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?
Missouri Milkvetch (Astragalus missouriensis) can be seen in spring at Bear Paw Battlefield. Lewis and Clark identified this plant in 1804.