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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

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 will 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 is spear heading 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. Although significant progress was made, due to staff transitions and other challenges, the document was never completed. We have ramped up efforts to complete the WRP by the end of this year. Earlier this summer, 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 are using the information we gathered to write a draft WRP. We plan to complete the first draft in the fall of 2022, and will make it available to anyone who would like to review it and provide feedback. Once we receive feedback, we will update the WRP and submit it to Montana DEQ.

Public input is an important part of this process. If you would like to share potential restoration sites, water quality concerns, or comment on the WRP process, 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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