Little McCormick Creek Project

Project Date: 2009


Partners: Trout Unlimited


Involvement: Funding assistance


Placer mining restoration project. 

Little McCormick Creek is a tributary of Ninemile Creek, located approximately ten miles upstream from Ninemile Creek’s confluence with the Clark Fork River.  Little McCormick Creek was intensively placer mined for gold during the last century. Prior to reclamation activities, there was an estimated 503 tons of sediment entering Little McCormick Creek each year from unstable streambanks, and the base level of the valley bottom was lowered approximately 12 feet.  The stream was confined by dredge piles and the channel lacked a functional floodplain. There was little remaining riparian vegetation in the disturbed materials and the creek went dry for approximately 800 feet in the summer. Fish population surveys showed that westslope cutthroat dominated Little McCormick Creek upstream of the mine disturbance and were present in relatively high densities.  Below the project area, fish populations were comprised of native and non-native species and found in lower densities. 

TU and the Lolo National Forest reconstructed approximately 3500 feet of stream channel and replaced an undersized culvert crossing on Road #392.  Eventually, the project will reconnect Little McCormick Creek to the Ninemile Creek watershed and allow migratory cutthroat to access spawning areas for the first time in 70 years. 


Photos:  Stream channel – before and after