The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation recently awarded University of Montana students a $15,000 grant to work with Five Valleys Land Trust to restore a 290-acre property at the confluence of Rock Creek and the Clark Fork River.
College of Forestry and Conservation students in UM’s Wildland Restoration Program will use the funds to plan and implement restoration at the site, which has been degraded by ranching and development.
Students will conduct an ecological assessment of the property’s grassland, riparian and aquatic habitats; initiate restoration activities such as planting native seeds, removing non-native vegetation and planting riparian vegetation to reduce erosion; and train citizen scientists to monitor the project’s success.
“The students wrote this grant proposal as their final project for a course in which they apply ecological knowledge to real-world challenges in ecological restoration,” said Cara Nelson, director of the UM Wildland Restoration Program. “All students in the restoration major are required to engage in professional activities before receiving their degrees, which makes them highly competitive in the job market and increases their confidence early in their careers as restoration scientists and practitioners.”
The grant will pay for supplies and help cover salaries for the students managing the restoration project. UM and Five Valleys Land Trust are contributing in-kind donations and matching funds.
The project, which began with assessment activities during the summer and will continue into late autumn next year, is a partnership between UM, Five Valleys Land Trust and the Missoula Conservation District.