Projects conducted or partnered on from 2004 to today.


Three Dollar Bridge Riparian Restoration Project: Summer 2019
The Three Dollar Bridge Riparian Restoration Project is the first project to be completed from the Madison River Riparian Restoration Plan. Restoration work involved clearly defining fishing access trails, exclosure fencing, planting, and seasonal electric fencing to restore and protect connected off-channel riparian and aquatic habitat. The riparian area and slope wetland at the Three Dollar Bridge Fishing Access Site provide habitat for wildlife, shade and cover for fish, support the food web, and help sustain clean, cool water inputs to the river. The restoration project addressed limiting factors such as livestock trampling, wildlife browse, and recreational impacts to enhance the riparian corridor so the Madison River remains one of the world’s greatest fisheries for generations to come. 

West Fork Revegetation with Forest Service: Summer 2019
MRF has partnered with the USFS to restore sections of the West Fork. In June, a small section of streambank that receives heavy ATV and camping use was revegetated with willows. Additional fencing and vegetation plantings will occur throughout the summer to mitigate erosion.

Amphibian Monitoring with Forest Service: Summer 2019
MRF has partnered with the USFS this summer to conduct amphibian monitoring surveys in the Madison watershed. An inventory of adult amphibians and eggs at area lakes and data on water temperature and vegetation will be collected during sampling. If you’re interested in volunteering with amphibian surveys, please email  

Wigwam & Arasta Creek Fencing Repairs with Forest Service: Fall 2019
The 2018 Wigwam Fire damaged fencing enclosures along Wigwam and Arasta Creeks that protect Westslope Cutthroat Trout populations. MRF worked with the USFS to initially install the fencing and will be partnering with the USFS to repair the damage in the fall.

Jack Creek Cutthroat Monitoring with Forest Service and FWP: Fall 2019
MRF will be working with the USFS and FWP to conduct electrofishing to monitor Westslope Cutthroat Trout populations in Jack Creek in the fall.


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.


Madison River Riparian Restoration Plan: 2017- Ongoing
MRF worked with Geum Environmental Consulting in 2017-2018 to develop a Master Plan for riparian restoration opportunities along the Madison River. The restoration planning area covers 27.5 miles of riparian area from the US Highway 87 Bridge to Varney Bridge. The Riparian Restoration Plan includes 22 potential projects that aim to restore and enhance the riparian, wetland, and aquatic habitats along the mainstem of the Madison River.

Ennis School Science Fair: 2017- Ongoing
MRF participates at the annual Ennis School Science Fair by judging the student’s projects and presenting 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. Old fly line is collected and sent to Flyvines in Missoula, MT to be recycled.

Riparian Restoration, Bureau of Land Management: 2017
In May 2017, willows and birch trees were planted at a BLM site south of Cameron with BLM staff, MRF staff, and volunteers. The project was monitored in May 2019, and the fencing enclosures were intact and about 55% of the 500 willow and birch trees planted survived and bloomed for the season.

Moore’s Creek-Lyons, Madison Conservation District: 2017
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.


Macroinvertebrate Study: 2016-2017, Report: 2018
MRF contracted Montana Biological Survey to conduct an upper Madison River Baseline Monitoring program in 2016 to supplement the existing Northwestern Energy monitoring program. Seasonal samplings of macroinvertebrate samples, habitat data, and water chemistry measurements were collected at eight long-term monitoring stations between Hebgen Dam and Ennis. Results indicated 108 unique macroinvertebrate taxa from the 96 samples collected in 2016-2017. Macroinvertebrate populations reached their highest reported densities in the fall of 2017 at the Highway 287 Bridge and steadily decreased downstream to Varney Bridge, then increased downstream to Ennis. Mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly taxa dominated most sampling sites on the Madison River, averaging 62% of the invertebrate community, except at the Hebgen Dam sites where they averaged 22%. Salmonflies gradually increased from their lowest numbers below Hebgen Dam to peak density at Varney Bridge. The 2016 bio-integrity estimates were relatively high (~80%) for all Madison River sites except at the Madison Powerhouse (43%), with the highest score at Ennis (93%). Characterization of macroinvertebrate assemblages based on temperature tolerance showed a clear dichotomy between the upper and lower reaches of the Madison River, where coldwater taxa were more abundant in the upper river and warm water taxa predominated in the lower river. This study provides a substantial baseline dataset for future monitoring on the Madison River.

Invasive Species Mitigation- Boot Cleaning Stations: 2016-2018
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.

Reints Conservation Easement, Montana Land Reliance: 2016
The MRF 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.

Science Day: 2016
In July 2016, the MRF hosted a series of speakers presenting on science and outdoor related topics. The MRF has co-hosted an event for the annual Wildlife Speaker Series with the Wildlife Conservation Society Community Partnerships since 2015.

Jack Creek Sanford Streambank Stabilization, Madison Conservation District: 2016
The MRF 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.


Ruby Creek Channel Restoration, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks: 2015
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 MRF received a grant from Northwestern Energy to fund project.

Moore’s Creek Goggins, Madison Conservation District: 2015
A section of Moore’s Creek immediately north of Ennis was fenced to create a riparian pasture to provide limited grazing, and off-channel livestock water sources were developed. The MRF provided partial funding for the project.


Cabin Creek: 2014-2015
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 Westslope Cutthroat population.


Clutes/Ennis Lake: 2013-2017
The MRF 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 MRF 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 in Madison, Gallatin, and Jefferson counties hosted by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Service. With the help of many volunteers, the MRF provides lunch and teaches fly casting and the basics of fly fishing to the students.

StreamTeam Water Monitoring, Madison Conservation District MRF Partnership: 2013-2017
Citizen scientist volunteers conduct water monitoring throughout the Madison watershed. The program is conducted by Madison Conservation District. MRF provided funding to support the program and assisted with data collection and trainings.


Sun Ranch Hatchery: 2012-2017
Beginning in 2012, the MRF became a partner in funding the private fish hatchery on the Sun Ranch that raises genetically pure Westslope Cutthroat trout for stocking in Madison tributaries as part of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recovery program for this native species.

Whitefish Study: 2012-2016
A multi-year study of Madison mountain whitefish was led by the MRF. 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.

Hebgen Lake Otolith Microchemistry: 2012-2015
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.

Arasta Creek: 2012
In 2012, the MRF 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 Westslope Cutthroat Trout.


Good Thymes Camp & GROWW Program: 2011-2018
The MRF 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 others. The GROWW program developed out of the Good Thymes Camp. 

Varney Gauge, MRF Partnership: 2011-2015 
There was a shortfall for funding of a flow gauge at Varney Bridge in 2011. Several groups partnered to fund the gauge including the MRF. 

Horse Creek: 2011 
Horse Creek is a tributary of the Madison which maintains a small remnant population of Westslope Cutthroat trout, a partnership between the MRF, 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 Westslope Cutthroat trout.


Noxious Weed Mapping: 2010 - 2011 
In July 2010, the MRF 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. 

O’Dell Creek Headwaters Restoration, MRF partnership: 2010-Ongoing
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. 

Madison River Riparian Fencing: 2010-Ongoing 
The MRF partners 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. This project, which has improved grasslands, bank stabilization, woody plant growth, livestock production, riparian areas, and water quality, is made possible with the help of many volunteers

Tepee Creek: 2010-2012 
A tributary of the Madison River, Tepee Creek maintains a population of Westslope Cutthroat trout. In 2010, the MRF pursued habitat restoration and improvement work on the stream. Tepee Creek project was completed in conjunction with the Wigwam Creek overall project. 


Wild Trout Symposium: 2009-2013
The MRF 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.  

Jack Creek Monitoring Program, MRF Partnership: 2009-2014 
A monitoring program was developed for Jack Creek by the Madison Conservation District. The MRF 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 & Lake Creek: 2009-2015 
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.

Quake Lake: 2009 
The MRF filed a motion to intervene in a proposed hydroelectric generating project on the Madison River below Quake Lake. 


Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks River User Survey: 2008-2009 
Montana FWP identified the need for a river use survey on the Madison. The MRF funded the 2008 survey. The results were widely dispersed in 2009 and have influenced management decisions by the department since. 

Adopt a Highway- Varney Road: 2008
In 2008, the MRF adopted the stretch of Varney Road between the 8 Mile Fishing Access Site and Burnt Tree Fishing Access 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.


Lower Grayling Creek: 2005-Ongoing 
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 MRF agreed to continue to support on-going research to determine the best options to reclaim spawning habitat and slow degradation on Grayling Creek. 

West Madison Canal: 2005-Ongoing 
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 MRF 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.


Wigwam Creek: 2004-2011
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.