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Department: Community and Planning Services
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Community and Planning Services:
Streamside Protection Program

Blackfoot River

Healthy rivers and streams are valuable economic, ecological, and cultural resources appreciated by Missoula County residents and visitors alike. Healthy rivers sustain fisheries, streamside wildlife habitat, drinking water, agricultural land, recreation opportunities and more. Missoula County residents, landowners, and interest groups work hard to care for our iconic waterways and frequently urge public officials to support the protection, restoration, and enhancement of our water resources and the streamside riparian areas that sustain them.

In order to support and facilitate such efforts, the county partners with landowners, watershed groups, community groups, local water resource experts, technical experts, agency partners, and others. Together, we work to assess priority issues, to identify opportunities to address problems, and to facilitate good stewardship and policy for protection of our water resources.

Through our Streamside Protection Program and our partners, Missoula County is engaged in efforts to:

  1. Promote stewardship of streamside lands, riparian areas and water resources,

  2. Obtain and distribute technical information and expert recommendations about stream and riparian protection, enhancement and restoration,

  3. Support stream restoration and a restoration economy,

  4. Support watershed and community groups working to assess and address stream and water resource issues in their communities,

  5. Provide information on federal, state and local policy and programs that relates to water resource protection.

Read below to learn more about resources and information available to you through Missoula County's Streamside Protection Program:
  1. Stewardship

Irrigated field in Potomac Landowners and communities who live near streams, lakes or wetlands share an important responsibility in influencing the health of this vital resource.  By protecting, restoring or enhancing the water body’s natural functions, landowners can encourage natural processes and see both short-term and long-term benefits of river health.

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  1. Technical information and expert recommendations


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  1. Stream restoration

Stream restoration is a growing field nationwide and in Missoula County. From small scale stream bank & channel restoration efforts initiated by individual landowners, to multi-million dollar agency-led projects (like Milltown Dam removal and re-development), this region has embraced the benefits of stream restoration work. Such projects are known to provide a number of environmental and public welfare benefits including improved water quality, fisheries, recreation opportunities, and riparian wildlife habitat. Restoration work can also provide significant economic benefits, utilizing private sector restoration contractors and materials.

Restoration Workers planning a new stream channel

Currently, Missoula County Rural Initiatives secures and manages funding for several major restoration projects in the Ninemile Creek area. Rural Initiatives is also seeking new projects and opportunities to support restoration work in rural areas—check back or contact Rural Initiatives for information on new projects or funding opportunities.



Restoration workers planning a new stream channel.


Nine Mile Creek Restoration Projects

The Nine Mile Creek watershed is currently a busy place when it comes to mine reclamation and restoration work. Thanks in large part to funding awarded to Missoula County from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), two large-scale restoration projects and three restoration planning projects are currently underway. Trout Unlimited, the Lolo National Forest, and Missoula County partnered to secure funds for these projects from DNRC’s Reclamation and Development Grants Program. Missoula County and partners are awaiting awards for two additional projects currently under review.

In St Louis Creek and Mattie V Creek, work includes removing mine tailings and waste, restoring stream channels, and planting native vegetation. Additionally, detailed restoration plans and design are being developed for Kennedy Creek, Twin Creek, and the Housum Placer mine site on the mainstem of Nine Mile Creek. These efforts are part of a larger campaign led by Trout Unlimited to clean up mine waste and restore clean water and healthy fisheries throughout the entire Nine Mile watershed.

Learn more about the active restoration projects:


Public tour of St. Louis Creek Project.


Mattie V Creek Project in progress.

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  1. Watershed and community groups

Secchi disk 

A Clearwater Resource Council volunteer monitoring water quality on Lake Alva.

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  1. Federal, state, regional and local policy and programs

Water is already the focus of many government agencies and non-governmental organizations. In Missoula County, a number of regulations and policies exist to manage water use, water quality, floodplain development, and modifications in or near streams, to name just a few.

Rainy Lake near the Seeley-Swan Divide

Rainy Lake near the Seeley-Swan Divide. Photo by C. Lewis.

Every legislative session, law makers discuss and consider new laws or revisions to old laws. And every day, agencies and organizations interested in water resources work on current issues, programs, policies and research related to water. By working with our partners to track policy, legislation, and programs, Missoula County maintains updated information and links to helpful resources.



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Last updated: June 27, 2012

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