Rivers and Streams
Freshwater habitats are diverse and productive ecosystems, providing habitat for aquatic plant, invertebrate, and vertebrate species including many fishes and birds. Rivers and streams are intimately connected to riparian zones, providing homes to very unique species. Additionally, most upland animals rely on aquatic habitats to one degree or another.
Water resources in the semi-arid west have been strongly affected by human activity, and most streams and rivers in Nez Perce National Historical Park (which includes Big Hole National Battlefield) are listed by states as impaired for one or more parameters. Most water bodies and many aquatic resources, such as migratory fish, are strongly influenced by activities in the larger watersheds outside park boundaries. Understanding the current status of freshwater ecosystems will help guide management and restoration efforts and provide insight into ecosystem change in a landscape with shifting climate and dynamic human influences.
Threats to water resources in Big Hole have been listed as: flow impairment, mining, agriculture, and storm water runoff. In addition, the North Fork Big Hole River has been greatly changed from its historic appearance due to de-watering. In 2009, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, temperature, and turbidity were studied on the North Fork of the Big Hole River. In addition, aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects that live in the water) were collected. Results indicate that water quality is good, based on state standards.
Did You Know?
Lt John Sturgis, son of the commanding officer of the 7th Cavalry, was killed at Little Big Horn in 1876. Some think that the extreme caution shown by Colonel Samuel Sturgis at the Canyon Creek Battle, only committing half of his forces, was a result of his son’s death the preceding year.