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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Ditch or Canal

Provisional State Rank: SU

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General Description
This artificial stream channel system is found statewide where diversions and side canals were dug to transfer water from perennially or intermittently natural stream channels. These generally have low to moderate gradient, but some ditches in the transitional area from the mountains to the valleys can have a steep gradient.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Fish Community: The fish species found in these channels can mimic the community found in the adjacent stream or river where the flows are originating, especially where sufficient screening is not in place.

This system is found statewide but is most numerous in the foothills and valleys ecoregion where dryland agricultural areas and irrigated areas are upland of large riparian river bottoms.

Spatial Pattern

Large ditches and canals can trap and strand thousands of fish of numerous species, especially in the spring high flow and spawning periods. Screening diversions to canals and ditches can reduce the negative impact on the fish community of the adjacent stream or river.

  • Classification and Map Identifiers

    1000: Manmade Ditch or Canal

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Citation for data on this website:
Ditch or Canal — Manmade Ditch or Canal.  Montana Field Guide.  Retrieved on , from