Bitterrooters get riprap wrist slaps 

Two Ravalli County landowners are being held accountable for creating problems with riprap in the Bitterroot River and along Lost Horse Creek. Valley officials have filed a complaint against Ron Garlick for work he did on Lost Horse Creek; landowner David Bush, meanwhile, is the subject of a multi-agency investigation into work he did in the Bitterroot River. Both landowners allegedly exceeded the scope of permits that were issued to them.

In the Bush case, officials from the Bitterroot Conservation District, Ravalli County, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality will meet this week to discuss their investigation of the work Bush did in the river south of Bell Crossing near Victor.

Bush built a home directly on the riverbank on a bluff that was high enough to be technically out of the flood plain although the homesite is surrounded by it. The home is on the curve of the river above an eroding bank. Bush obtained permits to riprap the riverbank, but complaints allege he far exceeded the permit by going into the river, dredging the channel to create a dike and directing the river’s flow away from the bank and the new house.

In Garlick’s case, an official complaint was filed against him in Ravalli County Justice Court by County Attorney George Corn on behalf of the Bitterroot Conservation District board of supervisors. The complaint alleges Garlick was ordered to do remediation work on a riprap project he did on the banks of Lost Horse Creek below his house. Garlick rerouted the creek, straightening it and moving it away from his home. When the work was investigated, Garlick was ordered to restore the natural curve of the creek and to return the waterway to its original width. According to the complaint, Garlick did some work but not to the satisfaction of the Bitterroot Conservation District, which had issued the original work permit.

Garlick could be fined up to $500 or ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500 for each day of violation, and could also be ordered to return the creek to its natural state. He must appear in court on June 14 to respond to the charges.

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