By Robert Lucke
Whether you call it Iceberg Lake, Rotary Pond, Normandy Coulee Pond, or JayCee Pond, big changes have been made in the area of Beaver Creek Park just east of the Taylor Road.
"I think the county was able to salvage 11,900 cubic yards of crushed gravel, which the tax payers will be happy to hear," Kent Gilge said, Havre fish biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "The cost per yard to recover that gravel was really inexpensive."
The pond was filled with gravel from a nearby stockpile during a flood in early June of 1998.
"The county was able to recover the size of the pond again which has been reduced by probably one third in size," Gilge continued.
That was just the start. County workers aided by Gilge's plan, remade most of the area.
"The eastern shore line was reworked in order to improve access and the county reworked and shaped an eroding bank immediately below the arched bridge," Gilge added. "We put the stream channel back into the old stream bed through the trees and the old gravel pit area was topsoiled and leveled out and reseeded."
One of the big pluses of the project was to get the creek back in the trees to the west of the pond.
"We got the creek back into the trees and it is just gorgeous running through the aspen," Gilge commented.
In addition that made for better fish access to the upper creek because in the last few years at times the creek had run underground denying fish the ability to go upstream from the pond. Better access will make for better fishing upstream according to Gilge.
"And upstream we made ourselves a pond to hold fish," Gilge said. "Probably there is a two pound brookie in there right now."
As far as aesthetics go, the biggest news of all is a new waterfall going into the pond.
"We had to put a check in to stop erosion. It is basically a rock control structure," Gilge continued. "It was put in so that the creek can maintain itself and it formed a three or four foot high waterfall which when it gets grassed in will be really pretty."
"There was a hump in the old creek channel which was removed so that now you can drive right to the waterfall and there will be several areas for new camp sites in the trees there," Gilge said. "Give it two or three years and it will be really nice."
Not only that but the beaver have not been the only things working hard at Bear Paw Lake these days.
"We requested and got handicapped outhouses at Bear Paw Lake. I think we replaced two outhouses with the precast toilets," Gilge said. "And around the lake there was additional gravelling done in the campgrounds."
Making the handicapped fishing area better is a high FWP priority.
"There are plans to modify and improve the facilities at the handicapped fishing access," Gilge commented. "This is probably several years out but replacing sidewalks that are too narrow and cracked will be done and modifying and improving the fishing pier. And we will put a covered shelter behind the fish pier much like the one below Fresno."