skip to Main Content
(406) 454-0056 PO Box 118, Winnett, MT 59087

Sun River Channel Migration Map Project


A new study being developed by the Sun River Watershed Group and Cascade Conservation
District will investigate the historic movement and channel locations of the Sun River. The study,
known as a Channel Migration Zone map, will use historic photos, data, and local knowledge to
understand how the Sun River moves through the basin. The outcome will be a public, non-
regulatory tool that can be used for planning and development, or avoiding development, along
the main Sun River.
The project is being managed by the Sun River Watershed Group. Watershed Coordinator
Tracy Wendt says the report will be a valuable resource for the public. “We’ve met with folks
who live in the communities along the river and we know they worry about losing land and
structures when the river moves. This report will help us understand where risk is high, and it
can be used to help people plan and prepare.”
The study will assess a portion of the main Sun River from near where the river crosses
Highway 287 to just downstream of Muddy Creek. This is an important section because of the
significant impacts channel relocation has on farms, ranches, towns and roads. The study will
break down this section of the river into reaches and assess the risk of river movement based
on past patterns. This risk assessment will support planning for future river work, infrastructure
locations and protection, flood mitigation, and other activities to ensure the best use of funding
and effort, as well as to maximize ecological benefits.
Cascade Conservation District Chair Gayla Wortman shares her excitement, “The CMZ map
project has been in our sights for a number of years, so it’s great to finally get it launched!”
The project will be performed by Karin Boyd (Applied Geomorphology) and Tony Thatcher (DTM
Consulting). “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to map the Sun River this spring,” says
Boyd. “We’ll be mapping the Sun River prior to the 1964 flood, so we’ll be able to gain some
insight as to the impacts of that incredible event. We will carry the mapping through to 2019, so
recent floods will also be captured in the assessment. In our experience, the results have been
useful to landowners making plans to locate or protect infrastructure.”
Funding for the report comes from a DNRC 223 Grant issued to Cascade Conservation District
and from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). For more information, contact Tracy
Wendt at or Emma Link at
SRWG Photo: Sun River during 2019 flood.
# # #
For more information on this press release, please contact:
Tracy Wendt, (406) 214 2868,
Emma Link, (406) 770 4332,

Back To Top