Projects conducted or partnered on from 2004 to 2018.
Check out the home page for exciting new projects.
LWCF Land Acquisition on the Madison River: 2018
In partnership with BLM, The Nature Conservancy, and a MRF Lifetime Member private landowner, 300-acres of land in the Madison Valley was purchased by the BLM with Land and Water Conservation Funds. Made possible by a generous donation from a MRF Lifetime Member, the MRF funded the land appraisal required to receive LWCF funding. The acquisition of this land provides the public with access to five miles of walk-in wade fishing on the Madison River and several thousand acres of land to hunters and hikers in the Wall Creek Wildlife Management Area. This new public land is located just north of Palisades Campground.
Ennis School Science Fair: 2017- Ongoing
MRF participates at the annual Ennis School Science Fair by judging for the student’s projects and two awards for Madison watershed-based projects.
Fly Line Recycling Containers: 2017- Ongoing
In 2017 fishing line recycling containers designed and built by Ennis School were installed at five fishing access sites: Varney Bridge, Raynolds Pass, $3 Bridge, Valley Garden, and Ennis town site.
In May 2017 willows and birch trees were planted at a BLM site south of Cameron with BLM staff, foundation staff and volunteers. The project was monitored in May 2019, the fencing enclosures were intact and about 55 percent of the 500 willow and birch trees planted survived and bloomed for the season.
Moore’s Creek was a collaboratively funded restoration project intended to restore stream form and function to improve water quality, fish habitat, and overall riparian health. MCD and MFWP acted as project sponsors and MRF contributed funds.
The foundation began the upper Madison River Baseline Monitoring program in the fall of 2016 by establishing eight long-term, monitoring stations between Hebgen Dam and Ennis for seasonal sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates. The 2016-2017 dataset represents the first seasonal sampling of the most comprehensive study evaluating the macroinvertebrate communities in the upper Madison River. It provides a significant baseline dataset for future monitoring efforts.
Boot washing stations were placed at four different fishing access locations along the Madison River for anglers to wash their boots before moving to another watershed or waterbody or entering the Madison initially.
The foundation helped fund an easement on Jack Reints’ 120-acre property along O’Dell Creek and the Madison River. The Reints Ranch is a 120-acre contiguous parcel of agricultural land adjacent to Ennis and Jeffers, MT. Both the Madison River and O’Dell Spring Creek flow through the property, and it is located within one mile of six other protected MLR easement properties.
In July 2016 the foundation hosted a series of speakers presenting on science and outdoor related topics. The foundation has co-hosted the annual Wildlife Speaker Series with the Wildlife Conservation Society Community Partnerships since 2015.
The foundation partnered with Madison Conservation District to fund a project to stabilize failing gabion baskets along a 120-foot section of Jack Creek and install structures that promote stability through willows and natural components.
A plan was developed to re-route the stream channel so it would no longer undercut the cabin. The project site is on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Wall Creek Game Range, along Ruby Creek, a tributary to the Madison River. The stream channel was re-routed using excavated materials along with willow plantings to modify the existing active channel along the vertical bank into floodplain. The foundation received a grant from Northwestern Energy for the project.
A section of Moore’s Creek immediately north of Ennis was fenced to create a riparian pasture to have limited grazing, and off-channel livestock water sources were developed. The foundation provided partial funding for the project.
To conserve the native trout fishery in Cabin Creek and the mostly non-native blue-ribbon fishery in the Madison River a permanent barrier separating the two fisheries was deemed the only option by fisheries managers. Area fish biologist proposed to build a fish barrier consisting of a 25-foot wide spillway with two vertical drops separated by a gently sloping concrete slab designed to pass a 100-year flood. In essence, the design emulates two natural waterfalls at either end of a bedrock chute. The project prevented further expansion of rainbow trout and preserved the existing genetic status of the WCT population.
The foundation sponsored the cost of supplying outdoor toilets at Clutes Landing and Ennis Lake during the summer season to mitigate the risk of waste entering the lake. The development of facilities at the access sites along Ennis Lake by FWP has eliminated the need for continuation of this project.
Bear Creek Days, MRF Partnership: 2013-Ongoing
The foundation contributes funds and volunteers to the annual Bear Creek Days three-day outdoor education event. Bear Creek Field Camp is an outdoor education program for 3rd-8th grade students. The program originated in 2007 at Bear Creek, a historic ranger station and primary portal into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.
Citizen scientist volunteers conduct water monitoring throughout the Madison watershed. The program is conducted by Madison Conservation District. Madison River Foundation provided funding to support the program and assisted with data collection and trainings.
Beginning in 2012, the foundation became a partner in funding the private fish hatchery on the Sun Ranch that raises genetically pure WCT for stocking in Madison tributaries as part of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recovery program for this native species.
A multi-year study of Madison mountain whitefish was led by the foundation. The need for basic research into life history, population data, habitat/spawning needs, stream flow, temperature requirements, water quality and disease for whitefish was identified. The study was conducted in collaboration with FWP, Montana State University’s Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, and Trout Unlimited.
The contribution of stocked rainbow trout in Hebgen Lake created a need to identify which fish in the lake were hatchery reared. An otolith microchemistry analysis was conducted to determine proportion of hatchery fish to wild rainbow trout.
In 2012 the foundation in partnership with the US Forest Service and the Bar 7 Ranch installed permanent fencing to exclude livestock from sensitive sections of the stream which hold a remnant population of WCT. The project is part of the foundation’s WCT overall recovery efforts.
The foundation contributed to the Good Thymes Camp annually with multiple groups such as the Madison Conservation District, Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, the Women’s Club, Ennis school district, and other grants. The GROWW program developed out of the Good Thymes Camp.
There was a shortfall for funding of a flow gauge at Varney Bridge in 2011. Several groups partnered to fund the gauge including the foundation.
Horse Creek is a tributary of the Madison which maintains a small remnant population of WCT, a partnership between the foundation, the US Forest Service and the Wall Creek Grazing Association installed permanent fencing to exclude livestock from sensitive sections of the stream to eliminate bank disturbance and improve and maintain habitat for WCT. The project is part of the foundation’s WCT overall recovery efforts.
In July 2010 the foundation collaborated with various other conservation groups and agencies to create GPS mapping of noxious weeds on the banks and islands of the Madison from Raynolds Pass to Three Forks.
Since 2005, 11 distinct phases of construction have been completed in the O’Dell Creek Headwaters, resulting in nearly 11 miles of restored spring creek channel, 580 acres of emergent wetland enhancement, and 35 acres of open water wetland development as of 2017. The restoration plan closed and filled all the drainage canals and re-routed the creek to its original winding path which was determined using topographical images. Once the hydrology was restored, experts predicted the wetland vegetation would also be restored along with everything that depends on that.
MRF partnership with Granger Ranches to provide seasonal electric fencing to prevent livestock from entering the Madison River and O’Dell Creek. Granger Ranch is bounded by 3.5 miles of the east bank of the Madison River from just south of Ennis, upstream almost to Eight Mile fishing access site. The project was initiated in 2009 to address concerns such as cattle entering the river and causing conflicts between recreational and agricultural interests. Some of these cattle crossed the river and entered the neighboring subdivision, causing conflicts between Granger Ranch and its neighbors. Ranch staff also had the added burden of retrieving wayward cattle. The effort sought solutions to these issues, as well as means of benefitting multiple parties involved in the work.
A tributary of the Madison River, Tepee Creek maintains a population of WCT. In 2010 the foundation pursued habitat restoration and improvement work on the stream. Tepee Creek project was completed in conjunction with the Wigwam Creek overall project.
The foundation became a major sponsor of the annual Wild Trout Symposium in 2010. The symposium was partially funded through 2013. The Wild Trout Symposium started in 1976 and continues to provide updates to the public, agencies, and the international scientific community on the science and management of wild trout populations.
A monitoring program was developed for Jack Creek by the Madison Conservation District. The foundation provided financial support and volunteers. The program was encompassed by the Madison Stream Team in 2014, eliminating the need for a separate program. The financial contributions to Jack Creek are still tracked separately.
Smith Lake located on Lake Creek is an irrigation reservoir created to provide adequate drop and water volume to operate a water wheel pump that carries water to an offsite trough for livestock. The stream migration of brown trout was being impeded by the system. In order to ensure year round fish passage with minimal impact to rearing habitat associated with the reservoir, and to meet the irrigation needs of the water user FWP and Beaverhead National Forest installed an alternative pump system in collaboration with MRF.
The foundation filed a motion to intervene in a proposed hydroelectric generating project on the Madison River below Quake Lake.
Montana FWP identified the need for a river use survey on the Madison. The foundation funded the 2008 survey. The results were widely dispersed in 2009 and have influenced management decisions by the department since.
In 2008 the foundation adopted the stretch of Varney Road between the 8 Mile fishing access site and Burnt Tree site. MRF hosts 3 volunteer clean-up days throughout the summer covering the area on Varney Road between Burnt Tree fishing access site and 8 Mile fishing access site.
Grayling Creek is a tributary in need of restoration efforts crossing Highway 287 on the upper Madison. Multiple feasibility studies were conducted, with plan of actions developed. The project was stalled in 2008 and as of 2014 the Foundation agreed to continue to support on-going research to determine the best options to reclaim spawning habitat and slow degradation on Grayling Creek.
The West Madison Canal is used as an irrigation canal. In past years fish swam into the canal and became trapped when irrigators closed the ditch for the winter usually in October. The foundation has explored multiple long-term options to prevent entrainment of fish in the canal. In 2017 a bubble curtain system was installed and tested to see if it deterred fish from entering the canal. The annual fish rescue was conducted in 2017 and roughly 150 fish were moved back into the main stem of the river. In the fall of 2018 a slow draw down of the irrigation canal prevented stranding of the fish.
A multi-year collaborative project with the U.S Forest Service, Bar 7 Ranch, PPL-Montana, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and Trout Unlimited to preserve and protect a population of native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in Wigwam Creek, a tributary of the Madison River in the Gravelly Range.