Since late last summer Last Chance Audubon has been working with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to establish a wildlife/photography blind at the south end of the Helena Regulating Reservoir. LCAS’s blind committee developed a set of plans, staked out the area and set aside funds from the 2018 Fall Fundraiser to support construction of the blind.
The committee spent much of the summer season watching water levels at the reservoir anticipating lower levels in August and September of this year for construction. In early July, the reservoir level was raised to the point that it flooded the potential blind location, as well as the boat ramp and the road leading into the ramp access. This circumstance gave the committee pause to consider the potential location of the blind. Discussions with FWP indicated that the water levels are controlled solely by the Helena Irrigation District and that it may be difficult to anticipate how water levels might be managed by the water district.
Since July, the water at the reservoir has remained extremely high. Although it would seem that irrigation requirements for the Helena valley should be slowing with the approach of fall, the water district’s requisitions (water orders) from Bureau of Reclamation (Canyon Ferry Dam) continue to be substantial enough that the water level may not drop for some time. This is also dependent on how outflows from the reservoir are regulated.
LCAS’s Board of Directors has decided that the construction of a blind needs to be postponed until further research can be completed. Conversations with the water district are needed, and will be key to understanding irrigation requirements, water needs for the City of Helena, and whether or not the construction of a blind on the reservoir would be compatible with how the water is currently managed. LCAS will continue to work with the entities involved, and will keep the chapter and its membership up to date through the monthly newsletter and the chapter website lastchanceaudubon.org.