Educators have long known that Fleshman Creek provides an invaluable outdoor classroom environment; however, well-orchestrated community projects on the creek have been hard to come by. There is ample evidence that the creek's water quality is impaired through observations of excessive sedimentation, turbidity, algae blooms and warm water temperatures. In 2003, the lowest stretch of Fleshman Creek was restored which has provided beneficial trout spawning and rearing habitat. Students from Sleeping Giant Middle School assisted in revegetating the adjacent floodplain areas for native plant colonization.
Existing water quality and macroinvertibrate data for Fleshman Creek between the restored reach of H Street to the Yellowstone River - has been collected by students at Livingston School Districts 1 & 4, every spring since 2004. This data will serve as a general baseline for future monitoring collection efforts, with annual collection of data dedicated to the project by volunteers from the teaching staff and students at Livingston School Districts 1 & 4. Students at Livingston Public Schools will assist with installation of plants on the restored sections of Fleshman Creek. Both of these education and outreach elements will not only raise awareness within our community concerning watershed health, but provide community members the opportunities and tools to improve it. By creating its own sustainable monitoring and restoration program in concert with other projects that have recently been initiated by local businesses and community entities, the Livingston Public School students can create the kind of on-going stewardship of an important, authentic and multi-faceted local project in which they can take ownership in their role of the preservation and restoration of a local resource. Recently, in collaboration with MFWP, OASIS Environmental, Dr. Dan Voyich, Trout Unlimited, the City of Livingston, Park County and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Livingston Public School students completed several non-point source water quality studies and have participated in stream restoration projects on Fleshman Creek. Second-, fourth-, seventh- and tenth-grade students sampled macro-invertebrates, quantified and identified riparian plant species and measured physical and chemical parameters of water quality. Advanced agriculture students collected grab samples for analysis as part of a sampling plan funded by the DEQ. Future projects involving Park County students include installation of remote sensing equipment for pH, conductivity, turbidity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen; willow cutting and installation; and rearing of native wetland plants for future revegetation needs.
Successful project measurement strategies and monitoring activities will allow stakeholders to measure the effectiveness of projects through time and under a range of changing environmental conditions including flooding or drought, channel shifts and erosion and beaver activity. In addition, monitoring efforts will help identify maintenance and project repair needs, provide information on ways to improve and refine management/restoration techniques, and will be used to evaluate watershed restoration strategy - to learn from mistakes and adapt future restoration projects to the lessons learned. The monitoring components of this project are linked to all program components, providing data for watershed assessments, tracking program and project effectiveness and providing educational experiences for all ages of interested community members. Any restoration or improvements implemented on Fleshman Creek will involve a long-term monitoring program to assess progress of overall goals, specifically the success of new YCT habitat areas; the integrity of hydraulic structures and the stream channel; improvements to water quality and quantity; and the overall health of the newly restored riparian, wetland and aquatic habitats. At a minimum, Livingston Public School students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10 will continue to monitor physical, chemical and biological data as part of their Livingston Public School Stream Study curriculum.
Link to Fleshman Creek Restoration Project Video as provided by Livingston Public Schools.August 26 2013 Informational Flyer distributed to affected Livingston Schools