Floating down the Bitterroot you may notice some areas lush with healthy vegetation while others may be a little lacking. That is something that the Bitter Root Water Forum plans to address at the new John Owen (Stevensville Bridge) Fishing Access Site on the north side of Stevensville.
“There are a good number of mature trees in the area but not younger trees in the understory that we like to see in an area like this,” said Bitter Root Water Forum’s Restoration Coordinator, Andrea Price. “Many of the big cottonwoods have aged out and will need to be removed for safety.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) acquired the area that has long been used as a fishing access site this summer and has plans to further develop the area in the near future. Knowing the importance of a healthy, diverse vegetation along the river, the revegetation and protection of the area has been planned as an aspect of FWP’s improvements.
The Bitter Root Water Forum, a local nonprofit focused on watershed conservation, has worked on many similar projects throughout the Valley and were excited to partner with FWP. “Having healthy vegetation along our rivers and streams has many benefits for water quality,” says Price. Native trees and shrubs help protect streambanks from erosion, buffer stream from pollutants, provide shade – reducing water temperatures, slows water flows and replenishing groundwater, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
The project will involve two planting areas that will be densely planted with native trees and shrubs. Fencing will protect the plants from wildlife and redirect foot traffic while the plants get established. The goal of this project is to help protect the site for future generations while maintaining river access for all to enjoy.
Plans are to break ground in the next month and the Water Forum will have two volunteer planting days on October 14th and 15th. For more information or if you would like to help visit their website at brwaterforum.org, find them on Facebook, or call 406-375-2272.