Musselshell River Channel Restoration Project ProposedNews Type: State Source: Billings Gazette
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Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is asking for public comment on a proposal to reconnect a channel of the Musselshell River southwest of Melstone that was cut off by flooding.
Flood waters broke through the riverbank in 2018 and cut off the 1.5-mile loop in the river, leaving irrigation systems and homes without water and drying up wildlife habitat. The proposed work would add rock and vegetation to the breeched riverbank to divert water back into the channel, lengthening the river by more than a mile and decreasing the speed and slope of the water.
Over the course of history, railroad and highway work and agricultural projects have straightened and diverted the river more than 100 times, cutting off at least 35 miles of meanders. The result is a steeper slope in the overall river, which increases the speed of flowing water, causes more erosion downstream and makes the river valley less resilient during major flooding.