Prairies vs. Mountain Streams

Assessment team leader Candace Barnes

Rock Creek


The following are pictures and observations of streams from my family trip to South Dakota and Montana.
This is a small water fall in a stream in South Dakota, The name of the area is The Needles in Custer State Park. I took these pictures on July 1st, 2010. The weather was 70 degrees F and partly cloudy. This is in a forest. The water temperature was 42 degrees F (10 degrees C). There was no distinguishing color of the water, it was very clear and you could see all the way to the bottom. There was hardly any odor, if any it was all natural smelling. I did not observe any foam present in this stream. The channel condition was very good, there were no man made dams or levees. There were also no barriers to fish movment. There was lots of diversity, a small water fall, a little pool, and both slow and fast moving water. There were many different types of fish cover, rocks and boulders near by, and some exposed tree roots. This stream is in a forest so there was riparian vegetation as you can see in the second to last photo for this stream. There was some evidence of erosion, for example exposed tree roots.



This is a small stream in Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Montana. These photos were taken on July 4th, 2010. The site name is Avalanche Trail. The weather was 59 degrees F and cloudy. This stream was in a heavily wooded forest. There was no water color in this stream. as you can see in the first picture, you could see clear to the bottom. There was no odor detecatble. There was no foam in this stream also. The channel condition was great, also with no levees or dams. There were no barriers to fish movement. There was lots of diversity in this stream, slow and fast moving water, and deep and shallow parts. There were many different types of fish cover, including logs and rocks and tree roots. Like the last stream, this stream is in a forest so there is lots of riparian vegetation. As you can see in the last picture, it is heavily shaded, which may be a reason why the water temperature is so cool. Also, this steam is at an elevation of 3,500 feet, which may be another reason why the water temp. is cooler.
As I compare the streams in Kansas to the streams in South Dakota and Montana, I notice several differences. The main thing I noticed was the difference in water color. The streams in Kansas have a darker dirt color, making it impossible to see very far into the water, while the streams in South Dakota and Montana were very clear, even if you were waist deep in water you would be able to clearly see the bottom. I think this is because these streams have a rockier or gravel bottom, which blocks the dirt from coming into the water. Another difference I noticed was the water temperature. The water temp. in South Dakota and Montana were cooler than the streams in Kansas because of the heavily shaded forests they are in and also because of their higher elevation.