On June 22nd, construction will finally begin on the project to remove the Rattlesnake Dam and restore Rattlesnake Creek. Built in 1904, the Rattlesnake Creek Dam played an integral part of Missoula’s water supply until 1983.

The City of Missoula acquired the deteriorating dam through the 2017 acquisition of the former Mountain Water Company. Rob Roberts is a Project Manager at Trout Unlimited and he said they have been working with the city on ways they can remove and restore the site.

“We have been working on that for the past three years and we are just now moving in equipment to the site,” Roberts said. “We will remove the concrete spillway and the other structures. Basically, we will be doing a 1,000 foot stream channel restoration project along with wetland and floodplain creation.”

Roberts said all of the man-made infrastructure is going to go away and they plan to make the area look as close as possible to what it looked like 120 years ago.

“What used to be a reservoir and a 20 foot high dam will all be erased and it will become a five acre area with side channels, little wetland pockets, and a floodplain,” Roberts said. “It will all be revegetated and then there will be a nice new 1,000 foot long stream that goes right through it. In about five years or so, it will probably look like we have never been here.”

Roberts said the overall cost for construction is right around $1.3 million.

“That includes the dam removal, the stream restoration, and all of the other work that will go on up here,” Roberts said. “That includes revegetation, fencing, trail work, and kiosks that will be built around the trails surrounding the site after the project is done.”

According to Roberts, almost all of the $1.3 million will come from grant sources and the project should be completed by the end of 2020.