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Rye Creek - Bank Stabilization


Private land on Rye Creek, a tributary to the upper mainstem of the Bitterroot River nearest Conner in the Sapphire Mountains.


Reduce sediment pollution by nearly 100 tons of soil each year, enhance riparian habitat, and reduce land loss.


An interested landowner approached the Water Forum for help with an eroding bank on his property. Rye Creek banks are eroding unnaturally fast because the land was heavily logged in the past, and huge sections were severely burned in 2000, and the soil is generally highly erosive. Eroding stream banks means degraded streamside habitat and polluted waters. The sediment first pours into Rye Creek from the hillsides and makes its way to the Bitterroot River. 

Native streamside plants:

  • Form thick webs of roots that hold land together, reducing erosion and resulting sediment pollution

  • Improve water quality by filtering pollutants

  • Create shade to keep waters cool for thriving native fish and other aquatic life

  • Help refill our underground water supply

  • Provide important habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife

Project Description

  • The Water Forum and 35 volunteers worked for 300 hours to repair the damaged banks of Rye Creek. Cutting willows, collecting woody debris, making stakes, creating soil lifts, and planting riparian area shrubs were designed to stabilize the bank and provide a healthier habitat for wildlife. 

  • The Water Forum and volunteers collected 5,000 willows and 30 cubic yards of woody debris to help repair and stabilize the bank




Montana Department of Environmental Quality, WGM Group, Geum Environmental Consulting, MT DNRC, Gardner Excavating, McAlpine Family, Elliot Family, 


"Instead of relying on large rocks for stabilization, we’re using woody debris, soils, willows, cobble from the banks, and biodegradable coconut fabric. These materials will provide roughness that will slow water to reduce bank erosion, promote plant growth and provide better riparian habitat for wildlife.”

– Heather Barber

Executive Director, Bitter Root Water Forum


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