PRAIRIE DOG CREEK WATERSHED
Prairie Dog Creek watershed consists of approximately 231,000 acres (360 square miles) located in central Sheridan County, in north-central Wyoming. Prairie Dog Creek originates in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains near Moncreiffe Ridge, northwest of Story, Wyoming. This ridge is located in the southwest corner of the watershed, less than a ½ mile above the headwaters of Prairie Dog Creek. The stream flows east until the confluence with Jenks Creek, where it turns north until it enters the Tongue River near the Montana border.
Major tributaries to Prairie Dog Creek include Meade, Jenks, SR, Jim, Arkansas, Coutant, Wildcat, and Dutch Creeks. Most of these streams are ephemeral throughout much of their length. Stream flow in Jenks and Meade Creek is augmented during the irrigation season by trans-basin diversions from the Piney Creek drainage. Jenks Creek was likely a steep ephemeral draw until the late 1800’s, at which time trans-basin diversions were constructed to divert water from the North and South Forks of Piney Creek through three tunnels located on the northern side of the present community of Story. The ridge through which the tunnels were constructed is known as Tunnel Hill. During the recreational season, as much as 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) can be diverted from the Piney Creek drainage into Prairie Dog Creek.
Prairie Dog Creek Watershed Plan
Prairie Dog Creek is currently listed on the 303(d) list of waterbodies requiring TMDLs for E. coli bacteria impairments to recreational use and for Manganese impairments for aesthetic drinking water use (discoloration taste, etc). The Manganese impairments are attributed to natural sources and are not addressed in planning and improvement efforts.
The SCCD and watershed residents worked with WDEQ to finalize the Prairie Dog Creek Watershed Plan, which was approved in February 2011 and updated in 2016. Action items in the plan address implementation of the plan, water quality improvement, and awareness and education.
Activities that have been completed include interim water quality monitoring, development and distribution of an annual watershed newsletter, development and update of a Progress Register to document completed projects, and installation of improvement projects.
The Prairie Dog Creek Watershed plan includes a commitment to continue monitoring to evaluate changes in water quality over time and make adjustments to load and load reduction estimates as additional data are collected.
Reports and Plans*
*appendices are available by request