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Watershed Planning
Local planning starts with local input, and ends with a product that the community understands, supports, and champions for the future of our region.  Through engagement of many types of people, the Watershed Planning process is a way to identify topics that affect the health of our land and waters in a comprehensive manner.  This process provides input on how these issues will be addressed, and who in our area can play a role in the successful future management and restoration activities.  
Madison Watershed Restoration Plan
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The Madison Watershed is extremely important to those who live here and many more who visit each year. A watershed is a geographic area from which all the water flows into one place (the Madison River). When thinking about watershed health, it encompasses much more than just the mainstem. We have to consider all of the tributaries and the land around them that water moved over and through.

Because we care so deeply about the health of the watershed, it’s important to have a plan for how we will take care of it. A Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP) is an official document that will act as a guide for work done in the Madison. In the document, we provide background on the Madison Watershed and identify best management practices, opportunities for watershed health improvement, and a plan for how we will implement and monitor progress. Additionally, having a recognized WRP recognized makes the Madison Watershed eligible to receive grants under Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These grants are awarded to fund restoration projects that improve water quality and watershed health. The WRP is created for the geographic area of the watershed, rather than following political boundaries. The map provided shows an outline of the Madison Watershed in comparison to county boundaries. Parts of the watershed are in Beaverhead County, Gallatin County, and Yellowstone National Park, but the large majority falls within Madison County.

In order for a WRP to be accepted by the EPA, it must include nine key elements:

  1. Identify causes and sources of pollution.
  2. Estimate pollutant loading into the watershed and expected load reductions.
  3. Describe management measures to achieve load reductions in targeted critical areas.
  4. Estimate the required technical and financial assistance and the relevant authorities needed to implement the plan.
  5. Develop an information/education component.
  6. Develop a project schedule.
  7. Describe interim measurable milestones.
  8. Identify indicators to measure progress.
  9. Develop a monitoring component.

The WRP process recognizes that local knowledge and priorities of the community are extremely important when considering watershed health. Although the Madison Conservation District has spear headed the efforts, it is a public document open to public comment. Back in 2017, MCD held several public meetings in an effort to produce a WRP. In the summer of 2022, we hosted a public meeting at the Madison Valley Public Library to get input from the community and other local organizations. We were able to pin point some focus areas and used the information we gathered to write a draft WRP.

After several years of revisions and the hard work of many at the Madison Conservation District, the Madison WRP was finalized and accepted by DEQ in April 2024. This is a living document that will continue to be updated and evaluated every five years. We thank you for your support and additions during this process and we look forward to progressing throughout this plan together. To view, click here Madison WRP

If you would like more information on the Madison WRP, please reach out to or stop by our office in the Lone Elk Mall Office Suit 2B, located at 222 E. Main Street.

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