<<Back to Spring 2011 Steward

Multi-Agency Integrated Restoration Strategy 
A Partnership in Conservation

story by Joshua Jackson
Missoula Field Office

members of the multi-agency group 

The MA-Blackfoot group looks at projects in the Arrastra Creek area.
BLM photo 

The Multiple Agency-Blackfoot group came together in 2009 in order to plan, analyze, and implement natural resource projects in the Blackfoot River basin of northwestern Montana. Working collaboratively, the group strives to maximize positive results of forest treatments across ownership boundaries, improving forest health and wildlife habitat while decreasing the risk of catastrophic fire in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). 

The MA-Blackfoot group has identified a large portion of the upper Blackfoot River basin as its primary area of interest. Three smaller focus areas include Arrastra Creek, which is predominately managed by the BLM; Cooper Lake, which predominately managed by the Forest Service; and Blackfoot Community Conservation Area (BCCA) Core, which is managed by the Blackfoot Challenge, a group comprised of private landowners and local, state and federal land managers that has been working for 15 years to coordinate conservation efforts in the Blackfoot watershed.
The BLM Missoula Field Office and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has completed a watershed-level assessment for lands within the Arrasta Creek area. Based on recommendations from this assessment, the group identified projects that will be implemented over the next 10 years.
A few of these projects are already underway. The BLM has started thinning treatments in the Arrastra Creek area. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) has completed salvage logging and is planning fuels reduction work with the BLM in the northwest corner of the Arrastra Creek focus area. The DNRC, Blackfoot Challenge, and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are working with the Montana State University Extension Stewardship Workshops program to involve local landowners in Patterson Prairie, Arrastra Creek, and Cooper Lake. Because of these efforts, landowners are applying for grants from the BLM Community Assistance Program and the NRCS Western Competitive Grants Program to reduce hazardous fuels on their lands. 
As the BLM Missoula Field Office implements ecosystem restoration and fuels projects in the upper Blackfoot River basin, it will continue work with its MA-Blackfoot partners to ensure that maximum benefits are achieved across the landscapes and ownership boundaries.
The MA-Blackfoot group includes state and federal agencies and special interest groups including the BLM, Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and the Blackfoot Challenge.