MISSOULA – University of Montana ecosystem science and restoration students and Trout Unlimited’s Clark Fork River project managers invite the public to volunteer with them on Earth Day. Volunteers will help revegetate the area surrounding two newly installed fish screens on Rattlesnake Creek beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 22. Community members of all ages are welcome.
Students and volunteers will plant native riparian plants and install exclosure fencing to deter grazing mammals. Fish screens prevent migratory trout from being captured in irrigation ditches as they move between the Clark Fork River and their spawning grounds.
“This is a great opportunity to restore natural communities on disturbed land and give back to the natural areas we appreciate and rely on around us,” said UM student Colton Kyro, one of the project organizers. A tour of the irrigation infrastructure and nearby side channel trout-spawning habitat will precede the planting activity.
During replanting efforts, Paul Parson and Rob Roberts, project managers at Trout Unlimited, will discuss how fish passage barriers, entrainment, habitat degradation, humans and climate change vulnerability cause declines in native trout populations. Parson and Roberts also will show how to identify impaired water bodies and share steps that can be taken to return them to a state that mimics a natural, free-flowing waterway.
Revegetation of this area will protect the stream bank, promote native plant growth, add shade to Rattlesnake Creek, create riparian habitat and protect the fish screens from damage.
Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at Tom Green Memorial Park at the end of Wylie Street. Organizers recommend participants bring a water bottle and weather-appropriate outdoor clothing, including work gloves and boots, as well as any necessary snacks. A barbecue lunch and volunteer celebration will follow.
To participate, volunteers should RSVP by calling or texting Kyro at 206-601-8066 or emailing email@example.com no later than Thursday, April 20.