Restoration work

Three buses took the 160 people who attended this week's symposium at Fairmont Hot Springs to the Berkeley Pit and different restoration sites along the Clark Fork River. Here, attendees look at the restoration work occurring on Dry Cottonwood Creek Ranch near Deer Lodge.

Restoration work in Montana is creating job growth. Statistics show an eight percent rise in such employment in Montana in 2013. 

That's according to Cara Nelson, associate professor of restoration ecology at the University of Montana-Missoula, who talked about the growth of restoration work during her presentation at the three-day restoration conference that ended Friday at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

An estimated 160 people attended the conference, called the "Symposium on Riparian Restoration in a Contaminated Environment: Lessons Learned and Challenges in Moving Forward."

Nelson, who is also the director of the Ecological Restoration Program at UM, said UM's ecological restoration program is seeing growth as well.

The symposium included lectures from mostly scientists who discussed everything from how to talk to ranchers about restoring their land along the river to studies of osprey nesting on the Clark Fork.

Bill Callaghan, board member for the Butte Natural Resource Damage Restoration Council, said he grew up in Anaconda in the 1960s and remembers when the Clark Fork River "ran red."

"We made every effort and took this into our own hands and cleaned it up," Callaghan told the Standard. "It's really nice to see 50 years later how far we've come."

Rayelynn Connole, program director for the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program, said listening to all the lectures about the work that's been done so far has led her to think about challenges Silver Bow Creek and the Clark Fork River face in the future.

"We need to start thinking about the future, things like urban encroachment and storm water runoff," Connole told the Standard.

In addition to three days worth of presentations, buses took the attendees to the Berkeley Pit; an area on the Clark Fork River where restoration work is complete; and Dry Cottonwood Creek Ranch, where restoration work is ongoing.

Erick Greene, a biological science professor from the University of Montana-Missoula, said that certain areas of Silver Bow Creek had zero species of birds breeding before remediation and restoration work began.

"Now there's about 100," Greene told the audience.

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Environmental and Natural Resources Reporter for the Montana Standard.

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