Posted: Sep 18, 2012 9:06 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Sep 18, 2012 9:23 PM
LOLO- Quick work by anglers and ranchers means water is flowing once more in the lower reaches of Lolo Creek, saving thousands of fish and other creates in jeopardy because of the dry conditions.
Water levels had been dropping in Lolo Creek for several weeks now. By Monday there simply wasn't enough water to go around for ranches at the north end of the Bitterroot Valley and the fish and other aquatic life in the creek.
Local anglers sounded the alarm, showing us how the stream had all but disappeared more than a mile above its confluence with the Bitterroot River. Hundreds of fish of all sizes were left behind in a few pools of water that were rapidly evaporating with rising water temperatures.
It looked like it would be a repeat of the last fish kill on Lolo Creek during the equally dry year of 2007. But within a few hours, a streambed that had turned into puddles of stranded fish was flowing again.
Officials said some of the ranches upstream learned of the problems caused by their diversion of irrigation water and adjusted their headgates so there was a better flow coming downstream. Volunteers were still working through the day to help rescue and move some of the fish until the water made it back downstream.
Those combined efforts appear to have paid off. All of the individual holes are once more connected by flowing water, with levels rising so that the creek has at least returned to late summer levels.
That helps for now. Of course the real solution will come from not upstream, but from the sky, when the rains finally return.