Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Benson Creek
Beaverhead County, Montana

Status = Approved

Description stream, 13 miles long, heads on the NW side of Benson Peak in the Ruby Range at 45° 07’12”N, 112° 28’02”W, flows generally NW through Hoffman Gulch, then W to enter Stodden Slough, 3.4 mi. NE of Dillon
Location 45°14’59”N, 112°35’12”W
PLSS Location Townships 7 and 8 South, Ranges 7 and 8 West
Proposal new associative name for an unnamed feature
Proponent Ron and Marilyn Benson; Dillon, MT
Administrative area None
Previous BGN Action None
See also 39702
Local Usage None found
Published None found
This 13-mile-long stream is proposed to be named Benson Creek in association with Benson Peak (BGN 2008) and nearby Benson Ranch. Benson Peak was named in honor of Arnold G. Benson (1907-1990), a longtime area rancher, teacher, and active member of the community. Benson Ranch has appeared on USGS topographic maps since 1961.

The stream in question heads on the western slope of Benson Peak, then flows north and northwest through Hoffman Gulch, to end at Dillon Canal approximately three miles northeast of the community of Dillon. The proponent describes the stream as being dry most of the time, and photographs that she submitted clearly show a dry streambed, although she adds, "When there are flash-flood summer storms the excessive rainfall has flowed all the way to Stodden Slough."

In addition to the unnamed stream in question, there is another stream nearby named Hoffman Creek. It heads 5.3 miles to the northeast of the source of the stream proposed to be named Benson Creek, then flows generally parallel to the unnamed stream. Its mouth is 3.5 miles due east of the mouth of Hoffman Gulch. Hoffman Creek does not flow through Hoffman Gulch.

The Beaverhead County Commissioners recommend approval of the name. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks did not oppose it, as they have no fisheries records for the stream.

The Montana State Names Authority (SNA) and the Montana Water Rights Bureau initially opposed the proposal (on September 4, 2013), citing the following language from Title 85, Chapter 2, Section 131 of the Montana Code Annotated: "All applications for the change of name of any watercourse or natural source of water supply, including natural streams, dry coulees, springs, lakes, rivers, or creeks which lie wholly within the limits of one county must be made to the district court of the county where the watercourse or other natural source of water supply, the name of which is proposed to be changed, or some part thereof is situated." The Water Rights Bureau viewed Hoffman Gulch as the name of the watercourse, including the stream, and they viewed the proposal as a change to the watercourse name. Hoffman Gulch is listed as a water source in various water rights records and the SNA believed that this and the inclusion of the term ‘dry coulees’ in the law make the law apply to this name proposal.

The Board on Geographic Names rejected the Benson Creek proposal on April 30, 2014, based on the SNA recommendation.

The proponents then applied to the 5th District Court in Dillon to designate the stream as Benson Creek, and the court granted the request on August 27, 2015. The SNA and the Water Rights bureau withdrew their opposition to the name on September 21, 2015, and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names reconsidered their decision on October 8, 2015 and accepted the proposal.

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Comments Received by the Montana Geographic Names Advisor
Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Support (Tuesday, September 15, 2015)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, October 8, 2015
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded to approve the new name.

13 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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