Riparian Restoration on the Missouri River – Benefits for Livestock and Wildlife
When willing landowners combine forces with available funding programs, amazing things can happen for the vegetation and wildlife along the Missouri River. This was the theme of the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council’s annual River Rendezvous hosted by the Chouteau County Conservation District on June 9th. Nearly 50 people were treated to a 15 mile boat ride downriver to view first-hand several riparian restoration efforts. The Bailey Ranch was the first stop, where Rob Hazlewood described the partnerships that led to a fenced riparian corridor and water gap funded by Northwestern Energy. Rachel Frost described the Ranching for Rivers program through the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana that also provides cost-share to landowners for installing fencing and off-site water developments to protect and enhance riparian zones. The importance of managed grazing in the riparian areas rather than complete exclusion of livestock was stressed throughout the tour.
Additional stops provided Joe Offer, Stewardship Director with the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument and Sean Reynolds with the BLM an opportunity to describe several successful cottonwood plantings conducted by the group and supported through Montana Conservation Corp volunteer teams. Anna Noson with the University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab spoke of the songbird monitoring they are conducting in partnership with Northwestern Energy along the Missouri River and the importance of riparian restoration to the populations of these birds.
The boat tour wrapped up with a savory lunch at Woods Bottom with FWP employees providing a close-up look at some fish in the Missouri River. An hors d’ oeuvres social sponsored by the Montana Land Reliance provided the perfect ending as folks gathered on the patio of the Grand Union hotel to summarize the events of the day. A special thanks to BLM, MT FWP, and Northwestern Energy for providing the boats for the tour. Additional support for the event was provided by Montana Land Reliance, Northwestern Energy, Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument, Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, Chouteau County Conservation District, Missouri River Conservation Districts Council, and Ranchlands Wildlife Consulting.