After decades of concerns and warnings, concrete drop structure # 5 along the Milk River Project on St. Mary’s canal failed on May 17th, 2020. Drop 5 is the last concrete drop along the 29 mile St. Mary canal that uses gravity and siphons to deliver water to the Milk River, critical for providing water to hundreds of thousands of irrigated acres, municipalities, recreationists, wildlife, etc. Below are several newspaper articles, press releases and radio interviews regarding the failure. For more information on the Milk River Project, please look around our website, as well as Montana DNRC’s website http://dnrc.mt.gov/divisions/water/management/st-mary-rehabilitation-project.
The MRWA created a story map of the St Mary and Milk River Project to show just where the water in the Milk comes from and where it goes! Tour the user-friendly map that starts at the headwaters near St Mary River and flows to the confluence of the Milk and Missouri Rivers. The story map contains construction dates, municipal statistics, dam and reservoir background, project beneficiaries, watershed outlines, and pictures of project structures in the St Mary and Milk River Project. Click around to explore this interactive map!
The Ft Peck Governor’s Cup Water Carnival is a family fun event that is held at the Ft Peck Interpretive Center hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It coincides with the Governor’s Cup Walleye Fishing Tournament and offers land-dwellers everything from face painting to interactive games.
Casey attended the water carnival with a game called “Invaders Inspectors”. This scavenger hunt styled game allows for participants to search waders, life vests, and floaties for fake aquatic invasive species(AIS). Small stickers and plants were hidden in plain sight to demonstrate how tiny these hitch-hikers can be and their impressive camouflage skills. If the participants could successfully find all the hidden AIS, they could draw a prize.
An important message conveyed through this game is how AIS are not solely transported by watercraft. Anything that encounters an infested waterbody has the potential to spread it to another waterbody. The “fouled boat” activity shows just how quick that can happen.
Montana is a headwaters state, it is imperative that we keep AIS out of our waterbodies to prevent costly impacts on downstream water users. Inspecting, cleaning, draining, and drying your gear or watercraft is the new norm. As simple as hanging a life vest out to dry or removing any weeds that might be stuck on the boat trailer can prevent spreading those nasty little buggers!
Our Big Sky Watershed Corps Member, Casey, participated in the Montana Salt Cedar Team as they treated Salt Cedar on the Missouri River from Wolf Point to the North Dakota border in 2017. Casey had the opportunity to monitor the progress from last year’s treatment, and treat any missed Salt Cedar along that stretch of Missouri River.
The results were fantastic! Most treated Salt Cedar had complete foliar die off, and some had partial foliar die off and will likely die within the next year. Many treated Salt Cedar plants had cottonwood seedlings and grasses growing around them, an excellent sight to see! About 30 missed plants were stump-cut and treated during the monitoring trip in June 2018.
2017 MT Salt Cedar Team Recap:
114 Missouri River miles treated for Salt Cedar
1,244 individual Salt Cedar plants were treated
15% of the Montana Missouri River treated, 5% of the total length of the Missouri River in the US treated
Treatment took place over a total of 8 days, 4 days for the first reach, 4 days for the second reach
McCone, Roosevelt, Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and Richland Counties were treated
The Montana Salt Cedar Team will conduct another treatment in 2018, upstream of Fort Peck Lake. A preliminary surveying trip will be made to survey the infestation on the West end of Fort Peck Lake and up the Musselshell River. A treatment plan based on the survey findings will be developed and executed in the Summer of 2018. Casey will have the opportunity to be on both the survey and treatment trips, stay tuned for an update!
Salt Cedar Quick Facts:
Large plants use 200 gallons of water a day
Creates large deposits of salt in the soil, sterilizing soil
Seeds disperse at distances of 100 yards with light wind
The Milk River Watershed Alliance has been recognized as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador!
The Weather–ReadyNation Ambassador initiative is an effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation’s readiness against extreme weather, water, and climate events. As a Weather–ReadyNation Ambassador, the MRWA is committing to work with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather. To learn more about the Weather-Ready Nation, visit http://www.weather.gov/wrn/.
The MRWA is currently producing the Milk River Monthly Status Report which compiles relevant watershed data into one document. The report contains snowpack, snow water equivalent, precipitation, streamflow, reservoir storage, soil moisture, and the drought monitor. Click here to bring you to the Milk River Monthly Status Reports. The MRWA has also played a role in the Milk River Flood Task Force with observations on tributaries to the Milk River during the flooding season.
The third annual Transboundary Grasslands Workshop is set for February 13-15, 2018 at the Cottonwood Inn & Suites in Glasgow, MT. This year’s keynote speakers will discuss challenges for wildlife and human communities on the shared grasslands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana, while showcasing collaborative solutions. Stay tuned for the agenda!
The 2017 Supervisor Summit will be held October 31st and November 1st, 2017 in Great Falls. This year’s theme is “Kick Start Real Change”. Various topics like drone technology, aquatic invasive mussels, landowner engagement, team building, and more, will be included in this event! Check out the links below for the agenda and the details to attend the 2017 Supervisor Summit in Great Falls! The event was made possible by Valley County, Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, and Cascade Conservation Districts with support from MT DNRC.
One of the annual goals for the MRWA, is to provide watershed education and outreach to basin residents in the Milk River watershed. The objective is to raise awareness on the natural resources within the watershed, while also highlighting unique features of the Milk River. Our Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) member has been utilizing DNRC’s Rolling Rivers trailer at various events and organizations.
The Rolling Rivers trailer is an interactive, hands-on trailer, filled with sand made from recycled plastic, and a pump that circulates water to simulate a flowing river. The trailer comes with toy cars, tractors, animals, fences, trees and plants, bridges, culverts, and houses to model how our lives are impacted by water, and how we may impact water and downstream users. The trailer can be used to teach concepts like river energy, flow, riparian areas, erosion, non-point source pollution, diversions and dams.
Our BSWC member, Casey, has been using the trailer across the watershed to benefit children and families by sharing a fun lesson on Milk River watershed features. Casey has used the trailer at Valley County Conservation District’s Outdoor Classroom, The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Hi-Line, and the Water Carnival at the Fort Peck Interpretive Center during the Governor’s Cup fishing tournament.