where Bud Moore had caught “redbellies”
40 to 50 years before.
These are not uncommon stories. A
common thread of all the stories told about
Lolo Creek’s diminishing fishery is that the
stream is straightening, holes are being filled
in, and the logjams are gone. Ladd Knotek,
MFWP fish biologist for Lolo Creek, sums
up the lack of habitat in Lolo Creek by
saying, “Lolo Creek is in serious need of
some complexity.”22
Current Status of Lolo Creek’s Fishery
Species Composition and Distribution
Due to limited resources and focus on other
stream systems in the Missoula area (e.g.,
Blackfoot River, Clark Fork River and
Rattlesnake Creek) in the 1980’s and
Knotek, Ladd. 2003. E-mail, 10/14/03. Montana
Department of
Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Missoula, Montana.
1990’s, little fisheries sampling data was
collected by MFWP in the Lolo Creek
drainage during this period. However, in
2002-2003, a comprehensive electrofishing
survey of more than 60 sites throughout the
drainage was completed (Knotek, 2003).
These data provided information on species
composition, species distribution and
relative abundance in the main stem and all
major tributaries in the Lolo Creek
watershed. Genetic samples used to identify
pure westslope cutthroat trout populations
were also collected from most tributaries,
but will take several years to analyze at
current funding levels.
This survey documented that introduced
trout species now dominate the assemblage
in Lolo Creek. Brook trout, in particular,
are found throughout most tributaries and
brown and rainbow trout exist in higher
densities in the main stem and larger
tributary reaches. Brook trout are extremely
adaptive, reproduce in good numbers and
have a well-earned reputation of displacing
native species. Brook trout also hybridize
with bull trout and other species. Rainbow
trout (and other species of cutthroat trout)
readily interbreed with westslope cutthroat
As with many large watersheds in western
Montana that have endured severe habitat
and water quality degradation, native trout
(westslope cutthroat and bull trout) have
been reduced in abundance and distribution
or completely eliminated from certain areas
in favor of introduced species. In Lolo
Creek, westslope cutthroat trout are most
abundant in upper reaches of tributaries or
smaller tributaries where they can
outcompete or are isolated from introduced
trout. Bull trout have disappeared from all
but a few reaches where their stringent
habitat and water quality requirements
persist. Overall, Lolo Creek is still likely a
very important source of recruitment for the
Page 21
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
lower Bitterroot River fishery, but no longer
supports fish densities or native populations
resembling historic levels.
Trout have to eat to live, and almost all of
their diet is composed of aquatic insects.
Aquatic insects, along with aquatic worms
and other small organisms that prefer the
bottom (“benthic”) zone of waterbodies, are
collectively called macroinvertebrates. The
study of a stream’s macroinvertebrates can
reveal clues to the condition of the fishery,
and also help determine how polluted (and
from what source) a particular waterbody
may be. For instance, stoneflies only inhabit
highly oxygenated, fairly pristine waters.
The three major types of insects that trout
feed on (stoneflies, mayflies and caddisflies)
all require fairly high water quality.
Because these insects have larval (or
“nymph”) stages from 1 to 3 years long,
their presence or absence can reveal much
about the water quality of a given stream,
pond or lake.
In the Sullivan study (2002), macroinvertebrate samples were taken at all sites,
and then analyzed by a consultant (Rhithron
Associates of Missoula) as an indicator of
water quality. The results were that all sites
downstream of Lolo Hot Springs were
moderately impaired, generally losing
quality the further downstream samples
were taken, based on the composition and
relative abundance of species per sample
(Bollman, 2003). This finding supports
general conclusions about water quality, but
doesn’t really address the condition of trout
habitat. While Lolo Creek still supports all
the major insect orders that trout feed on
(mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies), we
simply do not know how the
macroinvertebrate community has changed
over time or, if so, why. There is anecdotal
evidence that change has occurred. All of
the sources providing information about
Lolo Creek’s historical trout fishery
mentioned that a large stonefly (locally
called a “salmonfly”) used to be commonly
seen on Lolo Creek. The current status of
these insects (and others) needs to be
documented to determine how Lolo Creek’s
macroinvertebrate community may have
changed over time.
Economics of Lolo Creek’s Fishery
This report would be remiss if mention of
the economic value of trout fisheries was not
included. In research and analysis done for
MFWP by economist John Duffield, 1988
values per trip averaged $132.50 for Rock
Creek, $137.50 for the Blackfoot and $66.00
for the Bitterroot. 1990 values per mile of
angling on Montana streams were $10,272
for the Madison River and $2675 on the
Bitterroot. 1986 dollar per trip values based
on angler types revealed that angling
specialists (who focus on skills, catching
large trout and being outdoors) rate about
$170.00 per trip, while fishing generalists
(who focus on catching large trout, eat what
they catch and prefer wild trout) rate
$117.00 per trip. Nature generalists (who
focus on being outdoors, solitude, and
fishing close to home) rate $91.00 per trip.
Forty-three percent of “specialists” belonged
to sports or conservation groups, 60% used
flies, and 58% were residents. In fact, most
anglers on Montana streams in these studies
were residents. Value per day, based on
1990 dollars, rated $52.00/day for residents
and $193.00/day for non-residents. In 2004
dollars based on inflation rates relative to
the Gross Domestic Product,23 these
numbers recalculate to $69.04/day for
residents and $256.25/day for non-residents.
NASA Gross Domestic Product Deflator Inflation
Page 22
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Clearly, a thriving wild trout fishery in Lolo
Creek could create significant revenue for
the local economy.
Sources of Impact to Lolo Creek’s Trout
debris and shade to moderate stream
temperatures. Pools that form as a result of
this rip-rap have no overhead cover, nor
instream cover suitable for overwintering
habitat. Few pools form in rip-rapped
Impacts of Highway 12
The Lewis and Clark Highway, or U.S.
Highway 12, radically changed the condition
of Lolo Creek. Between Lolo and Lolo Hot
Springs, Highway 12 does not have a single
bridge or culvert allowing Lolo Creek to
flow north of the right-of-way. Local lore
holds that the construction of Highway 12
eliminated 15 to 16 bridges in that same
span (Anderson, 2003), and took out several
miles of Lolo Creek. The construction of
Highway 12 definitely moved the creek over
into a fraction of its floodplain, protected the
roadbed with long stretches of barren riprap, and forced the creek to take radical
turns away from the highway route. The
straightening of Lolo Creek by Highway 12
created all the negative impacts discussed
earlier under “Common impacts to stream
Channel relocation and associated rip-rap
from Highway 12 has reduced stream length
in several reaches of Lolo Creek. Old
stream channels cut off by Highway 12 are
easily observed north of the highway in
several locations. This stream shortening
has resulted in downcutting, accelerated
velocities, and lack of bedload deposition.
In addition, the increased stream velocities
impact downstream streambanks by
accelerating lateral erosion of the banks in
some areas. Streamflows carve out many
banks, particularly where the channel is
forced to take 90º turns south by Highway
12 (a major concern for property owners).
Streambank vegetation along the rip-rap has
been permanently removed, resulting in the
loss of future contributions of large woody
Straightened section of Lolo Creek, Oct. 2003
Beaver Activity
Above the confluence of the East Fork,
beavers can influence low gradient channels
through dam construction, and nutrient and
cover input by food gathering activities.
Below the confluence of the East Fork and
West Fork, the stream is too large to
effectively retain dams during high water
flows. However, beavers can play an
important role in small channels in braided
sections of the stream by creating low
velocity deeper water important to
overwintering trout. The downside of
beavers in Lolo Creek is that they will cut
down deciduous trees of all sizes for food,
which could inhibit development of mature
trees important as large woody debris in the
future (now in very short supply). Beavers
have been removed from much of Lolo
Creek. There was scant sign of active
beaver activity in reaches surveyed during
the August 2003 streamwalk; light signs of
Page 23
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
For the purposes of the streamwalk, rip-rap
was classified as being Highway 12 related,
residential (when a house or building was
the apparent target of protection), or ranch
(when pasture was the target of protection).
These classifications were omitted when the
reason for rip-rap was unapparent.
beaver use were observed in only 4 or 5
locations (although considerable beaver
activity has been observed off of the main
Rip-rap is the practice of “armoring”
sections of streambank with large, often
angular rocks to ward off erosive currents.
With over 23% of Lolo Creek rip-rapped,
the effects of these actions on the stream
have been enormous and detrimental to the
present fish habitat and inhibit the future
recovery of these areas, as well as
downstream habitats. Rip-rap, the practice
of armoring banks with large amounts of
angular rock or concrete pieces to ward off
erosive currents, was at first unlikely and is
now widespread and problematic (Clancy,
2000). As might be imagined, rip-rap shuts
down a stream’s natural tendency to
meander. Rip-rap eliminates overhanging
vegetation, undercut banks, woody debris
and natural channel structure. Rip-rap
(depending on channel type) can transfer
bank erosion problems downstream, and in
doing so actually harm (rather than protect)
private property (even though its usually
someone else’s). Many Lolo Creek property
owners downstream from rip-rap can attest
to this. Missoula County currently limits the
use of rip-rap to only limited situations.
In badly degraded streams, rip-rap does
provide marginal habitat, with juvenile
rainbow trout benefiting most (Clancy,
2000). Bio-engineered or “soft” approaches,
such as using whole trees, tree rootwads and
plant-fiber logs, are preferable, especially in
conjunction with revegetation efforts. The
“soft” approaches are not fail-safe and can
have limited usefulness in heavily erosive
conditions, but are being improved and can
be designed to fit specific sites.
Streamside Vegetation and Large Woody
From evidence of old stumps throughout
reaches surveyed in the August 2003
streamwalk, it is certain that most (if not all)
of Lolo Creek’s streambanks had mature
trees. With the exception of National Forest
lands at Lee Creek campground and near
Fort Fizzle, the amount of mature trees has
been substantially reduced throughout the
surveyed portion of Lolo Creek. Such
mature trees play a major role in
temperature moderation that results in cooler
summer stream temperatures and reduction
of icing during winter. Both of these factors
reduce trout populations, particularly the
winter icing conditions common now in
Lolo Creek.
Mature streamside trees are essential to
stream health in Lolo Creek. In addition to
essential shading provided by leafy
overhead cover, the roots of such trees
provide streambank structural strength to
resist erosion. This resistance promotes
streambank stability and results in deep
pools as stream energy cuts vertically into
the streambed. As these trees fall into the
stream they provide more resistance and
anchor points for transported large woody
debris, creating additional pools and
overhead cover. Such overhead cover,
combined with low velocity portions of the
pools, is essential to overwintering trout.
Most of the potential of creating additional
high quality pools is the retention and
restoration of large woody debris by
protecting and promoting new trees along
Page 24
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the length of Lolo Creek. Without new high
quality pools, there is little opportunity for
major trout restoration of this stream. An
equally important function of streamside
trees and other vegetation is the input of
organic material (allochthonous inputs),
primarily the leaves and woody material that
become a major food source for the
macroinvertebrates upon which trout feed.
A bit of synergy is found in the creation of
pools and other depositional areas for
allochthonous inputs by large woody debris
coming into the stream as a result of
streamside trees.
tasty meals.”24 This scene, perhaps without
the scooping part, has been repeated
countless times over the intervening 70-odd
years. In a September 2001 MFWP
electroshocking survey of the
Denton/Hendrickson/ Kuney or “Holt”
ditch, which diverts just downstream of the
Mormon Peak road bridge, hundreds of
young fish were found. Later in the same
fall, the MFWP surveyed the Maclay ditch,
which diverts just a bit further downstream,
and again found substantial numbers of fish,
There are a number of irrigation diversions
along Lolo Creek. As discussed earlier,
each diversion reduces in-stream flow,
which not only reduces surface area and
depth of fish habitat, but also increases
stream temperatures. Depending on the
design, each diversion can seriously impact
downstream migrating fish by trapping them
in irrigation ditches (also called
“entrainment”). Dams built to elevate water
levels up to a ditch’s entry can also block
upstream migrating fish. During low flows
of summer and fall, upstream migrating fish
are likely inhibited at dams spanning the
entire channel below several Lolo Creek
Entrainment is a major threat posed by
irrigation diversions on Lolo Creek. Writing
for the book Lolo Creek Reflections, Bud
Moore and his sister recall living at “a place
near Mill Creek” in the 1930’s where flood
irrigation was used to water the hay
meadows. “When the meadows were
sufficiently soaked,” Moore wrote, “the
ditch head gate was closed and the water
shut off. The fields immediately became
alive with trout, and the young scurried
about scooping up enough fish for several
Maclay Diversion Dam, September 2001
including brown trout, westslope cutthroat
trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish,
sculpins and other species.25 Bull trout were
observed in the ditch at a different time and
To date, none of Lolo Creek’s diversions
have fish screens to prevent such loss. And
often, the damming of water for irrigation
withdrawals can not only create passage
barriers but also influence how many fish
are directed to each diversion. Large
diversion dams can highly impact
downstream migrating trout, as a dam across
Carpenter, Mary (ed.). 1976. Lolo Creek
Reflections. Lolo Women’s Club. Economy
Publishers. Missoula, Montana. P. 83.
Evaluation of Fish Entrainment. 2001. Montana
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Missoula,
Page 25
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the whole stream width can direct fish to an
irrigation ditch. Fish naturally orienting
toward bottom cover would likely not pass
over the dam lip but would more likely
continue down into the ditch.
more common and destructive following the
stream straightening caused by Highway 12.
The solution to lessening damage from ice
movement will require additional research.
Habitat Characteristics of Lolo Creek
per Reach/Subreach (Streamwalk)
Residential Developments in the
Alan Anderson
Residences that are built in the floodplain or
adjacent to streambanks are usually
detrimental to stream health and habitat in
the long term. Lolo Creek has historically
moved back and forth across the valley
within ancient terraces. Such movements
facilitate conditions favorable to pool
creation, cottonwood regeneration,
formation of backwater in braided channels.
Such channel movements are beneficial to
stream health, trout, beaver and other
wildlife, and riparian conditions. Once a
residence is constructed near the stream, the
owners commonly begin to take steps to
insure the stream movements are minimized.
Woody debris accumulations are removed or
bucked into shorter lengths so they move
downstream. Rip-rap is sometimes placed
on outside bends. Native riparian shrubs
and trees are frequently removed and grass
planted instead. Domestic livestock
sometimes graze and reduce shrubs and
slough banks.
In August 2003, a streamwalk of Lolo Creek
(limited to the main stem to the Highway 93
bridge only) was done for the purposes of
assessing wild trout habitat conditions,
riparian health and overall stream channel
integrity. Streamwalks provide a quick
visual assessment of a stream, but also have
Pre-movement ice build-up in Lolo Creek
near Lolo Campground, 1981
Ice Movement
A phenomenon in Lolo Creek which has not
been studied in any detail is the winter
build-up of ice and subsequent rapid melting
caused by warm “chinook winds”. The
result is tremendous masses of accumulated
ice that move downstream with great
destructive power. These ice movements,
which typically occur in late winter, can
cause extensive flooding and unquantified
but likely substantial damage to stream
substrates and riparian areas. Local hearsay
is that these ice movements have become
many limitations. Among other things, a
streamwalk is highly subjective and reflects
the abilities, experience and bias of the
principal observer. This streamwalk of Lolo
Creek’s mainstem is based on one pass
down the stream, noting information
according to the observer’s judgement, and
so may not be considered scientifically valid
in every respect by some. There was not,
for instance, a specific reference stream or a
“best possible condition” ranking used for
comparing to Lolo Creek’s condition.
Page 26
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
However, this streamwalk was an excellent
means of visually assessing habitat
limitations of Lolo Creek’s main stem in the
eyes of a professional fisheries biologist
with many years of experience in this
region. The following section is the
resulting summary of that streamwalk.
Greg Munther, certified fisheries scientist,
and Brian Parker, hydrologist, walked nearly
27 miles of Lolo Creek’s main stem, the vast
majority in-stream wading. Eighteen stream
subreaches were measured for length, and
habitat alteration locations identified, using
a Magellen Meridian Gold GPS unit.
Parameters to measure components of fish
habitat were identified for each subreach
(the entire reach in Reach 2), which varied
from 2798 to 14, 837 feet in length. Each
single woody debris component was
estimated for length, diameter where it
entered the water, and wetted percentage of
total length. Accumulations of woody
debris were tallied, pieces and length of the
accumulation each totaled, and percentage
wetted were recorded. Each major pool was
measured for depth, and estimated average
length and width recorded. For each pool,
the type of resistance forming the pool was
identified, as well as the location of the pool
relative to the channel, and type of
hydrologic action forming the pool. A tally
of small pocket pools was collected for each
subreach. Dominant bank vegetation was
estimated for each subreach on each side of
the stream, and mature trees capable of
reaching the channel if falling toward the
stream were estimated as potential large
woody debris. Significant eroding raw
banks, undercut banks and rip-rap were
estimated for length and totaled for each
reach. Active channel width and wetted
width were recorded at multiple locations on
most reaches.
The streamwalk used Rosgen channel types
to describe reaches and subreaches of Lolo
Creek’s main stem. Rosgen channel types
are based on a system of ranking stream
channels according to variables like slope,
bankful width, depth, sinuosity, and
structure. The Rosgen system was
developed by Colorado hydrologist David
Rosgen, and uses a letter system (A through
G) with subsets of each to identify channel
types. “A” channel types, for instance, are
dominated by step pools and occur in
steeper areas. “B” and “C” channel types
tend to be less steep, broader and more
riffle-dominated, with pools and other
features proportional to slope and bankful
width (Rosgen, 1996). The Rosgen system
is now recognized as perhaps the most
frequently used method for clarifying
different types of stream channels.
Page 27
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
The USDI/USDA Proper Functioning
Condition (PFC) methodology (USDA,
1998) was used to qualitatively assess
overall riparian zone function and “health”.
PFC uses a checklist format and separates
areas of concern by hydrology, vegetation
and erosion/deposition. The end result is a
user-determined classification of the reach
into one of the following categories:
“Proper Functioning Condition”,
“Functional-At Risk” with an upward or
downward trend component,
“Nonfunctional” or “Unknown”. Each
subreach was rated on the basis of condition
according to the observer, rather than in
reference to a specific reference stream.
While the use of the PFC methodology in
the streamwalk provided a means of
describing the stream corridor, it is a
subjective method that depends largely on
the experience and judgement of those using
it. For more explanation of the Proper
Functioning Condition terminology, see
Table 4.
Results Overview:
The total length surveyed was 141,810 feet
or 26.86 miles of main stem Lolo Creek. Of
this overall length, there was 33,550 feet of
rip-rapped banks, or 23.7% of the total
stream length surveyed. Access issues made
measurement of the total stream length of
Lolo Creek affected by Highway 12’s
construction impossible. Banks with
significant erosion totaled 4545 feet or 3.2%
of total stream length. Banks stable enough
to cause significant lengths of undercut or
vegetative overhang totaled 3597 feet or
2.5% of total stream length. There were a
total of 245 individual pieces of large woody
debris within the active channel that were
isolated from other woody debris and an
additional 281 accumulations of woody
debris with an estimated total of 2031
number of pieces. This number is well
Page 28
Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) – A
riparian-wetland area is considered to be in
proper functioning condition when adequate
vegetation, landform, or large woody debris is
present to:
! Dissipate stream energy association with
high waterflow, thereby reducing
erosion and improving water quality;
! Filter sediment, capture bedload, and aid
floodplain development;
! Improve flood-water retention and
ground-water recharge;
! Develop root masses that stabilize
streambanks against cutting action;
! Develop diverse ponding and channel
characteristics to provide the habitat and
the water depth, duration, and
temperature necessary for fish
production, waterfowl breeding, and
other uses;
! Support greater biodiversity.
Functional-At Risk – Riparian-wetland areas
that are in functional condition, but an existing
soil, water, or vegetation attribute makes them
susceptible to degradation.
Trend – Trend is determined when a rating of
Functional-At Risk is given. Trend can be
determined by comparing present conditions with
past conditions. In the absence of information
prior to the assessment, apparent trend may be
deduced using criteria for recruitment and
establishment of riparian-wetland species (or
absence thereof) that indicate an increase (or
decline) in soil moisture characteristics, riparian
health, etc. If there is insufficient evidence to
make a determination that there is a trend toward
PFC (upward) or away from PFC (downward),
then trend is not apparent.
Nonfunctional – Riparian-wetland areas that
clearly are not providing adequate vegetation,
landform, or large woody debris to dissipate
stream energy associated with high flows, and
thus are not reducing erosion, improving water
quality, etc.
Unknown – Riparian-wetland areas that
managers lack sufficient information on to make
any form of determination.
Table 4: Proper Functioning Condition
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
below the amount of instream LWD needed
for good habitat quality.
Bank vegetation included 9252 mature trees
as potential large woody debris. Estimated
mature tree canopy ranged from 92% bank
cover at Fort Fizzle to 3% in the East Fork
to Lolo Hot Springs footbridge reach.
Shrubs were the dominant ground cover
where tree canopy was missing, and grasses
were most prevalent in the reach from Elk
Meadows Bridge to Mytty Ranch Bridge.
The major sediment sources on Lolo Creek
noted during the streamwalk appeared to be
direct and indirect sediment inputs from
winter road sanding operations on Highway.
12, and to a lesser extent, sediment delivery
from eroding banks. Highway generated
road sand is delivered in the central and
upper portions of the watershed, while
laterally eroding banks were found
throughout main stem Lolo Creek (though
concentrated in the lower reaches). The
lack of eroding banks in the upper watershed
seems related to the quantity of road
protected rip-rapped bank.
An assessment of the sediment contributions
of tributary streams was beyond the scope of
the streamwalk, as was upstream sediment
Alan Anderson
There were 518 significant pools. Of these
pools, large woody debris was the formation
mechanism for 195 pools or 37.6% of total
pools. Rock resistance, including rip-rap,
was responsible for 132 pools, or 25.5% of
total pools. Vegetative resistance, due to
shrubs or grasses or roots, was responsible
for 188 or 36.3% of all pools. Beaver were
responsible for only 3 pools, or 0.6% of total
pools. There were a total of 64 pools
measured 4 or more feet deep, which is
12.4% of the total significant pools. Large
woody debris was responsible for 39 or 61%
of the deep pools, 16 or 25% were
attributable to rock, and 9 or 14%
attributable to vegetative resistance.
loading. However, the Water Quality
Restoration Plan and Total Maximum Daily
Loads for the Upper Lolo Creek TMDL
Planning Area (or Upper Lolo TMDL),
released by DEQ in April 2003, which
assessed the Granite, East Fork and West
Fork tributary watersheds, estimated that a
total delivery of 178 tons/year of forest road
generated sediment was entering these
tributaries. (This breaks down to a delivery
of 2.5 tons/yr./mi. of forest road and does
not include Highway 12.) Additionally,
Land & Water Consulting conducted a
cursory report of winter road traction sand
application and estimated a sediment
Sediment in Lolo Creek at stream mile 19.9 (just
below Grave Creek) following a July 2002 rain
delivery of 729.5 tons to Lolo Creek from
Highway 12 (Land & Water, 2000). Based
on these sediment yields alone, sediment
input into Lolo Creek appears to be a critical
factor affecting stream morphology and
fisheries production.
Reach Descriptions26
Reach 7:
West Fork/Lee Creek Area to East
Fork Bridge
This 2798-foot subreach is mostly Lolo
National Forest land. In many respects, it is
(Habitat Alteration numbers refer to stream mile
points on reference maps)
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the least impaired reach surveyed. Mature
canopy encompasses 90% of each bank.
Pool frequency is the highest surveyed,
sand were observed at bridge crossings and
rip-rapped bank locations adjacent to the
creek throughout the reach (and stream
length). Due to the low energy of the stream
in this upper reach and observed areas of
active deposition, a percentage of these
sediment inputs remains stored within this
subreach. The substrate is firm and stable at
base flow conditions and does not appear to
be actively aggrading.
Woody debris is abundant and assured in the West
Fork/Lee Creek to East Fork subreach because of
the continous canopy of mature trees most of its
totaling 53 pools and averaging 18.9 pools/
1000 feet of stream length. Woody debris is
abundant, responsible for 45% of pools
present. This reach has the highest
frequency of pieces of woody debris, at over
68 pieces per 1000/ft stream length. Almost
10% of the stream length, or 247 feet is
undercut streambank, attesting to the strong
vegetative cover present.
Riparian vegetation throughout the reach is
vigorous, diverse in species composition and
multigenerational. Floodplains and point
bars are active and functional with visible,
recent sediment deposition and riparian
vegetation establishment. This subreach is
classified as “Proper Functioning
Condition” due to its stability and overall
The heavy tree cover assures both future
woody debris abundance for cover and pool
formation and moderated stream
temperatures. The stream in this subreach,
however, is heavily sedimented and has no
pools four feet or deeper in depth. Aside
from sediment loads, no additional
impairments to this reach were observed.
Channel substrate of this subreach is
composed of large quantities of coarse sand.
It is unknown whether this is native
material, upstream road generated sediment
or traction sand generated from winter
sanding of Highway 12, or (likely) a
combination of the three. Clear evidence of
direct sediment inputs from winter traction
Aggregations of woody debris are very
important in forming pools and overhead cover
necessary to yearlong habitat requirements of
most trout species of Lolo Creek.
Habitat Alteration Locations27:
At Lee Creek Campground: Sediment from
Highway 12 bridge
(Habitat Alteration numbers refer to stream mile
points on reference maps)
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
East Fork Bridge to Lolo Hot
Springs footbridge
This 4488-foot subreach is dominantly part
of the Lolo National Forest. It has only
about 3% mature tree canopy along its bank.
In contrast to the upstream section which
has an estimated 1400 trees as potential
large woody debris, only about 83 mature
trees were identified as potential large
woody debris (LWD) in this reach. Due in
part to the lack of large woody debris, but
relatively strong shrub-dominated banks
(97%), 31 of 39 pools (79%) are attributable
to meander scour of vegetative banks, and
only 10% attributable to large woody debris.
Two pools are attributable to light beaver
activity in this reach. A relatively high 725
feet of undercut bank represents 16% of
stream length, attesting to the strong bank
condition of this reach.
This subreach is dominated by willow
communities and sedge meadows resulting
in the aforementioned bank stability and
lack of LWD recruitment potential. Width
to depth ratio (W/D) increases slightly
throughout the subreach and point bars also
increase in size. This abrupt change is likely
tied to the increased drainage area and
additional discharge of the East Fork of Lolo
Creek. This subreach is classified as
“Proper Functioning Condition”, with
minor exceptions in locations directly
adjacent to Highway 12.
The major impairments to this stream
include sedimentation from Highway 12 and
upstream sources, lack of large woody
debris and lack of mature trees for future
woody debris recruitment. In addition, the
lack of tree canopy limits shade and
temperature moderation. A modest 75 feet
of rip-rap and 20 feet of eroding bank were
Lolo Creek below the East Fork and above Lolo
Hot Springs has dominantly shrub canopy and
numerous undercut meander pools.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
30.9: 75 feet rip-rap and sediment into the
Lolo Hot Springs foot bridge to
Highway 12 bridge below Lolo Hot
This 2842-foot subreach flows through
private land. This reach has only an
estimated 7% mature treed banks. The
upper portion of this reach is in good
vegetative state, as indicated by 280 feet, or
10%, undercut banks. However, there were
only 13 pools present, at a low frequency of
4.6/1000 ft. Most were created by
vegetative scour (46%) or artificially place
rock and rip-rap(46%), and only 1 pool (8%)
attributable to large woody debris was
Stream modification due to the presence of
the campground and Highway 12 have
adversely affected this reach. There is 550
feet of rip-rap, or 19.4% of stream length
associated with both highway and
campground bank rip-rap alteration (193.5 ft
rip-rap/1000 ft stream length). Streambank
vegetation has been converted to grass on
about 10% of streambank length, which
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
generally is weaker than shrub or tree lined
banks. Grazing and mowing connected to
the Lolo Hot Springs operation contributes
to weaker vegetation and banks. An
estimated 300 feet of active eroding banks
are attributable to livestock grazing and
campground activities. Additionally, road
traction sand from Highway 12 is being
actively deposited in Lolo Creek at the
Highway 12 and rip-rapped stream banks
750 feet of rip-rap below Granite Creek is
typical of the resulting lack of habitat
features such as pools or cover.
adjacent to Highway 12. This subreach
would be classified as “Functional At
Risk” with a downward trend due to the
sediment introduction and reduction in
stream bank stability by camper generated
recreational impacts at the Hot Springs.
Additionally, equine grazing and associated
bank trample, riparian vegetation reduction
and quantity of rip-rap within the subreach
contribute to the “Functional At Risk”
At Lolo Hot Springs: 400 feet Highway
12 rip-rap
At Lolo Hot Springs: 150 feet
campground related rip-rap
Highway 12 Bridge below Lolo
Hot Springs to Powell Creek
Meadow Bridge
This 4858-foot subreach flows through
private land. It has a modest 6.1 pools per
1000/ft, and only one is greater than 4 feet in
depth. About 30 % of streambank length
has mature trees as potential large woody
debris. The “meadow” has old stumps
throughout, reflecting the previous forest
canopy that as present on this reach. Only 6
of 30 pools (20%) in this reach are formed
by large woody debris, reflecting the lack of
large tree canopy on this reach. However,
10 of the 30 pools are a result of vegetative
meander scour reflecting the strong brushy
banks that compensate in part for the lack of
LWD. There is 1005 feet of rip-rap, or 206.8
ft rip-rap/1000-ft. stream length that is
primarily associated with Highway 12.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
This subreach is considered
“Nonfunctional” due to quantity of riprapped stream bank and overall lack of
function in the upper half of the subreach.
The length of rip-rapped bank reduces
stream complexity by reducing stream
length, increasing W/D and effectively
excluding a natural riparian zone.
Additionally, this area is a direct source of
sediment from road sanding activities of
Highway 12 during winter months.
30.1: Active eroding bank-100 due to
livestock-fence at active channel edge
30.0: Active Eroding bank-50 ft due to
29.9: Active Eroding bank-50 ft due to
29.8: Active Eroding bank-100 ft due to
campground mowing
Once the creek enters the meadow complex
below Spring Gulch, the riparian zone is
very much intact and could be considered
“Functional At Risk” with an upward
trend. Evidence exists throughout the
meadow portion of the subreach that the
area is healing and rejuvenating from the
effects of past grazing and logging activities
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
in the meadow. The stream banks in this
area are largely composed of sedges and
decadent alder stands. However, willow
communities are beginning to re-establish
and with continued grazing absence should
prosper and further increase the area’s
riparian functionality.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
44 pieces of LWD/1000 ft of mostly old
legacy large woody debris. Over time,
natural decay and flushing is expected to
reduce the amount of LWD in this reach.
Strong shrub component contributes to the
estimated 1120 feet of undercut streambanks
along this reach as well as forms 22 or 45%
of significant pools in this reach. A
naturally occurring 250 feet of eroding bank
was observed.
There is a total of 1005 ft of Highway 12
associated rip-rap in 4 locations.
Powell Creek Meadow Bridge to
Highway 12 State Maintenance
This 5386-foot subreach flows through
private land. Only 10 % of bank vegetation
is estimated to have mature trees, reflecting
past timber harvest of much of the
streambank along this reach.
Approximately 24 of 49 pools are a result of
legacy large woody debris that remains, in
large part, from large woody debris
conditions prior to timber harvest that took
Aggregated large woody debris ½ mile below
Granite Creek has created a large pool and
overhead cover important to trout, especially
during winter.
place some time ago. There remains about
Representative stream conditions above
Highway 12 Maintenance Site. Large woody
debris transported into this reach or old
legacy woody debris provides some pool
formation material as well as overhead cover.
The sinuosity of this subreach noticeably
increases below the meadow bridge and is
apparently related to the increased
complexity generated by the established and
stable willow communities and the increased
quantity and size of the LWD present.
Minor channel braiding was encountered at
the extreme lower end of the meadow, but
did not reflect channel instability. Based on
the health and function of the riparian area
and channel, this subreach is considered
“Proper Functioning Condition”, but the
need for future LWD recruitment exists for
habitat complexity to persist in the future.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
Page 33
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
No specific locations.
Reach 7 Summary
The overall rating of riparian health for
Reach 7 was Functional At Risk with an
upward trend. This rating was based on the
function of the majority of riparian area as a
whole with the exception of stream length
between the Hot Springs and the beginning
of the meadow complex at stream mile 28.7.
A stream discharge of 43.7 cfs was
measured within the lower meadow complex
(PCTC) on 8/27/03. Using a stratified
Wolman pebble count, the median particle
size (D50) was calculated to be 52 mm, but it
should be noted that bed material varied
within the reach from coarse sand to cobble
sized substrate and the cross-section was
taken low in the reach which was dominated
by larger material. Further channel
measurements indicated a Rosgen C4 stream
reaching the stream from this source. The
rip-rap has shortened the stream by cutting
off historic channels, which increases stream
gradient, stream energy and power and
adverse effects on downstream reaches and
landowners. As a result of these alterations,
there are only 13 pools in this reach or 1.3
pools/1000 ft stream length. Pools are nearly
equal in LWD or rock originated. There are
only 10.1 pieces of large woody debris/
1000 feet of stream length.
This subreach is classified as
“Nonfunctional” due to the overall lack of
channel and riparian complexity,
channelization of the subreach, evidence of
pool filling, increasing W/D and lack of
potential of LWD recruitment and/or future
riparian area enhancement or function.
Reach 6:
Highway 12 State Maintenance
Site to Cedar Run Creek
This 9662-foot reach flows through land
almost all privately owned. This reach is
dominated by Highway 12 rip-rap, occurring
on 5140 feet of stream or 53% of stream
length. This is 534 ft rip-rap per 1000 feet
of streamlength. In addition, there are 380
feet of eroding bank due to associated riprap. Although 40 percent of the streambank
is mature forest that could contribute LWD
to streams, it is highly unlikely to be
allowed to remain because of perceived risk
to Highway 12 and paralleling powerline.
The extent of this rip-rap contributes large
amounts of sediment to Lolo Creek from
sanding operations. Much of the rip-rap has
been buried by highway sand that is
evidence of the large amounts of sediment
Lack of pools or cover is typical of the subreach
from the Highway 12 Maintenance site to Cedar
Run Creek. Warm summer temperatures and
winter icing are aggravated by wide shallow
channels that offer little protection for
overwintering trout.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
26.8 500 ft Highway 12 rip-rap
26.2: logged riparian area
25.8: 1650 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
25.6: 100 ft eroding right bank
25.1: 1260 ft Highway 12 rip-rap
24.9: 900ft Highway 12 rip-rap and 250-ft
eroding bank
Page 34
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
no pools 4 feet or deeper in this nearly three
mile long reach.
Cedar Run Creek to Lolo Work
Center Bridge
The upper approximately 40% of this
14,837-foot reach flows through land owned
by Plum Creek while the lower 60% is
managed by the Lolo National Forest. This
reach is heavily dominated by Highway 12
rip-rap, comprising 5390 feet or 36.3% of
the streamlength. This represents 363.3 feet
This subreach continues the
“Nonfunctional” trend begun in the
previous reach due to rip-rap imposed
channelization and loss of stream length due
to Highway 12. In localized areas not
directly adjacent to Highway 12 riparian
vegetation is vigorous and providing
overhanging cover. Unfortunately, these
areas are few in number and small in size
compared to the overall subreach length and
therefore offer little increase in channel
complexity or habitat. Road sanding
continues to be a sediment source in areas
adjacent to Highway 12.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
24.8: 180’ eroding high bank at dispersed
24.4: 270 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
23.9: 1800 ft Highway 12 rip-rap and 270’
8 ft high eroding bank
23.6: 330 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
23.2: 1140 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
23.1: 650 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
22.4: 1200 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
Extensive rip-rap dominates the reach upstream
of the Lolo Work Center and offers little
yearlong habitat for trout. Photo looking
downstream taken from bridge accessing
PCTC land around stream mile 26.7.
of rip-rap per 1000 feet stream length. Of
the remaining streambank, much is covered
by forest canopy (55%) but most of this will
probably not be allowed to contribute to
instream large woody debris because of its
proximity to Highway 12 and paralleling
powerline. Only 4.2 pieces of large woody
debris/1000 feet of streamlength are present.
This is among the lowest LWD loading of
any reach evaluated.
This reach has the lowest frequency of pools
of any reach evaluated, having only 1
pool/1000 feet streamlength. Of the 15
pools present, 40% originate from large
woody debris while rock, primarily rip-rap,
is responsible for the remainder. There are
Lolo Work Center Bridge to
Private Railroad Car bridge above
Grave Creek
This 9451-foot reach is about 40% National
Forest in the upper portion and private in the
lower 60%. It is the reach most dominated
by rip-rap, having 5350 feet or 56.6% of the
stream length directly affected. Indirectly
this amount of rip-rap affects reaches
between rip-rap with increased energy and
reduced woody debris recruitment. This
amounts to 566.1 ft/1000 feet of
streamlength. It has a meager 10.9 pieces of
large woody debris/1000 ft streamlength,
and only 2.1 pools per 1000 linear feet of
stream. The 45% of its banks in mature trees
Page 35
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
can contribute little LWD to the stream
because it is adjacent to Highway 12 and
would likely be removed if it were to enter
the stream channel as highway maintenance
program. The large amount of highway
paralleling the stream contributes large
vegetation is vigorous and providing
overhanging cover in places. Unfortunately,
these areas are few in number and small in
size compared to the overall subreach length
and therefore offer little increase in channel
complexity or habitat.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
22.3: 570 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
22.2: 300 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
21.7: 1100 feet Highway 12 rip-rap w/
powerline on opposite bank
20.9: 780 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
20.5: 600 feet Highway 12 rip-rap w/
powerline on opposite bank
Reach 6 Summary
Representative rock scour pool below Lolo
Work Center. Above normal bedload transport
often reduces expected size of such pools in
Lolo Creek.
amounts of sediment to the stream from
sanding operations.
As deduced from the above description, this
subreach is considered “Nonfunctional”
due to rip-rap induced channelization and
loss of stream length to Highway 12. Again,
in localized areas, usually meanders, not
directly adjacent to Highway 12 riparian
Reach 6 is characterized by as an extremely
confined channel with limited quantities of
quality riparian vegetation or habitat. The
root of these deficiencies is clearly the
extensive quantities of rip-rap found
throughout the reach length. Road traction
sand continues to be delivered in highly riprapped areas due to the narrow width
separating Highway 12 from the creek. As
the creek looses length (sinuosity), the
channel slope and stream power increases.
As stream power increases, bed shear stress
also increases and is the mechanism which
can transport larger sized particles. The lack
of pools in this reach is certainly due to a
lack of formative features, but also likely
tied to pool infilling during run-off events.
Stream discharge measured 58.2 cfs on
8/27/03, while the median particle size
measured 37 mm. Further channel
measurements resulted in a B3 Rosgen
channel type associated with the narrower
valley type and steeper channel grade.
Woody debris as seen on right bank is often
swept to the side of channels because of the
incised nature of the channel and/or material
is not long enough to anchor on both sides
of the channel.
As described throughout the subreach
discussions, Reach 6 is in a
“Nonfunctional” condition. This condition
is tied directly to the inversely proportional
Page 36
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
quantities of rip-rap and quality riparian
cover and function. Furthermore, little in
the way of management options exist to
enhance the reach due to the proximity of
Highway 12 to the creek.
quantities, overall poor riparian function and
high W/D ratios. All of these variables lead
to extreme diurnal and annual temperature
fluctuations, as well as promote anchor ice
growth, ice jams and associated scour.
Areas of localized aggradation were
observed in meanders downstream of
channelized reaches.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
20.5: Steep eroding skid trail near stream
but not contributing sediment to the stream
at this time
20.1: 800 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
20.1: 200 feet ranch rip-rap
19.5: 1220 feet Highway 12 rip-rap
Below Grave Creek much stream length lacks
significant structure and little large woody debris.
Note that mature trees as potential woody debris
only remain on one side of the channel.
This 5333-foot subreach flows through land
almost all privately owned. This reach is
mostly away from Highway 12 and only has
Reach 5:
Lolo Creek Campground Bridge to
downstream end of Karl Tyler
property near Potato Gulch
Private Railroad Car bridge above
Grave Creek to Lolo Creek
Campground Bridge
This 4805-foot subreach has substantial
impact from rip-rap which totals 2320 feet
or 48% of stream length, and 482.8 feet per
1000 feet of streamlength. With only 8
pools (1.6 pools/1000 feet of streamlength
and only 7.7 pieces of LWD per 1000 linear
feet of stream, there is little quality fish
habitat in this reach. Of the 5 rock pools,
three were directly attributable to rip-rap.
Only two pools were attributable to LWD,
and no pools 4 feet or deeper were observed.
Like upstream reaches, the estimated 40 %
forest canopy will be precluded from
contributing much of its LWD potential due
to its proximity to Highway 12.
The “Nonfunctional” designation continues
in this subreach due to excessive rip-rap
Page 37
Old stumps on this reach are testimony to
the mature forests that once bordered much
of Lolo Creek and at one time provided
continuous supplies of large woody debris.
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
80 feet of rip-rap, or 15 feet/1000 ft
streamlength. However previous logging of
the sreambank has reduced woody debris
and future recruitment of wood to the
stream. There are 18.6 pieces per 1000 feet
of streamlength, which is mostly legacy
wood from when there was forest canopy
present. Eventually more of this material
will be lost through decay and flushing. Old
stumps are providing anchors for transported
LWD into this reach. Of the 25 pools, 8 or
32% are attributable to LWD, 7 pools or
Some low banks in this reach have eroded
where shrubs and trees have been replaced
with weaker grass root systems.
28% attributable to rock scour and 40
percent due to vegetative scour of shrubs
and grass banks. Encouraging was the
recruitment of young willows observed in
some areas and vigorous shrubs on much of
the streambank. Reduced livestock grazing
in this property has improved streambank
and fish habitat conditions.
In this subreach the valley widens and the
creek is not subjected to the channelized
effects of rip-rapped banks. The creek
leaves the Highway 12 corridor at the Lolo
Creek Campground and immediately
sinuosity increases, channel slope
accordingly decreases and riparian
vegetation drastically increases in diversity,
vigor, and zonal width with a functional and
accessible floodplain. Accordingly, W/D
drops from 44.2 above the campground to
29.9 below.
Overall system function and health begin to
deteriorate at property boundary and
downstream thereof. W/D increase, riparian
zonal width, vigor and diversity noticeably
decrease. The Tyler property was
apparently grazed quite intensely, but
currently is not under that management
regime. With the change in management,
the area is beginning to recover, but
continues to be relatively unstable both
vertically and laterally. Areas of active bank
erosion occur throughout the property
largely due to the upland, grass composed
bank structure and an overall lack of riparian
vegetation. Additionally, this area is subject
is active localized aggrading of bed material.
Based on the quantity of the aggraded
material, the source areas are likely both
inter and intra reach. The aggradation is
leading to further channel instability and
braiding in the lower subreach.
The subreach is classified as “Functional
At Risk” with an upward trend due to the
large area of channel instability in the lower
half of the subreach. The lower subreach is
slowly rejuvenating and would provide an
excellent location for restoration activities in
the central Lolo Creek watershed.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
18.8: 400’ 3’ high eroding bank due to
removal of trees and shrubs
18.6: 75’ eroding 3’ high bank undercutting
Highway 12 ROW fence
18.4: 75’ eroding 3’ high bank
18.3: 80’ 4’high active eroding bank
undercutting Highway 12 ROW fence
Page 38
Karl Tyler Property lower
boundary to mouth of Bear Creek
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
This 11,352-foot subreach is heavily
impacted with a mile (5280 feet) of rip-rap
or 46% of the stream length directly
affected, amounting to 465.1 ft/1000 feet
streambank length. The lowest pool
frequency was observed on this relatively
long reach. Only 7 pools or 0.6 pools per
1000 feet streamlength occur. Five of the
seven pools are formed by rock, some of
which are related to rip-rap. None of the
pools are 4 feet or deeper. There are only
3.2 pieces of LWD per 1000 feet of stream
length, which ties for the lowest frequency
18.2: 580’ Highway 12 rip-rap with
powerline on opposite bank
18.0: 600’ Highway 12 rip-rap
17.7: 350’ Highway 12 rip-rap
17.2: 900’ Highway 12 rip-rap
17.0: 720’ Highway 12 rip-rap
16.8: 630’ Highway 12 rip-rap
16.7: 630’ Highway 12 rip-rap
16.5: 1500’ Highway 12 rip-rap
Reach 5 Summary
Stream discharge for Reach 5, measured on
8/27/03 was 59.28 cfs. Median particle size
measured 47 mm. Channel geometry
measurements yielded a width to depth ratio
of 44.2, the highest of the seven reaches and
an entrenchment ratio of 1.1, resulting in a
F4 Rosgen stream type. Width to depth
ratio of this magnitude are extremely
vulnerable to excessively diurnal and season
temperature fluctuations, as well as the
promotion of anchor ice development and
the related potential of ice scour events.
Throughout the length of Lolo Creek, large
woody debris has frequently been cut into
smaller lengths reducing its ability to anchor to
one location and contribute to pool formation.
of LWD of the reaches sampled. Like other
reaches paralleled by extensive rip-rap and
Highway 12, the 47% of streambanks
having potential woody debris will not be
allowed to contribute and remain in stream
because of its proximity to Highway 12.
Overall riparian health and function of the
was classified as “Nonfunctional” due to
the extent of rip-rap induced channelization
in the upper and central areas of Reach 5.
Localized areas of functional riparian zones
were found downstream of the Lolo Creek
W/D immediately increases in this subreach
and corresponding rip-rapped
channelization. The subreach is essentially
a continuous riffle with little to no refugia.
Correspondingly, the subreach is classified
as “Nonfunctional”. As with similar
reaches, direct sedimentation of road
traction sand from Highway 12 occurs
throughout areas adjacent to the highway.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
Page 39
A well-established woody debris-caused pool,
but lack of mature trees in subreach 5-C offer
little opportunity for recruitment to replace
needed woody debris to the stream.
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
campground to the lower Tyler property
boundary. As previously described, these
areas that area Functional At Risk have
restoration potential and could provide
localized refugia in the upper central portion
of the watershed.
Reach 4:
Mouth of Bear Creek to Lolo Trail
Ranch orange plastic diversion
adjacent to Highway 12
This 10,296-foot subreach flows through
privately owned land, except for crossing
two small corners of State of Montana land.
The upper portion (0.80 mi.) of this
subreach belongs to a private landowner
different from the Lolo Trails Ranch.
Although heavily logged in the past, the
shrubs in the upper portion are responsible
for a modest 6.5 pools/1000 lineal feet of
stream. There are some raw sloughing
grassy banks (and estimated 10% of banks
are grass) which offer some opportunity for
short-term habitat improvement projects. A
paltry 12% of the streambank has mature
trees, most of which occur on the State of
Montana lands in the middle portion of this
subreach. Because of the lack of mature
trees on this site, the large woody debris
accumulation is a modest 19.4 pieces
LWD/1000 lineal feet of stream. Long term
restoration of large woody debris through
reforestation of these streambanks offer
opportunities to make this one of the more
productive reaches evaluated. There is only
75 feet of rip-rap along this nearly 2 mile
subreach. And, while 375 feet were
determined to have accelerated bank
sloughing, another 390 feet of undercut bank
suggest some of the banks once had strong
vegetative cover to hold such undercuts.
Four pools of the 67 pools in this reach were
4 or more feet deep. Excessive bedload
appears to have filled in some pools to
reduce their potential capacity in the upper
portion of this subreach. Cattle grazing on
the State section is modestly stressing some
of the streambank vegetation of this land,
although the channel remains stable.
This subreach is classified as “Functional
At Risk” with an upward trend especially in
the upper subreach where the cows have
been removed and the riparian vegetation is
re-establishing. With continued cattle
exclusion, riparian vegetation will return and
stream stability will increase. Localized
areas of aggrading material were observed
with source areas likely intra and upstream
Habitat Alteration Locations:
16.2: 120’ 6’ high eroding bank
16.2: 300’ of 3’high grassy eroding bank ¼
mi. below Bear Creek
16.1: 400’ of 4’high grassy eroding bank ¼
mi. below Bear Creek
15.7: 200’ of 3’ high grassy eroding bank
Lolo Trail Ranch orange plastic
diversion to Elk Meadows Bridge
This 4910-foot subreach flows through the
Lolo Trail Ranch private property. The
majority of this subreach’s streambanks
Irrigation diversion on Lolo Trail Ranch reduces
instream flow and diverts fish into the irrigation
Page 40
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
have been logged in the past, reducing
mature streambank trees to only an
estimated 5% of streambank length. This
has the effect of dramatically reducing
LWD recruitment to the stream. With only
15.7 pieces of LWD per 1000 lineal feet of
stream, the quantity of pools are only 5.1 per
1000 lineal feet. The low gradient
meandering nature of this subreach would be
expected to have higher pool frequency.
Most of the LWD observed was legacy
wood remaining from before the forest was
removed. Cattle grazing has created some
grassy streambanks, and 480 feet of eroding
grassy bank was observed in this reach. In
addition, there was an estimated 330 feet of
rip-rap in one portion of the stream which
appears to have been placed to save a grassy
meadow which was likely eroding because
of the lack of strong vegetation. . The
location of the rip-rap also seems to indicate
the creek has been channelized and pushed
to the south in order to maximize ground for
pasture and hay production. The likely
movement of the creek in this location has
disproportionately lengthened the channel
relative to the valley grade. The result is
downstream aggradation of bed material,
high W/D, slow stream velocities, channel
braiding and overall channel instability. It
was noted that some riparian tree length
woody debris had been bucked into shorter
lengths, which reduces the likelihood that it
will provide solid anchor for other woody
debris accumulations. Some streambank
fencing was in place, but appears to be to
close to the stream to allow an adequate
width of strong woody vegetation to become
reestablished for long term needs of the
stream. Cattle were observed on both sides
(including the streambanks) of this fencing
in some areas.
Based on the poor channel stability and
minimal health and function of the riparian
vegetation, this subreach is classified as
“Functional At Risk” with an unapparent
trend. The trend is conflicting due to the
presence of riparian fencing on one side of
the creek, yet evidence of cattle usage is
quite evident on the river right side of the
creek. With full cattle exclusion from the
riparian area, the trend could easily turn in
the upward direction and the area could
Habitat Alteration Locations:
14.1: 180’ of 4’ high eroding grass bank ¼
mi. below OZ diversion-has fenced out
14.0: 130 ft rip-rap
13.6: 150 feet of 5’high eroding grass bank
w/ 150’ more 2’high 100 yds. downstream
Low grassy bank (in background) without
tree or shrub protection is vulnerable to
large channel change.
Elk Meadows Bridge to Mytty
This 15259-foot subreach is largely on the
Lolo Trail Ranch. Only about 5% of the
streambanks have mature trees that were
estimated to only amount to about 140
mature trees over this nearly 3 mile long
subreach. There are only 4.3 pieces of LWD
per 1000 feet of streamlength, almost all
legacy wood remaining from a previous
forest onsite. Much of the streambank is
vegetated with grass interspersed with single
or small clumps of alder, which is a species
Page 41
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
less preferred by livestock. Some of this
stream subreach has been fenced from
livestock, but the fencing is less than 20 feet
from the stream for the most part,
diminishing the width of the potential
vegetative recovery. Pools in this reach
12.9: 200’ Highway 12 rip-rap
12.6: Livestock bank damage at Mouth of
South Fork
12.3: 150’ of 3’ high eroding grassy bank
12.1: 250’ of ranch rip-rap
12.0: Woodman diversion with 3’ high
broken rock drop (no barrier)
11.6: 200’ of 3’ high eroding grass bank
11.6: 40’ eroding bank would benefit from
log spur
11.1 150 feet of Highway 12 rip-rap
10.9: 200 feet of Highway 12 rip-rap
Reach 4 Summary
Streambank fencing below Elk Meadows bridge
has prevented livestock grazing, allowing some
sprouting of cottonwood suckers from adjacent
old tree.
occur at a rate of only 1.9 pools per 1000
lineal feet of stream, which is among the
lowest pool frequency rates found in the
survey. In addition to impact from forest
removal and grazing, an addition 950 feet of
rip-rap was noted. While about 550 feet of
rip-rap was attributable to Highway 12,
some 400 feet has been added to stabilize
eroding banks. As a result of bank
instability due to the combination of
grazing, reduction of LWD and upstream
rip-rap, there were 1090 feet of eroding bank
In areas where riparian vegetation did exist,
the riparian zone was very narrow due to
cattle and hay production pressure. The
subreach overall is considered “Functional
At Risk” with a downward trend and is very
close to being in a “Nonfunctional”
condition; cattle exclusion is the make or
break variable for this subreach.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
The cross for this reach was immediately
above the Elk Meadows Road bridge within
the Lolo Trail Ranch. Stream discharge on
8/27/03 was measured at 50.5 cfs, a decrease
of 8.7 cfs from Reach 5. The majority of the
discharge decrease is likely tied to the Lolo
Trail Ranch diversion found within the
lower portion of Reach 4. Substrate particle
size measurements produced a median
particle size of 18 mm. This was by far the
smallest D50 encountered in any of the seven
reach cross sections. The small diameter
class found in Reach 4 is tied to the gradient
reduction, channel lengthening and
corresponding reduction in stream power
and aggradation observed within the reach.
Further cross sectional measurements
resulted in a width to depth ratio of 17.0, the
lowest of all reaches, and entrenchment ratio
of 5.4 resulting in a C4 Rosgen stream type.
Riparian function of the reach overall was
classified as “Functional At Risk” with an
unapparent trend. This classification is
largely the result of grazing pressures and
corresponding stream bank instability found
within the reach. This reach has the
potential to be functioning at a higher level
with the exclusion of cattle from the riparian
zone and the promotion of stream bank
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Reach 3:
8.0: 500 feet of ranch rip-rap
7.8: 300 feet of residential rip-rap
Reach 3 Summary
Mytty Bridge to Upper Forest
Boundary at Fort Fizzle
This 10,929-foot subreach flows almost all
through small private ownerships. Over 1/3
of this subreach has rip-rap along its banks,
totaling 3600 feet or averaging 329.4 feet/
1000 lineal feet of stream. Only about 10%
of the streambank has mature trees, and
LWD has been removed or flushed to a mere
4.5 pieces of LWD per 1000 feet of stream
length, or a total of 49 pieces of LWD for
this entire subreach. Tree length pieces of
wood appear to have been bucked into
shorter lengths, reducing their accumulation
potential. There was only one pool in this
two-mile length attributable to LWD, and
there were only 1.6 pools per 1000 feet of
stream length. At least 8 substantial lengths
of rip-rap were recorded, thus reducing the
stream’s ability to move and deposit bedload
and form new pools. About 20% of the
streambank was grass dominated which
suggests weaker streambanks for substantial
portions of this subreach.
This subreach is characterized by rip-rap
induced channelization, poor riparian health
and function, as well as numerous localized
areas of aggradation. Based upon these
observations this subreach is classified as
“Nonfunctional”. Additionally, numerous
highway associated sediment deposition
locations occur throughout the subreach.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
10.6: 600’ of 4’ high eroding grass bank
9.5: 1500 feet of Highway 12 rip-rap
9.2: 550 feet of Highway 12 rip-rap
9.0: 300 feet of Highway 12 rip-rap
8.4: 200 feet of residential rip-rap
8.1: 200 feet of residential rip-rap
8.1: 200 feet of residential rip-rap
Stream discharge was measured to be
104.73 cfs on 8/27/03. Median particle size
was measured at 80 mm, the largest D50 of
any reach. W/D measurements were 26.2
resulting in a B3 Rosgen stream type. This
reach is quite channelized throughout its
length and receives a significant quantity of
flow from the S. Fork of Lolo Creek. The
combination of these two variables results in
increased stream power and a corresponding
increase in the particle sizes the creek is able
to move. This explains the large increase in
particle size between Reaches 3 and 4 (D50
of 80 and 18 mm respectively). Due to the
length of channelization from rip-rap
protection of Highway 12 and adjacent
residential properties, and corresponding
lack of riparian function, the overall reach
was classified as “Nonfunctional”, with
little hope of increasing meaningful riparian
health and/or function.
Reach 2:
Upper Ft Fizzle Boundary to
Lower Ft. Fizzle boundary ¼ mi.
upstream of Mormon Peak Road
This 4540-foot reach is entirely on Lolo
National Forest administered lands.
Although a portion of the streambank has
some partial cutting, it is estimated to be
92% of streambanks dominated by mature
trees. It has a modest 4.4 pools per 1000
lineal feet, but 3.3 or ¾ of these pools are a
result of LWD. In addition, the aggregation
of pieces of LWD in this reach totaled 269
pieces or 59.3 pieces per 1000 lineal feet.
This quantity of LWD is only exceeded by
the Lee Creek subreach (also Forest Service
administered streambanks) which had 68.3
Page 43
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
pieces per 1000 lineal feet of stream. Most
important were the high quality of pools and
associated overhead cover. Five of the 15
LWD pools were four feet or deeper.
Frequently tree length pieces of this LWD
bridged the active channel, fostering
accumulations of smaller pieces. In addition,
the accumulations of LWD are fostering
considerable channel changing and
deposition of sorted gravels which provides
important spawning sized gravels in
accumulations. Abandoned channels form
backwaters important for overwintering and
high water refugia.
this reach was measure at 117.0 cfs on
8/27/03. W/D was measured at 29.6 and
median particle size was found to be 61mm
resulting in a C4 Rosgen stream type.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
6.5: 200 feet of natural eroding hillside 40
feet high
Reach 2 Summary:
This reach reflects near natural stream
conditions and is an important reference
when comparing conditions and habitat
potential on other stream reaches.
Reach 1:
Recent large woody debris recruitment at Ft.
Fizzle will provide important pool habitat now
and into the future. Note how tree length wood
bridges the channel to create anchor point for
additional floating woody debris.
There is no rip-rap in this reach, but 200 feet
of a naturally eroding terrace bank was
Riparian vegetation throughout the reach
was vigorous, diverse with a wide highly
functional floodplain and riparian area. This
reach is considered “Proper Functioning
Condition” and offers a snapshot of what
Lolo Creek likely used to look like and how
it used to function. Areas of aggraded
material were observed, but evidently were
generated upstream and were deposited
behind channel obstructions. Discharge in
Ft. Fizzle lower boundary to
Balsamroot Bridge
This 9557-foot subreach is dominantly
surrounded by small private owned land.
Depending on ownership, mature trees are
patchy along this subreach and estimated to
total about 30% of streambank length.
Reflecting on the wood available and
perhaps some from Ft. Fizzle upstream, this
reach has a respectable 34.7 pieces of LWD
per 1000 lineal feet of stream length, and 19
LWD caused pools or 2.0 LWD pools per
1000 lineal feet. Of the 33 pools in this
subreach, 12 were observed to be four feet
deep or deeper. However, due to some
bucking of tree-length LWD in this
subreach, few if any of the pools bridged the
entire active channel as occurred in the
reach upstream. While over ½ of the pools
in this reach are LWD formed, there are also
7 rock and 7 vegetatively formed pools.
There was a total of 820 feet of rip-rap noted
in 6 locations reflecting the small
ownerships, and an estimate 680 feet of
levee below the Mormon Peak bridge on the
left bank. All of these projects collectively
inhibit the stream from movements
Page 44
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the creek. The levees were presumably built
as to retard creek migration into the
irrigation ditch. These levees function
similar to rip-rap in preventing natural
lateral channel movement and sinuosity.
Localized areas of aggradation were
observed throughout the subreach, but were
not accompanied by areas of active incision.
Source areas of aggraded material are likely
upstream in channel erosion related to
decrease in stream length. Conversely, in a
number of localized areas, the floodplain
and natural channel processes were active
and functioning properly.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
Strawbales and alignment of diversion locally
known as “Maclay Diversion” traps almost all
downstream migrating fish into an unscreened
irrigation ditch and reduces downstream flows
while blocking upstream fish passage.
important to forming pools, side channels
and providing opportunities for bedload
As described above, riparian health and
function varied throughout this subreach.
The subreach overall is considered to be
“Functional At Risk” with a downward
trend. The impacts to the riparian zone are
largely generated from rip-rap installation
by the numerous small land owners along
the creek. Additionally, in the upper reach,
below at least two irrigation diversions
constructed levees were found adjacent to
6.3: 50’ rip-rap for bridge protection on
Mormon Peak bridge
6.2: 2.5 cfs diversion 100 ft downstream of
Mormon Peak bridge
6.1: 680 ft levee on left bank
6.0: Irrigation diversion and 4’ high dam
taking 8 cfs with 200’ and strawbale dike to
take water which is likely an complete
downstream fish barrier for small salmonids
during this flow.
5.8: 120’ Highway 12 rip-rap
5.7: 199’ of 3’ high eroding grassy bank on
Fournier property
5.0: 100’ of 6’ high eroding bank at RV
4.8: filled in side channels
4.7: 150’ of residential rip-rap
4.6: ¼ cfs diversion to trout pond
4.4: 300’ bridge rip-rap
The “Maclay Diversion”, like many other
diversions, dams the stream to increase water
levels into the ditch. Fall upstream movements
are likely inhibited by this structure as well by
adult fall spawners such as brown trout.
Balsamroot Bridge to Highway 93
This 10,507-foot subreach flows through
small private ownership lands. Residential
and agricultural improvements and rip-rap
have reduced mature tree cover to about 1%
of streambank length, while most banks not
rip-rapped have shrub or small tree
vegetation and an estimated 5% are grass
covered. Nearly one-fourth (24.6%) of the
Page 45
Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
stream length has rip-rap on one bank,
reducing the natural streambed functions of
this reach. The pool abundance ratio in this
subreach is a modest 5.2 pools per 1000
lineal feet. Of the 55 total pools in this
subreach, 23 were 4 foot deep or deeper,
attesting to some of the better quantity of
deep pools in the surveyed portion of Lolo
creek. Most of these deeper pools (15 of the
23) were a result of woody debris
This subreach is classified “Functional At
Risk”. This subreach appears to be unstable
both vertically and laterally. A large
quantity of bedload is be transported
through, and being deposited in, this part of
the Lolo Creek system. The deposition of
load is likely related to the decreased overall
gradient of Lolo Creek as it enters the
Bitterroot Valley. Floodplain width and
channel sinuosity increase in this lower
reach, which also contribute to substrate
deposition. Point bars in this subreach are
not being actively colonized by riparian
vegetation and promoting increases in the
4.3: 300 feet rip-rap with wood below
3.7: 400 feet rip-rap
3.7: 180 feet rip-rap
3.6: diversion on left bank with gravel
dike taking 1.5 cfs plus 90 feet riprap
3.4: Residential rip-rap
3.2: 300’ of 6’ high eroding bank
3.1: 500 feet of 5’ high eroding bank on
2.4: 120 feet rip-rap on right bank
2.3: 120’ feet eroding 6’ grass bank on left
2.2: 240 feet rip-rap on right bank
2.1: 350 feet rip-rap on left bank
Reach 1 Summary
Discharge above the Balsamroot bridge was
measured to be 49.5 cfs on 8/27/03, a
decrease of 67.5 cfs from Reach 2. Median
particle size was measure at 52 mm and
W/D was found to be 29.0, resulting in C4
Rosgen stream type. Riparian function was
considered to be “Functional At Risk” with
a downward trend, due to dewatering,
riparian and channel alteration, and overall
stream instability within the reach. The final
subreach, between the Highway 93 bridge
and the mouth of Lolo Creek, was not
evaluated during this streamwalk due to low
flows and access issues.
Streamwalk Summary
Large bars forming from bedload
deposition are common and contribute to
eroding streambanks that have been
weakened by removal of shrubs and trees.
W/D. Additionally, numerous areas of raw,
unvegetated stream banks were found
throughout the subreach.
Habitat Alteration Locations:
Lolo Creek has been substantially altered by
man’s influence, as seen in streambank
vegetation condition, large woody debris
removal, sediment increases, irrigation
withdrawals and diversions, channel
shortening, channel modifications and riprap. With the exception of National Forest
lands, nearly the entire length of stream
surveyed has had the quality of fisheries
habitat reduced substantially.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Without intervention on current human
activities adversely affecting Lolo Creek, we
will see a continued downward trend of the
fishery. Understanding the long-term needs
of the stream is important to the users and
landowners adjacent to the stream. With
landowner and citizen understanding and a
will to improve the fisheries habitat, there
are a number of long term projects that
could move restoration of this stream
Tributaries of Main Stem Lolo Creek
The tributary streams of main stem Lolo
Creek may represent the best opportunities
for fish habitat improvement in the
watershed, owing to the significant problems
of the main stem and the spawning and
rearing habitat those tributaries provide.
Unfortunately, many of these tributaries are
barred by fish passage barriers at their
lowest sections. The following summarizes
the findings of the MFWP survey of Lolo
Creek’s tributaries.
Bear Creek is a small, third order tributary
of the main stem Lolo Creek located at mile
16.3 on the north side of Lolo Creek. Bear
Creek flows mostly through Plum Creek
Timber Company (PCTC) lands and other
private lands, with Lolo NF-owned
headwaters. Much of the drainage has been
roaded and timber harvesting has occurred.
Introduced brook trout (range 3”-8”) and
small rainbow trout (4”) dominate the lowest
reaches. Brook trout of up to 11” dominate
the middle sections, and small westslope
cutthroat dominate the upper reaches.
Habitat in the lower reaches is good. Brown
trout are also found throughout Bear Creek.
Camp Creek is another small, second order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
located at mile 15.2 on Lolo Creek’s north
side. Camp Creek’s lowest sections are in
PCTC lands that are managed for timber
production, but the rest is mostly Lolo NF.
A road crossing about a mile up has a
perched culvert, which may be a complete
fish passage barrier. Only westslope
cutthroat trout in the 2”-7” range were found
in the 2003 MFWP survey.
Chief Joseph Gulch is a very small, second
order tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
located at mile 23.0 on Lolo Creek’s south
side. Chief Joseph Gulch’s upper reaches are
on the Lolo NF and lack water seasonally.
The lower half-mile flows through logged
PCTC land. Only small westslope
cutthroats and immature cutthroats or
rainbows were found in the 2003 MFWP
survey of Chief Joseph Gulch.
Cloudburst Creek is a small, second order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
located about 4 miles downstream of Lolo
Hot Springs at mile 24.2 on the south side.
Land ownership in the drainage is
predominantly owned by Lolo NF with
PCTC lands in the lower ! of the drainage..
Portions of the middle drainage are
surrounded by recent timber harvest.
Portions of this drainage were affected by
the microburst that caused extensive
blowdown in the Lolo Drainage in 1996.
This tributary likely historically supported
westslope cutthroat trout, sculpins and
possibly a run of bull trout from the lower
river. 2003 MFWP sampling revealed that
introduced brook trout (2”-11”) now
dominate the upper, middle and lower
reaches of the stream. Westslope cutthroat
trout of similar size are also present
throughout the drainage in moderate
numbers. In 2003, MFWP also detected low
numbers of brown trout, bull trout and
brook/bull trout hybrids. Westslope
cutthroat trout near the mouth are also likely
hybridized with rainbow trout. No sculpins
were observed in 2003.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Cooper Creek is a small third order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
located on West Fork Butte Creek’s south
side about 5 miles above that stream’s
mouth on Lolo Creek. Cooper Creek is
entirely on Lolo NF land that is roaded and
peppered with large clear cuts. The 2003
MFWP survey showed only moderate
numbers of 3”-6” westslope cutthroat trout
as the only fish species in Cooper Creek.
Davis Creek is a small, second order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
located just below the mouth of Grave Creek
at mile 20.2 on Lolo Creek’s south side.
Most of Davis Creek is on Lolo NF land,
with the lowest half-mile on private land. A
few small westslope cutthroat trout and
unidentified cutthroat or rainbow trout or
cutthroat/rainbow hybrids were found in the
2003 MFWP survey.
East Fork of Lolo Creek is a significant
third order tributary of the main stem Lolo
Creek, which begins where the East Fork
joins the West Fork of Lolo Creek about a
mile above Lolo Hot Springs at mile 31.0.
Westslope cutthroat in the 3”-8” range
dominate the East Fork, although a few
brook trout (2”-8”) and brown trout (10”)
were found in the 2003 MFWP survey.
Brook trout numbers almost equaled
westslope cutthroat numbers in the middle
sections of the East Fork above Lost Park
Creek in the 2003 survey. The East Fork is
closely paralleled by a road and flows
mostly through PCTC lands that are
managed for timber production and Lolo NF
land in ‘checkerboard’ ownership. The
upper portions, on Lolo NF land, have good
habitat. No sculpins were observed in 2003
anywhere in the East Fork. Although not
detected in MFWP’s survey, this tributary
likely also historically supported bull trout
and may still contain low numbers.
Granite Creek is another significant
tributary of Lolo Creek, about 7 miles long
and entering just below Lolo Hot Springs at
mile 29.4 on the north side. Like Cloudburst
Creek and Grave Creek, this tributary likely
historically supported westslope cutthroat
trout, sculpins and bull trout. Bull trout (in
low numbers) and westslope cutthroats were
found in the 2003 MFWP survey. Some
westslope cutthroats had parasites. Brook
trout were most common in the middle and
lower reaches. Low densities of fish were
noted in upper reaches. Hybridization
between bull trout and brookies, which is
believed to be one cause (among many) of
the threatened status of bull trout, was
observed in Granite Creek.
Grave Creek is a significant third order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek. It
enters Lolo Creek from the north at mile
20.3. Grave Creek reportedly was named
for the gravesite of a trapper named
Lawrence, whose name was transformed to
“Lo-Lo” by Native Americans (and later
used for the pass, mountain, creek and
town). Grave Creek’s upper section is on
Lolo NF, the middle section is heavily
logged PCTC, and the lowest reach is
composed of parcels of private land.
Although this tributary historically
supported westslope cutthroat trout and bull
trout, low numbers of cutthroats (in the
middle and upper reaches only) and no bull
trout were noted in the 2003 MFWP survey.
The other trout species noted were brook
trout, brown trout and rainbow trout, all
introduced species. Sculpins were present in
the lower reaches. The lower section’s
riparian zone was in poor condition in 2003
due to heavy livestock grazing.
Howard Creek is a second order tributary
of the main stem Lolo Creek located 2 miles
above Grave Creek at mile 22.4 on Lolo
Creek’s north side. Howard Creek is about
7 miles long, and flows west to east through
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
alternating sections of roaded and logged
PCTC and Lolo NF land. The 2003 MFWP
survey noted lots of shade, large in-stream
wood and a culvert that posed no barrier to
fish movement in the lower section. In the
late summer of 2003, the North Fork
Howard Fire burned through the headwaters
of the drainage. Westslope cutthroat trout
are found throughout, but are most
numerous in the lower reaches. The same
goes for brook trout in the 4”-10” range.
Only one rainbow trout (9”) was noted in the
2003 survey of Howard Creek. Brown trout
in the 4”-7” range were also most numerous
in the lower reaches.
John Creek is a very small second order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek
which, if it still reached Lolo Creek, would
enter at mile 8.3 on Lolo Creek’s south side.
John Creek is diverted into irrigation and
does not connect to the creek. It drains the
NW side of Mormon Peak. The upper mile
is Lolo NF, and the lower mile is split
between PCTC and private land. No fish
species were noted in the 2003 survey.
Lost Park Creek is a small third order
tributary stream that enters the East Fork of
Lolo Creek from the west about 3½ miles
above the confluence with the West Fork.
Westslope cutthroat trout and, to a lesser
extent, brook trout, are found throughout.
White parasitic worms were attached behind
Marshall Creek is a small second order
tributary stream that enters West Fork Butte
Creek’s south side about 2 miles above the
confluence with the South Fork of Lolo
Creek. All sites sampled in the 2003 MFWP
survey were dominated by eastern brook
trout, which was the only species noted.
Marshall Creek is entirely on roaded and
logged Lolo NF land.
Martin Creek is a small second order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek that
enters from the south at mile 27.0. Martin
Creek’s upper reach is in a section of PCTC
land intensively managed for timber
production, and the middle reach is in an
unroaded and unlogged section of Lolo NF
land. The lower third of a mile is on private
land. The 2003 MFWP survey noted low
Lee Creek is a small third order tributary of
the main stem Lolo Creek that joins the
West Fork of Lolo Creek about a half mile
above the confluence with the East Fork.
Lee Creek was notable in the 2003 MFWP
survey for having low densities of westslope
cutthroat trout in the lower reaches and none
in the upper reaches. Brook trout in the 4”9” range dominated all reaches surveyed.
An 11” brown trout from the campground
area was the only other trout species found
in Lee Creek.
the pectoral fin of all westslope cutthroat
trout collected in Lost Park Creek’s lower
reaches in MFWP’s 2003 survey. No
parasites were found in the upper reaches.
One 11” brown trout was noted in the lower
section. Almost all of Lost Park Creek is on
land managed for timber production by
PCTC and the Lolo NF.
Martin Creek drainage; this 2000 aerial photo shows
differing USFS/Plum Creek land management
numbers of both westslope cutthroat trout
and eastern brook trout in the lower reach,
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Mill Creek is a third order tributary of the
main stem entering the south side of Lolo
Creek at mile 10.3. As one moves upstream,
Mill Creek flows through about ¾ mile of
private land, then through a section of
roaded PCTC lands managed for timber
production, then on for a couple of miles
within lightly disturbed Lolo NF land. Mill
Creek is a boulder/step-pool stream with a
high gradient. The 2003 MFWP survey
noted good numbers of westslope cutthroat
trout (2”-7”) throughout, and lower numbers
of brook trout (2”-8”) in the lower reach
Mormon Creek is a significant third order
tributary of the main stem Lolo Creek.
Mormon Creek is the first tributary stream
entering Lolo Creek, coming in from the
south at mile 3.8 about 1½ miles above the
town of Lolo. The lower 2 miles of
Mormon Creek are on private lands, and the
remaining 4 miles are all on Lolo NF land.
In its lowest ½ mile, Mormon Creek is
largely diverted into irrigation systems
during the spring to fall irrigating season.
The 2003 MFWP survey noted excellent
habitat in the lower section, and good habitat
in the middle section. Fish numbers were
highest in the middle reach of Mormon
Creek, dominated by brook trout in the 2”10” range. Westslope cutthroat trout were
found at all sites sampled, and bull trout
were also found in the upper and lower
reaches. Hybridization between brook trout
and bull trout in Mormon Creek seems
prevalent. The portions of Mormon Creek
on Lolo NF land have a well-timbered
southern side of the drainage, while the
north side of the drainage is the open slopes
of Mormon Peak’s south side.
Bill Bradt/USFS Region 1 Archives
which had poor habitat quality. The upper
reach was low in water and had only
westslope cutthroat trout in the 4” range.
South Fork of Lolo Creek, Selway-Bitterroot
South Fork of Lolo Creek is another
significant tributary to Lolo Creek’s main
stem. It enters the main stem’s south side at
mile 12.7. The South Fork is unique
because the upper reaches are within the
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area of the
Lolo NF. Below the wilderness area, the
South Fork flows through about 4 miles of
largely unroaded Lolo NF land, skirts
through some PCTC land, then through
another section of Lolo NF, and finally
through about 1½ miles of valley bottom
within the privately-owned Lolo Trail
Ranch. A 4-foot irrigation diversion dam
across the mouth of the South Fork is a
barrier to fish passage. Bull trout (4”-8”)
were found in the middle reaches; according
to some locals, a relict population of bull
trout lives within the upper valley (not
sampled in 2003). Brook trout (3”-8”)
dominate the lower sections, where a few
small westslope cutthroat trout and a few
brown trout (4”-13”) were also noted.
Westslope cutthroat trout (4”-9”) dominate
the middle to upper sections. Hybridization
between bull trout and brook trout was
observed in the South Fork of Lolo Creek.
No sculpins were found in the 2003 MFWP
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Tevis Creek is a small second order
tributary of the main stem entering the south
side of Lolo Creek at mile 11.4. Tevis
Creek’s upper two miles flow through
roaded PCTC lands managed for timber
production and Lolo NF lands, and the lower
½ mile is on the privately owned valley
bottom within the Lolo Trail Ranch. The
2003 MFWP survey found only small
westslope cutthroat trout in moderate
densities in Tevis Creek.
of brown trout in the 2”-5” range were found
in the lower section beside the Lee Creek
campground. Small westslope cutthroat
trout in low to moderate numbers are in the
middle and upper sections, and small brook
trout were found in low to moderate
numbers in the lowest and middle sections.
Good numbers of sculpins were observed in
this stream. This stream also likely
supported good numbers of bull trout
West Fork Butte Creek is a significant
second order tributary to Lolo Creek, joining
the South Fork from the west about a mile
above Lolo Creek’s main stem. Westslope
cutthroat trout (4”-7”) dominate the lower
reaches, while small brook trout dominate
the upper reaches. Brook trout and
westslope cutthroat trout share dominance of
the middle reaches. A couple of brown trout
in the 3”-10” range were also found in the
lower section during the 2003 MFWP
survey although no bull trout or sculpins
were noted. The upper six miles of West
Fork Butte Creek is within Lolo NF land,
then it skirts sections of PCTC and State of
Montana land before entering the South
Fork. Elk Meadows Road closely follows
West Fork Butte Creek for most of its
Woodman Creek is a small second order
tributary of the main stem, historically
entering the north side of Lolo Creek at mile
12.9 within the Lolo Trail Ranch. Woodman
Creek enters a small pond, then is diverted
for irrigation. Small westslope cutthroat
trout, along with a few rainbow trout and
brook trout, were found in Woodman Creek
in the 2003 MFWP survey. The upper
reaches are on Lolo NF land, and the rest
flows through PCTC and private lands (the
latter not surveyed by MFWP in 2003).
West Fork of Lolo Creek is a significant
third order tributary of Lolo Creek, whose
main stem is created at the confluence of the
East Fork and West Fork at mile 31.0. The
West Fork of Lolo Creek contains large
amounts of fine sediments, which likely are
a result of Highway 12 sanding operations in
the winter (although logging roads and
highly erodible soils are also thought to
contribute). Highway 12 crosses the West
Fork shortly after the confluence with the
East Fork and closely follows the West Fork
up to Lolo Pass. Despite good habitat, the
2003 MFWP survey noted low fish densities
in the West Fork of Lolo Creek. A couple
Recreation Management
Recreation management in the Lolo Creek
watershed has provided for a diverse range
of opportunities. The Lolo Creek watershed
offers quite a bit of recreational activity
options. Crowding is still low, so
management remains fairly light-handed.
The drainage is rich in wildlife, and hunting,
fishing and trapping are all popular pursuits.
Camping and hiking options are also
plentiful. History buffs can find many
aspects of regional history to pursue, either
from an automobile or on one of the many
trails in the area. Other recreational
activities in the drainage include crosscountry skiing, snowshoeing, nature study,
and activities which can border on the
commercial, such as huckleberry and
mushroom harvesting and “rockhounding,”
which includes crystal gathering. Of course,
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
the commercialized Lolo Hot Springs offers
hot water soaking and swimming for a fee.
The newly established Traveler’s Rest State
Park offers visitors the opportunity to visit
an important campsite of the Lewis and
Clark expedition and gain interpretive
insight into the Corps of Discovery.
Motorized recreational opportunities include
the use of off-road vehicles (ORV’s),
snowmobiles and road-based vehicles. Nonmotorized recreation includes the use of
horses and other stock along with mountain
bikes. The issue in the Lolo drainage seems
to be one of quality of experience rather than
the availability of options.
The main factor in the relative quality of
recreational experience seems to be the level
of use. As the number of people looking for
recreation in the Lolo Creek watershed has
grown, the solitude and remoteness that
typified the drainage for many years has
been reduced. Other factors also come into
play. Plum Creek Timber Company, a
major landowner in the drainage, has
generally allowed recreational access to its
lands over the years. However, because of
the checkerboard nature of Plum Creek’s
lands and the road system it shares with the
U.S. Forest Service, open access creates
management problems. Plum Creek’s
priorities do not always include the expense
and liability of accommodating recreation
users of its road network. Increasingly,
roads that lead away from the highway and
across Plum Creek lands are gated and
closed, especially during hunting season.
The Forest Service also has an extensive
road closure program. Roads are closed for
a variety of reasons ranging from conflicting
management priorities to maintenance
concerns to (perhaps most common) the
need to protect big game from harassment
during the fall and winter. When roads are
closed, access is concentrated and
competition for access is increased.
The other dimension of quality in experience
comes from sharing recreational sites with
individuals who, purposefully or otherwise,
leave sites in impaired or damaged
condition. This includes everything from
finding discarded garbage to acts of
vandalism and property damage.
Unfortunately, the trends of carelessness,
abuse and vandalism are likely to reflect the
greater trend of increasing recreational use
and demand in the Lolo Creek watershed.
Public access to many parts of Lolo Creek is
in short supply, despite the close proximity
of Highway 12 to the stream’s entire length.
Private lands border much of the lower half
of Lolo Creek, and many landowners see
access issues as defined by abuse and
vandalism, not to mention liability concerns.
How access issues evolve in relation to
restoration of the watershed and wild trout
fishery will be a challenging issue in times
to come.
Without doubt, the amount of recreational
pressure in the Lolo Creek watershed is only
going to increase. Even without watershed
restoration, this is partly a function of a
growing population that increasingly seeks
outdoors recreation, and also due to direct
efforts to entice growing numbers of
recreationalists. For instance, the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark
expedition’s travels through this area is
being regaled as a windfall for those hoping
to reap tourist dollars. The “Lewis and
Clark” name is heavily utilized among the
few convenience stores, RV parks and
motels along Highway 12 in Montana.
The U.S. Forest Service, owning almost
68% of all lands in the Lolo Creek
watershed, has its own recreational program.
In addition to operating timber and other
commodity programs, and managing natural
resources on its lands, the Lolo National
Forest offers extensive recreational
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
opportunities. A list of Lolo National Forest
facilities and features within its recreation
program is provided in Table 5 (below). As
might be expected, visitor use related to the
commemoration of the Lewis and Clark
bicentennial is a major focus in the
immediate future. During the past year
(2003) most of the visitors were retiree-age,
driving along Highway 12 and not going
off-road (Kulla, 2003). The Lolo NF and
Clearwater NF in Idaho offer non-motorized
access along the Lewis and Clark Trail, and
the upcoming 2 to 3 years may attract many
more visitors in keeping with the timing of
the actual expedition’s travels.
Some of the issues that dominate the Lolo
NF recreation program are the protection of
sensitive sites (Howard Creek Meadows,
Teepee Meadows, Sally Basin and East Fork
Meadows, and the Granite Creek Warm
Springs site on Plum Creek land), conflicts
involving Plum Creek logging and
recreation, ORV damage, and dumping of
trash off Elk Meadows road on Plum Creek
land. Other issues include access to the
Great Burn area from Granite Pass and the
North Fork of Granite Creek, and the cabin
inholding near Granite Pass.
Vandalism and abuse also feature in the
Lolo National Forest’s recreation
management. The Missoula Ranger District,
which includes all of the Lolo National
Forest within the Lolo Creek watershed,
spends more than $10,000 annually just to
deal with vandalism (Kulla, 2003). Some of
the more common visitor activities on the
Lolo NF are gregarious parties, which can
unfortunately result in vandalism and abuse.
Interpretive signs do not receive much
damage, with the regular exception of the
fisheries interpretive sign at Fort Fizzle.
! Lee Creek – 22 sites
! Lolo Creek – 18 sites
! Earl Tennant – 7 sites
Picnic Areas
Howard Creek
Fort Fizzle
Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Nez Perce National Historic Trail
Grazing Allotments
South Fork/East Fork of Lolo Creek
(permittee is OZ/Lolo Trails Ranch)
Snowmobile Trail System
150+ miles, extends into Idaho
Recreational Structures
Cabin Rental – West Fork Butte Creek
Snowmobile warming hut at Lost Park
Lolo Pass VIS Center
Recreation Opportunities
Hiking and Camping
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
XC Skiing and Snowshoeing
Wood and Christmas Tree cutting
Berry and Mushroom harvest
Rock Climbing (the “Heap”)
Current Emphases
Lewis and Clark Bicentennial
National Historic Trail
Dispersed and Developed Recreation
Table 5: Lolo National Forest Recreation
Facilities & Features
Economics of Recreation
Recreation in the Lolo Creek watershed is a
big contributor to the local economy. This
is a trend that, as use increases, is only likely
to grow in significance. The ongoing
commemoration of the Lewis and Clark
Expedition is a visible highlight of this
trend. The University of Montana’s Institute
for Tourism & Recreation Research (ITRR),
which tracks tourism and recreation use in
Montana, provides the following:
! In Missoula County, nonresidents who
stopped for pleasure here in 2002 spent a
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
total of $149,023,000.00; 62% of
these folks were vacationing, and
26% were passing through;
In 2001, nonresident travel
expenditures in Montana totaled
$1.746 billion;
In 2000, Montana residents traveling
to the western part of the state spent
an estimated $81.6 million; and,
In 2002, nonresidents vacationing in
Montana spent an average of
$139.31 daily; over 9.55 million
nonresidents traveled in Montana in
In 2001, the services industry in
Missoula County (not including grocery
retailers) employed 16,392 in 1667
establishments for $404,862,440 in
wages, of which recreation accounted for
$194,037,387 (Montana Department of
Labor & Industry, Research & Analysis
Bureau). This source also states that the
service industry was the largest portion
of Montana’s economy in 2001,
providing 27.7% (or $3,897,295,820.00)
of all income ($14,069,660,000.00) all
Although numbers for recreation’s role
regarding the local economy are
unavailable, there is no question that this
contribution is sizeable and likely leads
the pack in percentage rank. Increased
efforts to preserve and add to those
qualities sought by recreationalists
(along with promotion) are likely to
increase this contribution beyond
expected growth.
Noxious Weeds
One of the biggest issues in the Lolo
Creek watershed is the tremendous
influx of noxious weeds over the years.
Noxious weeds present a growing (both
figuratively and literally) problem that has
no respect for ownership or hydrologic
boundaries. Management and control of
noxious weeds requires a complicated,
coordinated approach that must be constant,
responsive and ever-vigilant. Unfortunately,
the magnitude of the noxious weeds problem
overwhelms some landowners, while other
landowners are apathetic, as the distribution
and degree of infestation indicates. For
instance, the Lolo National Forest has an
official policy of treating weeds only where
the most resource and public benefit can be
had, rather than where weeds are most
numerous. The Lolo NF doesn’t consider
the mere presence of weeds to be a resource
problem, recognizing that weeds are so
widespread that they will always be present.
Even if individual landowners expend great
energy and resources to eradicate weeds on
a specific parcel, a season or two of low
control efforts along with infestations on
adjacent lands can result in weed problems
as severe as ever.
Why try to get rid of noxious weeds at all,
some may wonder. There is no mystery to
this question to someone who has seen his or
her prime pastureland become a thick jungle
of leafy spurge or knapweed. But the effects
of noxious weed infestations are much more
destructive and insidious. Noxious weeds
pose a big threat to the economy and
environment; they decrease the economic
value of land and crops, decrease forage for
livestock and wildlife, displace native
plants, lower plant diversity, increase soil
erosion and sedimentation, and adversely
affect recreation.28 About 9%, or over 8.4
million acres, of Montana is covered with
noxious weeds, and the reduction in
livestock forage by spotted knapweed alone
Pokorny, Monica and Roger Sheley. 2001.
Montana’s Noxious Weeds. MSU Extension Services
and Montana Weed Control Association. Montana
State University. Bozeman, Montana. P. 4.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
costs Montanans 14 million dollars per
year.29 Closer to home, efforts to
restore Lolo Creek’s wild trout fishery
must include restoration of riparian
vegetation, which means removing
noxious weeds and keeping them out.
Restoring the Lolo Creek watershed will
require a coordinated campaign to fight
noxious weed infestations over the entire
drainage, which means pulling every
landowner into the process.
Weed Management
The issue of controlling and eradicating
noxious weeds is not new, as any
gardener, farmer or rancher can attest.
What is new is the continual spread of
species, along with the technologies for
dealing with weeds. Biological controls,
such as Larinus minutus (the lesser
knapweed flower weevil), Cyphocleonus
achates (the knapweed root weevil), and
two species of flea beetles that attack
leafy spurge are being used in some
areas to combat noxious weeds. The
Missoula County Weed District
(MCWD) prefers and advocates the use
of biological controls.30 Unfortunately,
each noxious weed species and site
requires a specialized form of treatment
(or combination of treatments). For
example, leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)
can be effectively contained with
livestock (particularly sheep) grazing,
while sheep and goat grazing only
reduces the seed production of spotted
knapweed (Centaurea maculosa).
Herbicides of different types work to a
degree on all species, but are more
effective on a few. Canada thistle
Otten, Bill. 2003. Personal Communication.
Prevention, new invaders and roadsides.
Missoula County
Weed District. Missoula, Montana.
(Circium arvense) is difficult to control by
any means, while houndstongue
(Cynoglossum officinale) is effectively
treated by several means. Cutting or
mowing common tansy (Tanacetum
vulgare) before treating with herbicide will
work well, but mowing leafy spurge only
increases its density. Obviously, catching
new invasions before they spread is
generally best.
Several landowners in the Lolo Creek
watershed have already worked hard at
controlling noxious weeds. Missoula
County Weed District offers both a
landowner grant program for smaller
acreages, and facilitates grants through
Montana’s Noxious Weed Trust Fund
program, both of which have been accessed
by Lolo-area landowners. Plum Creek has
its own weed management program, and
both Plum Creek and the Lolo National
Forest have staff who perform spraying for
weed control along roads. In summer 2004,
the Missoula County Weed District will
spray herbicides (MCP-amines) along
Highway 12 in conjunction with the
Montana Department of Transportation.
One of the goals of the MCWD is to halt the
progress of leafy spurge up Highway 12; the
plant currently does not go beyond mile
marker 21.5.31 The Lolo NF also has a weed
control component (Amendment 11) of its
Forest Plan. Priority Areas according to
Amendment 11 of the Lolo NF Plan are:
! Areas that are relatively free of
weeds, and trailheads, trails and
roads that lead to those areas;
! New infestations and small weed
patches that threaten areas at high or
moderate ecological risk to weed
! Weeds on National Forest System
land next to or near other
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
landownerships with active weed
control programs;
Weeds on administrative sites,
developed recreation sites, and
pastures to serve as
demonstration sites for public
viewing or to provide weed-free
grazing for government
packstock; and,
Bunchgrass big game winter
coordination, since (as has been stated)
weeds have no respect for ownership or
hydrologic boundaries. The MWCD
has the capability of developing
sophisticated maps with information gleaned
from site surveys. With this information,
residents of the Lolo Creek watershed can
jointly attack noxious weeds in a
coordinated fashion.
The Lolo NF also maintains a list of
noxious weeds on a “watch list” (see
Table 6, below). The heaviest
infestations of noxious weeds on the
Lolo NF are generally the areas that see
the heaviest use (Kulla, 2003).
Roadways generally have the greatest
infestations, and infestations grade away
with distance from roads. Leafy spurge
became much more widespread and
problematic after the 1988 fire season,
especially around Fort Fizzle.32
Getting the upper hand on noxious
weeds in the Lolo Creek watershed will
be a long, difficult struggle (much like
restoring the wild trout fishery), but it
can be accomplished. As Bill Otten of
the Missoula County Weed District says,
“You have to start somewhere,” and the
start was made years ago. However,
effective control for the entire watershed
requires a planned campaign, which
should logically start with determining
where infestations occur and what
species are involved. This will require
mapping, which hasn’t been done in the
Lolo Creek watershed but has been done
successfully elsewhere many times. It
will also require cooperation and
Kulla, Andy. 2003. Personal Communication.
Lolo National Forest Recreation and
Noxious Weeds Coordinator. Missoula,
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum
white top Cardaria draba
musk thistle Cardus nutans
diffuse knapweed Centaurea diffusa
spotted knapweed Centaurea
Russian knapweed Centaurea repens
yellow starthistle Centaurea solstitalis
rush skeletonweed Chondrilla juncea
oxeye daisy Chrysanthemum
Canada thistle Circium arvense
common crupina Crupina vulgaris
houndstongue Cynoglossum officinale
blue weed Echium vulgare
leafy spurge Euphorbia esula
orange hawkweed Hieracium
aurantiacum (suspected to occur in
Lolo Creek watershed)
yellow hawkweed Hieracium pratense
(suspected to occur in Lolo Creek
St. Johnswort Hypericum perforatum
dyers woad Isatis tinctoria*
dalmatian toadflax Linaria dalmatica
common toadflax Linaria vulgaris
purple loostrife Lythrum spp.*
sulfur cinquefoil Potentilla recta
tall buttercup Ranunculus acris*
tansy ragwort Senecio jacobaea*
common tansy Tanacetum vulgare*
NOTE: Bold indicates weeds known to occur in
the Lolo Creek Drainage
Table 6: Lolo National Forest’s "Watch
List" - 25 invasive weeds of greatest concern
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Economics of Noxious Weeds
In “Impacts of Noxious Weeds on the
Ecology and Economy of Montana”33,
the authors emphasize that Montanans
are already paying a high cost for
noxious weeds, and that cost is rapidly
rising. Many of the impacts of noxious
weeds are insidious and not readily
apparent. For instance, noxious weeds
reduce the amount and quality of forage
for wildlife like elk and deer. Noxious
weeds lower plant diversity, displace
native species and alter the functions of
native plant communities. Noxious
weeds can increase soil loss and
sedimentation. Noxious weeds can
reduce land values, and of course reduce
forage for livestock.
Noxious weeds cost Montanans millions
of dollars annually in lost amenities and
for control. Because they are continuing
to spread and increase in number of
species, noxious weeds will increase the
costs we all bear. In the case of leafy
spurge alone, it is estimated that the
economic impact in Montana, North and
South Dakota and Wyoming totals
$129.9 million annually. Spotted
knapweed is estimated to cost
Montanans $42 million annually, or the
value of about 500 jobs. Montana
agriculture faces costs of over $100
million annually in control expenses and
crop production losses. Coordinated
plans for noxious weed control are an
economic necessity, not an option, in the
Lolo Creek watershed.
VII. Conservation
Habitat Improvement Opportunities
This report has identified many alterations
of main stem Lolo Creek that are largely
detrimental to fisheries habitat. The
opportunities for habitat improvement
generally fit into one of several categories,
as follows:
Restoring streamlength to shortened
sections of stream (Re-connecting
meanders cut off by Highway 12)
Many sections of Lolo Creek could be relengthened by restoring flow to channels cut
off by Highway 12. Each section of stream
affected would require two highway bridges.
There would likely be legal implications
from landowners owning property adjacent
to and within these old channels, and
political implications due to the magnitude
of time, money and materials needed.
Highway 12 is also a major conduit for
vehicle traffic between Idaho and Montana,
so construction activity would be a great
nuisance to many.
The benefits would include lower gradients,
more surface area of water, potential for
restoration of pools and streambank
vegetation, and perhaps reduced sediment
input from highway maintenance. Another
benefit may be reduced ice movement
severity. Some landowners would have
increased property values from having
streamside frontage again on their property.
Costs would be extremely high, but the
benefits would also be high.
Sheley, R.L., B.E. Olson and C. Hoopes, EB
152, Montana Dept. of Agric. and MSU
Extension, reprinted Nov. 2000
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Protection from further residential
improvements in the riparian areas
and adjacent to streams (Private
Missoula County’s floodplain
regulations are meant to prohibit further
situations where stream alterations are
required to protect structures once they
are built. Education and perhaps more
building restrictions are probably
needed. Each residence, bridge, or other
improvement becomes a hardened site to
protect the structure that also interferes
with normal stream processes needed to
maintain and restore fisheries habitat.
Installation of instream structures to
enhance fish habitat
It would be possible to install rock
structures to create pools, dissipate
stream energy and add needed habitat
complexity in some straightened sections
created by construction of Highway 12.
The length of Lolo Creek immediately
affected by straightening and rip-rap is
simply too extensive to ignore or hope to
remedy by the somewhat unlikely reconnecting of meanders cut off by
Highway 12. Potentially, the Montana
Department of Transportation could be a
partner in developing habitat
enhancement projects in these sections.
Potential projects could include the
interplanting of vegetation in rip-rapped
sections and incorporating large woody
debris (rootwads, whole logs and whole
downed trees). Rock features, such as jhooks, barbs and w-weirs, could also be
expensive than building bridges and
reconnecting meanders to increase channel
length and would increase fish carrying
capacity. The sites that are suitable for
utilizing whole downed trees would likely
not be in straightened sections. However,
the use of whole downed trees would
replicate the role of naturally occurring large
woody debris in forming pools and areas of
deposition for stream borne organic matter.
Such LWD formations also create a myriad
of habitat types vital for trout in all life
stages, and create a diversity of current
threads that yield a variety of substrates and
depths within the stream. Lolo Creek is
literally starved for habitat complexity and
diversity, so these approaches should yield
immediate benefits in terms of increased
trout populations.
Modifying irrigation diversions
Most of the irrigation diversions and
associated headgates observed could be
redesigned to reduce entrainment. Dams
can be redesigned, rebuilt or remodeled to
provide fish passage. In particular, fish
screens should be installed as soon as
possible in the diversion headgates
experiencing the largest loss of trout. Costs
for redesigning and rebuilding diversion
systems would be relatively high, and
maintenance of such screens continues
indefinitely (varying according to design).
Instream flows, which in many ways are the
most pressing problem for Lolo Creek’s
trout fishery, can be substantially increased
by the water conservation measures and
increased efficiencies central to the design
of many newer diversion systems.
Increasing instream flows
Other sites in less erosive areas offer
opportunities for utilizing whole downed
trees to accomplish the same ends.
These approaches would be far less
As stated, reduced instream flows are in
many ways the most pressing problem for
Lolo Creek’s trout fishery. Because we
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
know that most of Lolo Creek’s instream
flow problems stem from the legal
withdrawal of water for irrigation
purposes, one obvious way to increase
instream flows is to promote greater
efficiency of water use through
techniques that reduce water
consumption. Some of these techniques
are the lining of irrigation ditches to
reduce leakage, center pivot sprinkling
systems, off-stream wells for stock
watering, and the use of pipes for water
transport. Assistance programs though
the government can help defray costs.
Water use savings need to be
accompanied by transfers, leases or
changes of use to protect any gains to
stream flows. Another way to benefit
instream flows is to have low drainage
point diversion senior water rights
converted to instream flows through
transfers, leases or changes of use.
Costs could be fairly low to moderately
high, depending on the situation and
extent of work, materials and project.
Stabilization of eroding banks (Using
riparian revegetation)
In some cases, eroding banks have been
aggravated by reduction of shrubs and
trees, leaving only weaker grasses that
provide low resistance to the erosive
power of spring flows. While rip-rap
should be avoided, some bio-engineered
designs along with some shrub and tree
revegetation could provide immediate
and longer-term streambank stability.
Preventing livestock-induced stress to
the revegetation effort and banks
through fencing and close management
would be essential to this type of project.
Costs would be expected to be relatively
Protection and restoration of large woody
It is appropriate to seek long term
reestablishment of mature trees for
streambank stability, woody debris
recruitment and pools for yearlong trout
habitat. This is an existing opportunity on
almost the entire length of stream surveyed.
Planting and/or protection of riparian woody
plants from livestock damage could be
accomplished by education, cost-share of
fencing and planting, and long term
conservation easements for interested
landowners. As mentioned, an immediate
approach to restoring habitat complexity in
Lolo Creek is the placement of instream
whole downed trees. Methods successfully
employed elsewhere use the stream’s
currents and floodplain to anchor the trees in
place, without the use of cables or chains.
Often times, the use of one or two whole
trees as “key” pieces enables the placement
of smaller logs in such a way as to anchor
them in place. The resulting logjams bridge
the channel and trap other pieces of large
woody debris, creating the mix of current
vortices necessary to form pools and other
protected habitats critical for trout. This is
an inexpensive and effective method that
provides immediate habitat benefits.
The basic problem with development and
“sprawl” in the Lolo Creek watershed are
the lack of standards or planning
requirements to prevent the haphazard,
piecemeal loss of the drainage’s rural
character. Currently (because of SB 326),
the Missoula County Commission is the
only government entity that directs
development and subdivision in the
watershed (besides county regulations and
state laws for things like sewer
requirements, development in floodplains,
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
taxes and the like). The “Lolo
Comprehensive Plan” which provided
guidelines for subdivisions and other
developments was made invalid by SB
326. The County Commission is now
deciding things like setbacks from
streams and rivers, open space needs and
units per acre.
If Lolo area residents want to affect the
inevitable forces for development in the
watershed, the ultimate solution is to
follow the example of other Montana
watershed groups and formulate zoning
requirements for incorporation into
county planning laws.
The alternative, and perhaps most
needed approach regardless, is to create
a political presence for preserving the
rural character of the watershed. The
pressures of subdivision and land
development come not only from
increasing demand, but also from willing
landowners and developers looking for
profitable projects. The formation of an
organized and vigilant political force
will be essential to preventing the
haphazard, piecemeal loss of the
drainage’s rural character.
Recreation in the Lolo Creek watershed
is also likely to see only increases in
overall use. This is good news for those
in business to provide goods and
services to recreationalists, providing
that the quality of experience (and
number of recreationalists) does not
decline due to increased activity. At
some point, (perhaps sooner than later
for some user groups) limited space in
the watershed to accommodate all is
going to necessitate some planning and
require that certain uses be restricted to
certain areas.
This is already the case with federally
protected wilderness areas, which exclude
motorized vehicles and equipment. Again,
the formation of an organized political entity
(like the Lolo Watershed Group) can lead to
the sort of collaborative planning needed.
Agencies like Montana Fish, Wildlife and
Parks and the Lolo National Forest, along
with private partners like Plum Creek, are
also pivotal players in the evolution of
recreation management in the watershed.
Noxious Weeds
Getting the upper hand on the noxious weed
problems of the Lolo Creek watershed is
going to be complicated and difficult. It is
not, however, impossible. The first step
should be to working with the Missoula
County Weed District conduct a thorough
inventory of noxious weed distribution (by
species) in the watershed. The resulting
maps will be a valuable tool in coordinating
the application of effort and resources,
Tapping into county, state and federal
support programs will offset costs, as will
partnering with agency and private company
landowners in the watershed. An absolute
must to assure successful weed management
is coordination and cooperation between
landowners in the watershed. Again, the
leadership of the Lolo Watershed Group can
be decisive in developing a meaningful
noxious weeds control strategy.
Streambank Erosion
A significant problem that besets Lolo Creek
frontage landowners is the continued loss of
property and threat of damage caused by
streambank erosion. This erosion is
primarily related to Highway 12 and the
straightening of the channel. The
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
straightened channel inevitably
meanders, and where the full force of the
current hits streambanks head on,
erosion and damage results. This is the
highly visible case in several instances at
the tail end of straightened, rip-rapped
The problem is exacerbated by the lack
of sinuosity in main stem Lolo Creek
due (again) to Highway 12. The lack of
meanders adds velocity to the current,
which adds to the destructive power of
the stream (especially during ice
movements and high water). In the
lower portions of Lolo Creek, the stream
can sometimes be compared to a fire
hose nozzle without control, carving new
channels and taking out big chunks of
property during high flow events.
Solutions to this problem aren’t going to
be easy. One immediate and popular
solution is to armor current targeted
banks with rip-rap, which, as we have
seen, is not a very good approach. A
much better solution would be to restore
sinuosity to main stem Lolo Creek, thus
dissipating energy and eliminating
present property threats. Since this
would mean re-connecting meanders and
building bridges, the feasibility is low.
A more feasible approach may be to
investigate constructing smaller channel
meanders within the existing floodplain
to accomplish similar results. This
would still involve the loss of private
property in some instances.
Overall, this problem merits more study
by those skilled in the dynamics of
stream systems within floodplains.
Innovative solutions must be engineered
to incorporate the stream’s natural
character and tendencies.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
Alt, David D. and D. Hyndman. 1986. Roadside Geology of Montana. Mountain Press
Publishing. Missoula, Montana.
Anderson, Alan. 2003. Personal Communication. Lolo Creek landowner.
Athens, Bill. 2003. Personal Communication. Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bechtold, Timothy. 1992. NOW v. FOREVER: The conflict between business and forestry
in the management of Plum Creek timberlands in Montana. MS Thesis, Environmental Studies,
University of Montana. Missoula, Montana.
Bechtold, Timothy. 2004. Personal Communication. Missoula, Montana.
Boer, Brian. 2002. Septic derived nutrient loading to the groundwater and surface water
in Lolo Montana. MS Thesis, Geology, University of Montana. Missoula, Montana.
Bollman, Wease. 2003. A Biological Assessment of Sites on Lolo Creek: Missoula
County, Montana. Rhithron Associates, Inc. Report to the Missoula Water Quality District.
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Stabilization Projects on Reaches of the Clark Fork River, Bitterroot River, Blackfoot River, Lolo
Creek and Ninemile Creek in Missoula County, Montana. The Watershed Education Network.
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Clancy, Chris. 2000. Comments in “State of the Fisheries” talk, Westslope Chapter Trout
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(The) Discovery Writers. 1998. Lewis & Clark In The Bitterroots. Stoneydale Press
Publishing Company. Stevensville, Montana.
Dishman, Bill. 2003. Personal Communication. Lolo Creek resident.
Duffalo, Bruce. 2003. Personal Communication. Lolo Creek resident.
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Holt, John. Montana fly fishing guide. V. 1, West of the Continental Divide. Greycliff
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Knotek, Ladd. 2003. Lolo Creek unpublished fisheries data. Montana Department of
Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Missoula, Montana.
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
References , continued:
Konizeski, Dick. 1998. Edited and revised by Bill Archie and Michele Archie. The
Montanans’ Fishing Guide. V. 1, Montana waters west of the Continental Divide. Mountain Press
Publishing Company. Missoula, Montana.
Kulla, Andy. 2003. Personal Communication. Lolo National Forest Recreation and
Noxious Weeds Coordinator. Missoula, Montana.
Land & Water Consulting. 2000. Lolo Creek Road Sand Impact Assessment. Report
prepared for Montana Department of Transportation, Environmental Services.
Malouf, Carling. 1952. Economy and Land Use by the Indians of Western Montana.
McLeod, Charles M. 1984. A Cultural History of the Lolo Trail. MA Thesis, University
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Lolo Creek Resource Assessment Report
References , continued:
Sullivan, Sean. 2003. Physical, Biological and Chemical Assessment of Lolo Creek,
Montana. Report to the Missoula Water Quality District (MWQD). Missoula, Montana.
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Appendix A – MAPS
Reaches 1 and 2
Reaches 3 and 4
Reaches 5 and 6
Reaches 6 and 7
Lolo Creek Watershed (in back
cover pocket)
Stream Mile locations on Reach maps correspond to Habitat
Alteration Locations in Streamwalk narrative.
the reach break between Reach 6 and Reach 5 depicted on Map iii
is incorrect; Reach 6 ends and Reach 5 begins at a point just
upstream of the mouth of Grave Creek, at stream mile 20.5.
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