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Elbow Coulee Phases 1 and 2

Elbow Coulee, Phases 1 and 2, Stream Restoration, Enhancement and Irrigation Improvements

Project type

Stream Restoration


2015 to 2019


Teton County, Montana

Elbow Coulee, Teton County, Montana, Phases 1-2 Stream Restoration, Reconnection, Enhancement, Preservation and Irrigation Improvements (2015-2019)
TWR Principal, Robert Sain (for and with Kroenke Ranches) completed a watershed assessment, fluvial geomorphic and hydrological investigations, pre and post restoration fish biomass surveys, detailed 3-D design plans, permitting, construction oversight and monitoring for this multi-phase—4 year project. Over 4,000 linear feet of new stream channel alignments were constructed to circumvent irrigation infrastructure stressors while also reconnecting the stream that was once longitudinally fragmented by an irrigation canal. In addition, 3,500 feet of streambank enhancements and 14,000 feet of channel preservation were made possible with 2 miles of cattle exclusion fence installed to help self-heal the channel and adjacent 600 acres. Over 30,000 cubic yards of materials was moved and 50 acres of land disturbance reclaimed with native vegetation. The Elbow Coulee project initiative is unique in that the objectives cover a broad spectrum of ranch operational improvements, fish passage, improved habitat for fish and waterfowl, spawning and fishing. Materials used for this project were harvested from adjacent wetlands and an on-site, gravel pit where specific size gravels were sorted for spawning beds. TWR (Sain) worked closely with the client, the ranch manager, the Teton County conservation district, FWP biologists and the Army Corps of Engineers. The finished product functions well for the ranch water operations and also fishes really well. The final phase, Elbow Coulee Phase 3, is underway and expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

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