This web page provides a single point of access to data and publications that the Montana State Library archives for the Yellowstone River Corridor, and is intended to provide a clearinghouse for information associated with the river. The data and publications were developed by federal and state agencies primarily through contracted services.
The most recent work was conducted as part of the Yellowstone River Corridor Comprehensive Study, also known as the Cumulative Effects Assessment. This interdisciplinary study was mandated by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 1999, section 431. Please refer to the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council web site for more information about the project, partners, and cumulative effects assessment study results.
The project area extends from the Yellowstone National Park boundary near Gardiner, Montana to the Missouri River confluence in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Primary sponsors of the work include the State of Montana, the Governor’s Upper Yellowstone River Task Force, and the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District.
Yellowstone River maps and data online:
Map and air photo data created for the Yellowstone River may be viewed by anyone with the Yellowstone River Map Viewer, or loaded as a GIS Service by users of mapping software such as ArcMap and ArcGIS Explorer. These let you pan and zoom to any location along the river and choose which data to view. The data layers on the left side of the map viewer are categorized into groups of data — please open the groups to see the layers for various time periods that are available.
Downloadable GIS Data
These are files that may be used with GIS software to create maps or analyze features of the Yellowstone River corridor.
Air Photos and Map Data Collected for the Cumulative Effects Assessment
High-Resolution Orthophotography (aerial photos, MrSID format)
- 2011 Stillwater, Yellowstone, Treasure, Rosebud, Custer, Prairie, Dawson, Richland, Williams, and McKenzie Counties. These files are quite large (2-15 Gb). Please contact us if you are unable to download these files and need us to send them to you.
- 2007 Sweet Grass, Treasure, Rosebud, Custer, Prairie, Richland, and McKenzie Counties
- 2004 Stillwater, Yellowstone (west), Yellowstone (east), and Dawson Counties
- 2001 Color Infrared (All Counties except Park)
- 1999 Park County – north half – south half
- Elevation Data (DEMs and TINs)
- Planimetric Feature Data (Contours, Roads, Buildings, Hydro-Features, etc., – ESRI personal geodatabase format)
- High-Resolution Orthophotography (aerial photos, MrSID format)
- Orthophotos of Montana from the National Agricultural Imagery Program
Physical Feature Inventories document development of flood and erosion control structures over time within the Yellowstone River corridor, and also contain features such as diversion structures and irrigation return flow points.
- 1999 Channel Modification Inventory (Park County only)
- 2001 Rapid Aerial Assessment (all Yellowstone River counties)
- Historic Physical Feature Inventories
Floodplain Analysis Products are a by-product of the Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Assessment. They provide information about historic channel change and risk of flooding and erosion within the Yellowstone River corridor. They should be considered as an initial point of reference for more detailed project- or site-specific studies. Their development was sponsored by Yellowstone River Conservation District Council to inform land use decisions within the Yellowstone River floodplain.
- Channel Migration Zone GIS Data – ESRI personal geodatabase format
- 100-year GIS Inundation Boundary – ESRI personal geodatabase format
- Bank and Flowline GIS Data for 1950, 1976, 1995, 2001 – ESRI personal geodatabase format
- Riparian Vegetation for 1950, 1976, and 2001 – ESRI personal geodatabase format
Historic Aerial Photography includes aerial photographs and aerial photo mosaics from which other baseline datasets, such as banklines and flowlines are extracted. The historic bankline and flowline datasets are then used to develop indicators of change within the Yellowstone River stream corridor. They are a foundational element of the Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Assessment because they allow detection of change within the stream corridor over the last 55+ years.
- 1950 Black and White Photos (All Counties except Park)
- 1954 Black and White Photos (Park County)
- 1973 Black and White Photos (Park County)
- 1976 Black and White Photos (All Counties except Park, Richland, and McKenzie)
- 1977 Color Photos (Glendive to ND state line)
- 1997 Flood, Black and White Photos (Reed Point to Custer)
- 1990s (mostly 1996) USGS Black and White Digital Orthophoto Quadrangles
National Wetlands Inventory
Data for the Yellowstone River Corridor region was added to the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) in 2010. Statewide NWI data and maps are available from the Montana Natural Heritage Program web site at http://mtnhp.org/nwi/NWI_Status_map.asp
Russian Olive Inventory
Produced by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, this GIS shapefile documents the distribution and extent of Russian Olive along the Yellowstone River main stem and major tributaries for purposes of education and control. The data were extracted from 2009 true color aerial photographs developed by the National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) using ArcGIS 9.2 and the Feature Analyst extension. It includes approximately 500,000 individually attributed polygons. The data is available here.
Yellowstone River Land Use Mapping and Analysis.
This data consists of land use polygons digitized from 1948-1950's, 1976-1977, 1999-2001, and 2012 aerial orthophotographs. The data is available at here.
Reports, Maps, and Technical Information:
These are finished work products in PDF format resulting from the Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Assessment, or previous interdisciplinary environmental analyses.
- Yellowstone Impact Study (1974-1976) in 11 volumes
- Yellowstone River Pipeline Risk Assessment and Floodplain Reclamation Planning Project (2012). This report, along with the accompanying addendum, documents the results of an investigation into the potential for fluvial geomorphic processes (natural erosion) to affect petroleum pipelines within the Yellowstone River Channel Migration Zone. The addendum clarifies and revises the risk assessment ratings presented in the original report based on supplemental information provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) and pipeline operators subsequent to final delivery of the report.
Streamflow Statistics for Unregulated and Regulated Conditions
The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, calculated streamflow statistics for unregulated and regulated conditions for the Yellowstone, Tongue, and Powder Rivers for the 1928–2002 study period. Unregulated streamflow represents flow conditions that might have occurred during the 1928–2002 study period if there had been no water-resources development in the Yellowstone River Basin. Regulated streamflow represents estimates of flow conditions during the 1928–2002 study period if the level of water-resources development existing in 2002 was in place during the entire study period.
- Streamflow Statistics for Unregulated and Regulated Conditions
- Yellowstone River Land Use Mapping and Analysis. The land use mapping effort consisted of digitizing land use polygons using 1948-1950's, 1976-1977, 1999-2001, and 2012 aerial imagery in a GIS environment. The goal of the delineation was to capture areas of similar land use as they appeared on the aerial imagery, while maintaining a consistent scale. Four tiers of nested attributes were developed for the mapping effort. The study area is defined by the GIS-modeled 100-year inundation boundary, plus a 500-meter buffer. In total, over 700 square miles of area were mapped for each suite of imagery. See listing under Downloadable GIS Data for the geodatabase associated with this report.
- Summary of Studies Supporting Cumulative Effects Analysis of Upper Yellowstone River Channel Modifications. This was performed by the USGS, Fort Collins Science Center and was sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- Geomorphic Reconnaissance and GIS Development for the Yellowstone River (2004). Draft report and GIS datasets
- Yellowstone River Channel Migration Zone Maps. Yellowstone River CMZ maps by county.
- Yellowstone River Channel Migration Zone Final Report. Report that accompanies the CMZ maps.
- Upper Yellowstone River Physical Features inventory (1998). An early inventory of a portion of the Yellowstone River in Park County. The inventory was conducted by volunteers and produced by the NRCS.
- Geomorphic Parameters and GIS Development. These two reports document the results of a GIS analysis performed in support of the geomorphic scope of work associated with the Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Assessment. The work consists of a GIS-based summary of geomorphic planform parameters of the Yellowstone River corridor from Gardiner to the Missouri River confluence. Primary reach breaks and reach classification data reflect those presented in the Geomorphic Reconnaissance and GIS Development for the Yellowstone River.
- Yellowstone River Human Impacts Timeline (2008). This documents the development of flooding and erosion control structures through time in the Yellowstone River corridor. Determination of the approximate construction dates for features such as dikes, levees, riprap, and transportation infrastructure encroachment on the floodplain was accomplished using Historic Aerial Photography.
- Yellowstone River Historic Events Timeline (2008). This provides tabulated summaries of historic occurrences in the river corridor related to bridge construction, irrigation structures, ice jam formation, natural grade control removal, and flooding. The information is intended to support the development of a timeline that describes the progressive construction of numerous types of physical features within the river corridor (see Yellowstone River Human Impacts Timeline), along with timing of natural events such as floods and ice jams.
- Yellowstone River Geomorphic Analysis for Yellowstone County (2000). Prepared for the Yellowstone Conservation District by Womack and Associates, Inc. and Aquoneering, Inc., this report assesses the effects of erosion and flood control structures on the Yellowstone River’s geomorphology from the Carbon County line to the eastern edge of the Billings East USGS Quadrangle. Principal sources of data include historic aerial photography (1957 and 1999) and survey data obtained by the report authors (1999) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (1968).
- Inventory of Important Biological Resources for the Upper Yellowstone River Watershed (2001)
- Ecologically Significant Wetlands in the upper Yellowstone River Watershed (2001)
- Yellowstone River Riparian Vegetation Mapping Final Report (2008). This document reports on changes in riparian vegetation between 1950 and 2001.
- Avian Habitat Relationships. The main goal of this review and assessment is to identify how bird survey data collected along the Yellowstone River can best be used to inform future Yellowstone River Conservation District Council Cumulative Effects analyses. These analyses focus on describing the potential impacts of land use management along the Yellowstone River on avian communities.
- Factors Influencing Riparian Breeding Communities along the Middle and Lower Yellowstone River (2009) investigates factors influencing community and the distribution and abundance of breeding birds along a 450-mile segment of the Yellowstone river in central and eastern Montana
- Russian Olive Distribution Mapping for the Yellowstone River and Tributaries. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) used remote sensing to examine the extent of Russian olive distribution along the Yellowstone Watershed. The GIS dataset identifies the location of Russian olive populations within the Yellowstone Watershed; Gallatin, Park, Sweet Grass, Stillwater, Carbon, Yellowstone, Big Horn, Treasure, Rosebud, Custer, Powder River, Prairie, Dawson, Wibaux, and Richland Counties. The dataset is available for download under Russian Olive Inventory listed above.
- Yellowstone River Cultural Inventory (2006). This documents the variety and intensity of different perspectives and values held by people who share the Yellowstone River. The results of 313 interviews with landowners, resource managers, industry representatives and civic officials are documented and summarized.