The Bitterroot River runs alongside Hamilton's news city park, Skalkaho Bend. The river is known to change channels each flood season and that fact has brought about a new plan for the parkland. According to the Bitter Root Water Forum, the river has been migrating to the east, into the park which is in the floodplain. Estimates put the erosion as about an acre of land in the park area every 5 years. The Forum, in a plan proposal, noted that hydrologists estimate that by 2040 the Bitterroot River could intercept the C&C ditch which runs through the eastern part of the park. The City of Hamilton Public Works Department and the Water Forum would like to plant willows and other vegetation near the riverbanks to reduce the erosion.

Geum Environmental Consulting of Hamilton designed the project, after analysis of Applied Geomorphology out of Bozeman. The proposed includes excavation of a long, shallow swale and planting willows and other native plants such as dogwood, cottonwood and serviceberry in the depression to control erosion and also maintain a nice view.
The project area would also have temporary wildlife fence. The project would also provide future protection of the C&C Ditch.

The plan would require a growth period of at least 10 years to provide a good buffer, so officials would like to start soon. And if the river decides to move to the west, the area would still be a riparian area for birds and wildlife. The affected area is about one percent of the total park area.

You can find out more information at the Bitter Root Forum website, where you'll also find information about a Zoom meeting Monday, November 9, when an online presentation is planned.

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