A debris flow up the Monture Creek drainage near the Bob Marshall Wilderness on Monday made its way into the Blackfoot River and eventually the Clark Fork River by Thursday morning, catching the eye of Missoulians accustomed to clear-flowing water in the waning days of summer.
The Lolo National Forest said the debris flow was prompted by an intense downpour on Monday and exacerbated by the area’s terrain and old fire scars. Several tributaries were impacted, along with the Monture Campground, a local outfitter camp and Monture Creek Trail #27.
Due to the weather event, Monture Creek remains muddy and is causing discoloration to rivers downstream. It’s expected to last for several days, according to the Forest Service.
“As rain showers develop over the summer months, these discoloration events are expected to reoccur and movement of debris and water within the Rice Ridge burned area is common,” the Forest Service said. “Forest Service personnel will be flying over the drainage to survey and assess the extent of the debris flow and its impacts.”
An emergency closure of the Monture Creek Trail #27 from the Falls Creek junction to Limestone Pass has been put in place due to public safety concerns. The Limestone Pass Trail had already been closed due to the proximity of the Dry Cabin Fire.
The discoloration of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers caught the attention of Missoula County officials on Thursday morning.
“I looked down and thought it (Clark Fork) looked bony, but it looked chocolate too,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “With widespread fire and pandemic, we don’t have enough plagues.”
Contact the Seeley Lake Ranger Station at (406) 677-2233 or follow the Lolo National Forest on Facebook for the latest information.