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Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area fish habitat restoration project wraps up

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Posted at 10:54 AM, Aug 15, 2023

Restoring fish habitats is a continuous effort for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Sometimes that effort can take some time before its completed.

MTN’s Chet Layman takes us to the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area near Anaconda where a restoration project was completed this summer about nine years after it was started.

The Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area is home to a lot of different wildlife. Thanks to a nearly decade-long effort that includes the return of a couple of native fish to a stream decimated by historic mine waste.

“What this represents is nine years of work to be able to restore a water system to a condition where it can support not just these fish that have been restored but also a host of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife there on the wildlife management area,” FWP’s Morgan Jacobsen said.

Along with stream channel restoration, vegetation efforts, and removal of non-native fish. The French Creek project also includes a fish barrier on a scale not seen many times in Montana.

“This fish barrier, the scale is unusual. It’s quite large. It’s 220 feet across at the base. Something like 111 feet high to protect those native species that have now been restored, so it allows them to move down stream, but prevents other species from swimming upstream,” Jacobsen said. “So that most of the French Creek can remain a good place for arctic Greyling and Westslope Cutthroat Trout which are native to that area.”

Dozens of partnerships along with years of work by many in and out of Montana FWP all come together when Arctic Greyling and Westslope Cutthroat Trout once again saw the waters of the French Creek earlier this summer.

“This is one of those career achievements that a lot of folks at FWP have been really excited about. To be able to restore upwards of 40 stream miles for native fish. That means things like doing restoration work on the stream channel, vegetation, and upland work treating the bulk of French Creek to remove those nonnative species,” Jacobsen said. “With as much area as this includes, was really a monumental feat. Now, this summer to be able to reintroduce genetically pure Arctic Greyling and Westslope Cutthroat Trout to a stream that has been their home for thousands of years is just super exciting.”

Adding another jewel to that crown that is the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area.