UM Students Protect Trees From Beavers in Montana’s Newest State Park

April 23, 2018

MISSOULA – Students in the Ecosystem Science and Restoration program at the University of Montana invite the public to help protect planted trees from beaver damage at Milltown State Park from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Volunteers will install protectors around tree saplings that are at risk of being chewed by beavers.

Beavers have been called nature’s “ecosystem engineers” because their dam building and other activities add complexity and flood control to river ecosystems. These activities can be desirable to both people and the environment, but beaver activity also can inhibit restoration work if they destroy saplings before they become established.

In addition to installing protectors, volunteers will have opportunities to hike through Montana’s newest state park. They also will learn about the history of degradation at Milltown and techniques for restoration of river ecosystems.

Students and members of the public are encouraged to volunteer. Space is limited to 20 people. Interested participants should call Taylor Chenette at 415-272-4433 or email by Friday, April 27.

Volunteers should prepare for a two-mile, semi-steep hike to the site and back, and bring water, work gloves, a mug and waterproof boots. Coffee will be provided by Black Coffee Roasting Company, and a hot lunch will be provided by Chipotle.

UM faculty and students have been working with Geum Environmental Consulting, a local consulting firm who has led vegetation restoration efforts at Milltown since 2010. The partnership has helped students apply skills they gain in the classroom in a practical way.

“The opportunity to apply my knowledge to improve restoration at Milltown has been extremely gratifying,” UM student Dylan Branscum said


Contact: Cara Nelson, UM associate professor of restoration ecology, 406-243-6066,; Taylor Chenette, student coordinator, UM Ecosystem Science and Restoration Program, 415-272-4433,