In the fall of 2014, an exciting restoration project will begin on the campus of Bozeman High School: a new stream channel will be shaped for Mandeville Creek and native vegetation will be planted. On the school’s property, the creek runs from Main Street to Durston Avenue along North 11th Avenue. Currently, the stream has a straight, narrow, fast flowing channel. Decades ago, during construction on the school’s property, the stream had culverts added that transformed it into a straight creek that created a harsh living environment for native wildlife species.
The upcoming restoration project involves extensive correction on the current channel to increase the volume and depth. It will be completely reshaped and defined. The creek will be restored to that of a high elevation mountain stream. Landscaping rocks will add attractiveness to the project. Native trout species will also be planted in the stream. Spawning pools, lined with gravel, will be placed at various locations along the creek to help replenish the fish population.
The project is led by Robin Hompesch, a Wildlife Ecology and Biology teacher at Bozeman High. She has been working on the project for five years. Her work in the biology field inspired her to start a project aimed at restoring Mandeville Creek on the school’s property. Due to the decline of similar creeks in urban settings throughout the nation, a law was passed in 1970 to protect the destruction or transformation of natural streams in the United States.
“What we’ll be doing is correcting the past, mistakes that have been made in the past”, said Hompesch. Her creative thinking and technical design plans will maximize the usefulness of the project. For example, by implementing outdoor classrooms in her restoration project, Hompesch will make Mandeville Creek easily accessible for students to enjoy during school.
For years the stream was ignored and abused. No restoration efforts on the creek have been made since 1969. In 1969, the senior class at Bozeman Senior High School helped to restore a small portion of the stream near Main Street.
Abigail Breuer teamed up with Robin Hompesch on the project. Breuer spoke of the importance of the project for the community.
“The creek goes straight to the East Gallatin River, so it is an important creek in Bozeman”, she said. Water in developed city areas, such as Bozeman, is vital to the survival of native fish, birds, and mammals.
“One thing that’s interesting is it’s a creek that runs on the campuses both of the high school and MSU.” That makes it the most publicly accessible creek in town. A small section of Mandeville Creek was restored on the campus of Montana State. A group of MSU students worked on the campus to have the creek treated as an amenity, rather than a problem. However, the restoration project at Bozeman High is much more in depth.
“As there’s more and more development, we need to do a better job of stewarding water resources, and this is an opportunity to do that in a place where students can learn, and where it’s very visible to the community,” Breuer commented.
Breuer is also using her knowledge of ecology and restoration to contribute to the project.
“There’s tremendous opportunity to show what proper ecological restoration can look like in an urban setting”, said Breuer. Over 50 years ago, when the high school was constructed, Mandeville Creek was reshaped into a straight, narrow creek with fast moving water. The stream was abused and transformed into a poor living environment for wildlife.
With the new stream channel comes increased volume and depth, which will provide more space not only for wildlife, but also for flood water as runoff increases in the spring. For example, the current stream floods out of control during the rainy months each year. This poses a threat and is not ideal on school grounds. Countless other problems will be solved by the Mandeville Creek restoration project.
Beginning in August, the section of the creek from Main Street to the north side of ‘E-Wing’ at Bozeman High School will have a new channel dug. Along with this, aspen trees and other types of native vegetation will be planted. Outdoor classrooms will also be constructed throughout the newly landscaped area, which will give students the opportunity to learn in a natural setting. Additionally, the current concrete bridges that pass over Mandeville Creek will be replaced with attractive, wooden bridges. The replacement of bridges will improve the overall exterior of the school.
On the north end of the campus, additional vegetation will be added. Currently, the stream cannot be altered due to lack of available area. The vegetation in itself, however, will also aid in the restoration project. Further restoration is also likely for this section in the future.
Hompesch and Breuer have tackled the issue, and continue to dedicate tremendous hours in an effort to correct the abused stream. Numerous individuals and businesses have donated their time and supplies to the project.
Through grants and donations, Hompesch has raised over $60,ooo dollars. However, the project is still not fully funded. Be sure to like the new Mandeville Creek project Facebook page for additional information.
Kyle Jones HawkJanuary2014