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Montana Watershed Coordination Council | P.O. Box 1416 Helena, MT 59624 | info@mtwatersheds.orgClick Here to Sign-up for our Watershed Newsletter

Capacity Support: Upland and Forest Health Restoration in the Big Hole

Property tour with JM Peck in Trapper Creek: JM showing conifer encroachment into a riparian zone

Community members in the Big Hole River watershed know there are clear links between upland ecological health and the watershed’s ability to retain snowpack, decrease erosion, and improve water quality and quantity. In 2019 the Big Hole Watershed Committee (BHWC) applied for a Watershed Fund Capacity Support grant to develop an upland and forest health restoration work program. Watershed Fund Capacity Support helped BHWC develop projects that will conserve, protect, and enhance a resilient, high-functioning forest system. The program has also strengthened relationships with both the community and other watershed partners, including Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and The Nature Conservancy that will foster future projects. 

  • 30 stakeholders engaged, including conservation districts, nonprofits, state and federal government agencies, community members, and K-12 students. 
  • 3 conservation practices implemented
    • Forest stand improvement 
    • In-channel habitat improvements
    • Wildlife management enhancements
  • 5 acres of forest, grasslands, and wetlands made more resilient
Future impacts on the Big Hole Watershed and its communities:

With the addition of the upland and forest health restoration work program, the BHWC can now aid in the re-establishment of forest structure and function, conserve and restore critical habitats, and support the protection of communities in the Big Hole watershed from uncharacteristically severe fires. This program will ultimately help the overall Big Hole watershed function by expanding restoration and conservation goals to improve water quality and quantity by implementing forestry projects to decrease water temperature,  increase stream flows, improve valuable habitat and promote safer communities.

BHWC hosts a dinner for landowners about conifer encroachment
Impact of the Watershed Fund:
  • Helped us cultivate relationships with funders
  • More project and program funding available
  • Greater public awareness of resource concerns and conservation
  • Increased ability to complete projects that improve watershed resources
  • Building long-term relationships and trust within our community
  • Greater ability to collaborate, and reduced competition for resources
  • Stakeholder and community support for our work strengthened
  • Meaningful step(s) made towards a healthy and productive watershed