Madison River Foundation to build fence to protect Arasta Creek

The Madison River Foundation is undertaking a big project this month, building nearly two miles of jack-leg fence near Arasta Creek in the Gravelly Mountains to help protect a population of west slope cutthroat trout.

The project will be done in conjunction with the Forest Service and the Bar 7 Ranch, which has the grazing lease for the area, said Richard Lessner, executive director of the Madison River Foundation.

The project is being funded with a $20,000 grant from the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Resource Advisory Council, Lessner said.

Arasta Creek is tributary to Wigwam Creek, which flows into the Madison River south of Ennis. The native population of cutthroat trout in Wigwam Creek has been a focus of previous projects by the foundation. A few years ago they built off stream stock watering improvements and fenced off some sensitive areas of upper Wigwam Creek, he said.

“This is part of the ongoing work on the Wigwam creek drainage to do both exclusion fencing along the creek and improvements to protect the small population of cutthroat trout,” Lessner said.

The fence-building project will take at least three days July 24 – 26.

The goal of the project is to direct cattle toward more appropriate areas of the creek to graze and keep them away from sensitive spots. The project will ultimately help water quality and riparian habitat in Arasta Creek.

The river foundation will provide lunch and tools for volunteers.

“All they have to do is show up with hats, gloves and maybe some sunscreen and bug spray,” he said.

For more information or to volunteer for the project, contact Lessner at 682-3148.

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