The Sun River Watershed group leads projects and programs that support our mission to work collaboratively to protect and restore the resources of the Sun River watershed and its communities. Our programs restore and protect the health of the Sun River watershed, including improving water quality and streamflows, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, and weed control. We also provide outreach and education to local communities about watershed issues.
For nearly 20 years, Rai Hahn has collected water quality data from April through October on the Sun River and many tributaries. Rai’s data provides a science-based view of water quality trends over time and across the watershed. Rai often incorporates local community students, teaching them to collect and analyze water samples and about the importance of watershed health. Funding for analysis of these samples is provided by the Department of Environmental Quality Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program. The Bureau of Land Management and Montana State University Extension Water Quality department also provide support for this program.
Water Quality Resources
Sun River water quality information is available on the MSEWQ Data Hub.
The Sun River Water Quality Working Group is made up of stakeholders with an interest in water quality in the watershed.
Several reports and analyses are available about Sun River Water Quality.
Data recorded by stream gages inform important decisions and stream conditions. The Sun River Watershed Group and partners use these data to determine where to invest time and money in water conservation, habitat restoration, and water use efficiency. Gage data are invaluable for measuring changes to streamflow to determine if improvement projects or management changes are effective.
Operating and maintaining gages in the Sun River watershed can be costly. However, data provided by gages is critical for informing water managers and users. You can help support SRWG’s stream gages.
This interactive map can be used to view gages, points of diversion, and other features within the Sun River Watershed.
The Sun River Water Management Working Group meets twice per year.
Many reports have been compiled to assess and plan water management in the Sun River watershed.
Fish + Wildlife
The Sun River watershed is a special place for fish and wildlife. From the wilds of the Sun Canyon, to the deer and elk in the Sun River Wildlife Management area, to the fish that need a healthy river and connected streams, managing habitat health is a big endeavor. SRWG works closely with our partners to understand and address the needs of the abundant fish and wildlife that live here.
Fish + Wildlife Resources
Each year, FWP surveys fish populations at several locations in the watershed. These surveys help biologists understand fish health, population distribution, and other factors that inform fish management. SRWG can use this information to guide habitat improvement projects.
The Sun River Watershed, like most of Montana, has experienced a steady increase of noxious weed infestation, particularly spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe), leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), and houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale). While some areas of Montana have suffered tremendous economic and habitat loss due to noxious weeds, proactive management of noxious weeds in the Sun River Watershed is still cost-effective and physically manageable in most areas. However, chronic weed problems exist along riparian corridors, roadways and access points to public lands. In an ever-growing number of cases, weeds are spreading from stream corridors to adjacent private and public lands. Both formal and informal weed management initiatives in the Sun River Watershed will continue to center around drainages, as landowners tend to organize themselves this way. Additionally, drainages are a conduit for the spread of seeds and control methods are more complex in riparian areas because chemical and vehicle use is more restricted. Fighting weeds in these corridors require a lot of labor and creativity to be successful. Sun River Watershed Group partners have substantially increased weed management on irrigated lands. Finally, by expanding weed management areas by subdrainage, we expect to improve cooperative efforts across a broad area of the Sun River Watershed. The areas that are included in these active efforts are the:
- Sun River Valley Ditch Company
- Fort Shaw Irrigation District
- Greenfields Irrigation District
- Fairfield Bench area
- Broken O Ranch area
- Upper Sun River tributaries
- Sun Canyon
Each summer, the Sun River Watershed Group hosts our Weed Whacker Rodeo. Volunteers spend the morning pulling weeds, followed by a BBQ lunch, awards, and door prizes.
SRWG also partners with the US Forest Service, the Rocky Mountain Front Range Round Table, and other partners each year to host several other weed pulls and weed spray days.
Outreach + Education
EVENTS AND VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
The Sun River Watershed Group hosts and participates in events to help the public learn about our organization and our watershed. These range from project tours to workshops to outreach tables at community events.
SRWG’s annual, seasonal water monitoring program is entirely volunteer-led and often presents opportunities for students to participate in data collection and even to conduct their own research.
SRWG coordinates working groups, which are focused groups of Sun River stakeholders that meet once or twice a year to discuss watershed issues and find strategies to solve problems.
Each year from April through November, Rai Hahn collects water quality data at several locations in the watershed. Rai often recruits volunteers from the community and local classrooms to participate in data collection.
Each fall, volunteers are needed at the end of the irrigation season to assist the Fish Rescue Crew.
There are several weed pulls and sprays in the Upper Sun River watershed each year, organized by SRWG and our project partners.
SRWG relies on our board members and community volunteers to help at outreach and fundraising events from baseball games to our annual meeting and 25th anniversary.