HELENA – Prickly Pear Land Trust and its community partners celebrated a big milestone Thursday as they completed the next step in their project to restore parts of Sevenmile Creek outside Helena.
Construction work began in June on the 2.2 mile section of the creek near the Scratchgravel Hills. The work involved closing off a portion of the damaged stream and rerouting water to the new channel. Years ago, the water was manually redirected and as a result, the current stream bed became eroded and the channel deepened. That erosion forced sediment downstream and into the Lake Helena watershed – which became a problem and is ultimately what spurred the beginning of the restoration work.
“These restoration projects are an opportunity to address that top issue with the overall watershed which is the erosion of sediment,” Mary Hollow, Executive Director for Prickly Pear Land Trust, said.
The project has far reaching implications for wildlife and the nearby ecosystem as well. Plant life will benefit from a more stable stream channel and birds will also have a better habitat to live in.
“At some point, we hope for this to be a really thriving area in the valley where people can come to see the incredible bird life that is out here,” Hollow said.
Prickly Pear Land Trust said they’ve working on this project for two years since they acquired the property back in 2016.
Phase three, the last section of the creek to be restored, lies on a federally mapped floodplain. Hollow said that specific section will require more permitting and more time. Organizers hope to have the project completed by Spring 2019.
Prickly Pear Land Trust partnered with Northwestern Energy, Future Fisheries, the City of Helena and others to make the project a reality.