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Butte Field Office Partners with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
for River Cleanup

photo and story by Renee Johnson, Montana State Office

BLM forester and volunteers consult maps during the project 

MaryLou Zimmerman goes over maps with volunteers near the Nez Perce Gulch area along the Big Hole River during the first Wise River Stewardship Project volunteer Day on Father's Day, June 20.

Twenty-three volunteers organized by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the BLM’s Butte Field Office participated in the first Wise River Stewardship Project Volunteer Day on Father’s Day, June 20. Dick Tally, RMEF Volunteer Coordinator for the Butte-Silver Bow Chapter, established the event for Father’s Day to encourage father-son camaraderie in the spectacular Big Hole River corridor.

The RMEF and the Butte Field Office used this event to familiarize community members with the partnership and newly established Stewardship Agreement between RMEF and the BLM. They also discussed long-term objectives in managing the wildlife habitat and forest health in the Big Hole watershed, and engaged the help of folks to monitor areas both before and after vegetation treatments to ensure invasions of noxious weeds or other undesirable species are nipped in the bud. It’s the goal of both the RMEF and BLM to tie the volunteers into this landscape where everyone can see and participate in the long-term management of the resources there.

After a week of heavy rain and dreary weather, blue skies and sunshine lit the landscape as BLM employees conducted an orientation in the parking lot of the Blue Moon Saloon at Divide. Wildlife biologist Sarah LaMarr wowed the group with an overview of the objectives of the project, a history on the development of the proposal, the importance of habitat in the area, and restoration opportunities.

Lacy Decker, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, handed out weed identification pamphlets supplemented with live examples of what the volunteers could expect to find in their inventory efforts.

With Forester Marylou Zimmerman’s assistance, all three staff members oriented the volunteers with inventory and GPS protocols in anticipation of a successful day documenting weed locations and densities.  Renee Johnson, Assistant Field Manager, Renewable Resources conducted a tailgate safety session to ensure everyone had a safe and successful experience.  Maintenance worker Pete Armstrong assisted with shuttling volunteers, answering questions, and distributing garbage bags throughout the day.

The day ended with a barbecue at the Divide Campground on the Big Hole River, hosted by RMEF, with chef extraordinaire Al Christophersen, RMEF Habitat Stewardship Services Coordinator, grilling burgers and hot dogs with all the condiments.  Christophersen thanked the volunteers for their “commitment to wildlife and their habitat, and support of stewardship projects.”

Volunteers provided 190 hours of service work valued at almost $4,000, and accomplished 300 acres of both pre- and post-treatment weed inventory, along with hand pruning and garbage collection.

RMEF Volunteer Coordinator Dick Tally summarized the event: “As a group, we enjoyed the day, we all learned some good things, saw some beautiful country and went home feeling good about what we accomplished….We’re looking forward to many more years working with you and your teams. Things like this do not happen without the efforts of many hands and the leadership of Spartans.”

In 2010, the partnership between BLM and RMEF forged under the Stewardship Agreement expects to restore 240 acres of sagebrush-grassland, treat 25 acres of weeds, thin Douglas fir forested landscapes and reduce fuels while utilizing biomass on over 200 acres, and restoring aspen stands along about one mile.



Last updated: 06-28-2012