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Students complete comprehensive survey of local waterway.

May 20, 2015

Professor of Geology Rob Thomas said the report represents a detailed baseline inventory and assessment of the entire 4.73 mile length of the slough, an old channel of the Beaverhead River.

The project’s goal was to assess the stream prior to a major riparian restoration and fish habitat improvement project by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the Beaverhead Watershed Committee. Thomas said 22 cross sections were identified and surveyed to assess stream function, invertebrate populations, riparian vegetation and stream habitat. The data will be used to conduct comparative studies to see if the restoration work was successful going forward. 

Matt Jaeger of FWP said the Poindexter restoration project includes replacing existing irrigation infrastructure, mechanically modifying channel dimensions, transplanting riparian vegetation to improve bank stability and restoring fish habitat.

“I am extremely proud of our students’ efforts,” Thomas said. “Because we teach under Experience One where students take a single class at a time, we can provide concentrated learning experiences that are real, relevant to society and will prepare them for situations they will encounter in the working world or as they continue on to graduate school.”

“These student are doing graduate level research at the undergraduate level,” he said. 

Students conducted the study between September and October 2014 and published their findings in May 2015. The report was prepared for Jeager and his department and will be used to help guide the restoration work into the future.

Sixteen students supervised by Thomas participated in the class including Robert Barnes, Jessica Bryers, Shelby Crandall, Joe Heald, Kristine Heinen, Jessica Heiner, Katherine Iverson, Kassie Kidrick, Sawyer Kindle, Sara Maslen, Skyler Mitchell, Ryan Otto, Zach Phillips, Zachary Reimnitz, Brynn Schroeder and Wyatt Tropea.

Click to find out more about Montana Western’s environmental science programs.