The Bitter Root Water Forum has completed its largest restoration project, removing nearly 20 miles of abandoned and deteriorating roads and restoring the land in almost 2,000 acres in the Sapphire Mountains east of Darby.
The nonprofit detailed its efforts in a presentation to community partners July 27.
Heather Barber, executive director of the BRWF, said the project reduced sediment in Sleeping Child and Rye creeks, restoring stream health and helping westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout.
“The project was one of the most significant projects done to reduce sediment delivery in the Bitterroot National Forest to these high mountain cold water streams,” Barber said. “This project was high up in the mountains and way off the beaten path.”
Years ago, the roads were hastily created for logging and then abandoned. The deteriorating roads prevented the land from absorbing water and allowed too much sediment to flow into the streams. Excess sediment harms fish by filling in the pools where trout spend their winters, smothering their eggs and choking out the insects the fish eat.
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