In our 2018 winter grant cycle, we awarded Montana Trout Unlimited (MTU) a grant to further their work to remove the Rattlesnake Dam, located near Missoula, Montana. The dam was removed in August 2020, and was a collaborative effort from many stakeholders including the City of Missoula and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Now, for the first time in over a century, 35 river miles are naturally reconnected. This is a significant win for all wildlife, particularly for native fish, as the area is known to be one of the best spawning areas for many species, including westslope cutthroat and bull trout.
The dam removal marks the beginning of a multi-year process to restore 10 acres of wetlands, create 45 acres of new open space, and sets the stage for the construction of two miles of new trail for bikers, hikers, and skiers to enjoy. Additionally, the removal of this dam will facilitate a new 5-mile class II/III boating opportunity for recreationists. Further vegetation work in the area will begin in the spring of 2021, and construction for the mixed-use trail will begin in the summer.