FCA teamed up with project partners to install a modular Farmers Screen on this previously unscreened irrigation diversion. Providing safe in-stream fish passage to resident Bull trout, Westslope Cutthroat, Rainbow trout, and Brown trout, the 6 CFS Farmers Screen also provides reliably screened irrigation water to a local ranch.
Stony Creek is located in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, twenty miles west of Phillipsburg, Montana, and is a tributary to Rock Creek which flows into the Clark Fork River. The entire local river system is an important recreational fishery in the state of Montana and project partners Trout Unlimited, USFS, USFWS, and Montana FWP were keen to see this passage barrier removed.
The new screen system consists of:
- A three-section modular Farmers Screen
- A rebuilt headgate
- In-stream rock weir passage structure
- A three section modular Farmers Screen
- A piped fish return
As a tributary to Rock Creek, Stony Creek offers thermal refuge to fish during periods of high water temperatures. This project improves access to that refuge for resident Bull Trout, Westslope Cutthroat, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout. By maintaining upstream fish passage through the only active irrigation diversion on Stony Creek, this project eliminates entrainment of out-migrating juveniles and adults in the irrigation ditch.
The natural channel of Stony Creek is also an important spawning habitat, and FCA is excited to see how the improved upstream fish passage could help ensure spawning success – especially for fall-spawning species. The Stony Creek project could improve migratory fish populations and result in increased recruitment of both native and non-native species to Rock Creek, thereby improving fishing opportunities on both Stony Creek and Rock Creek.
Meanwhile, a low maintenance screening option is provided to the local rancher, ensuring reliable flows of irrigation water to the ranch.