Rattlesnake Reservoir Restoration

Rattlesnake Reservoir Site Restoration

Project Partners: Missoula Water, Missoula Parks & Recreation, Trout Unlimited, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Project Overview and Design Alternatives, March 2018 (PDF)

Public Comment Summary and Survey Results (PDF)

Project Description

The lower Rattlesnake Creek dam was built in 1904 and played a role in Missoula's water supply until 1983 when the water supply was transferred to solely groundwater wells. The dam is now inoperable and not essential. Since assuming ownership of the water utility, now Missoula Water, the City has formed a partnership with Trout Unlimited and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to investigate a mitigation and restoration project at the dam to address fisheries, public recreation, public safety, and liability.

Project Benefits

Rattlesnake Creek is one of the major sources of trout for the Clark Fork River and a highly popular recreation area for the public. Removal of the dam would reduce Missoula Water's work on maintenance and operations, reconnect 26 miles of habitat for fish and wildlife, create new opportunities for trails and other recreation and reestablish a natural river connection between the Rattlesnake Wilderness at the headwaters and the Clark Fork River for the first time in more than 100 years

Opportunities for Public Comment

The City of Missoula and Trout Unlimited hosted a public open house for the Lower Rattlesnake Dam and Reclamation Project in March 2018. Information presented at the open house outlined the existing options to enhance Rattlesnake Creek and the creek corridor in the area of the dam and included maps and graphs and options for preservation and recreation opportunities. The City solicited public comment at the open house and through an online public opinion questionnaire, results here. Based on the results of public comments, the project partners will continue to refine design and costs focusing on the alternative and goals that gain the best value per community input and per best practices in science and engineering.

Expected Timeframe

2018: Conceptual Design Alternatives, Public Scoping and Review, Preliminary Design, Further Data Collection, Fundraising, and Project Planning

2019: Planning and Permitting, Final Design and Bid Documents, Site Preparation

2020: Construction and Site Closure, Re-vegetation and Recreation Enhancement

2021-2025: Project Monitoring


Project Overview and Design Alternatives, March 2018 (PDF)
Public Comment Summary and Survey Results, April 2018 (PDF)

Project Costs and Funding

Final construction costs will depend on the restoration alternative selected and the results of public scoping, level of effort, permitting and other factors. Trout Unlimited is currently seeking funding sources for project implementation. The project partners have secured the engineering and technical services of River Design Group and Morrison-Maierle, Inc. to evaluate the dam and associated infrastructure and develop options for restoration. Missoula Water has contributed $100,000 toward site evaluation and preliminary engineering and design. Missoula Parks and Recreation, Trout Unlimited and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are contributing in-kind and professional services to the project.

Recent Updates - Summer 2021

Our work at the restoration site this summer will focus on maintaining and monitoring the site by weeding, watering, and performing any other tasks needed to keep the planted and seeded vegetation alive and thriving. We are also surveying for birds, amphibians, and reptiles to document the recovery of wildlife to the area. We will likely do some additional planting this fall, so watch for volunteer opportunities in September if you would like to help.

Work on the trails and informational kiosks will begin in 2022. Click here for more information about on-site fencing and vegetation as well as an access map.

June 2019

The Montana Legislature recently awarded the project $125,000 through the Department of Natural Resources Renewable Resource Grant & Loan Program.

The City of Missoula applied for a $475,000 Hazard Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it has passed the first round of approval. With this last piece, the project will be fully funded.


Morgan Valliant, Conservation Lands Manager, Missoula Parks and Recreation, 552-6263

Rob Roberts, Project Manager, Trout Unlimited, 543-0054

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