Back in 2017, the Mayor of Missoula, Montana announced the removal of an inoperable dam on Rattlesnake Creek. Today, construction crews are preparing to bring down the 116 year old inoperable dam. This work comes after years of work and support from the City of Missoula’s Water Division and Parks and Recreation Department, Trout Unlimited, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, and dozens of local business.
The dam will come down in stages throughout the summer. Crews are waiting for spring runoff and high water levels to recede before fully removing the dam. Over the past weeks, preparation work frequented Rattlesnake Creek–buildings have come down and heavy machinery is ready to go. The goal is to have the dam out and flows restored by mid-October.
The restoration of Rattlesnake creek will produce many direct benefits for Missoula. The Missoula Department of Parks and Recreation highlighted these: “reduce Missoula Water’s work on maintenance and operations, reconnect 26 miles of habitat for fish and wildlife, create new opportunities for trails and other recreation and reestablish a natural river connection between the Rattlesnake Wilderness at the headwaters and the Clark Fork River for the first time in more than 100 years.” Restoration will also improve habitat for native westslope cutthroat and bull trout.
If you want to follow along this project and watch the restoration work progress, a webcam has been installed to give interested people a daily glimpse. Check it out here.
More info on the Rattlesnake dam removal project can be found through this Missoula Current article.
Cover picture courtesy of UC Davis.