When the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at the mouth of what is now Arrow Creek they were welcomed by the rotting remains of over 100 bison, lending to the creek’s original name of Slaughter River. Modern day explorers arriving at Slaughter River Campground, opposite Arrow Creek’s confluence with the Missouri River, will be pleased to find over 60 newly planted cottonwood trees instead of decaying ungulates.
Nine volunteers, from across the state, came to Slaughter River Campground this past Monday for the final planting of the year. For a few their love of cottonwoods even overcame their desire to watch the Giants opening day game. (Photo Brian Woolf, BLM)
Nine volunteers from the Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument, with help from the Bureau of Land Management, spent this past Monday planting, watering and fencing the young cottonwood saplings. The volunteers were primarily based locally, from Havre and Lewistown, although some volunteers traveled several hours to the planting, coming from Billings and Cut Bank. Together with over 80 trees planted earlier this spring at Eagle Creek Campground, further upriver, the Friends have planted nearly 150 young cottonwoods within the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument this year.
Across from the beautiful white cliff that brings many people to Slaughter River Campground now sit young cottonwoods under the watchful eye of an older generation of trees. (Photo Sean Reynolds, BLM)
The planting of these young cottonwoods is just the beginning of a long process to ensure their survival and ability to repopulate the monument. This summer the Friends will have a 6 person crew within the Breaks from the Montana Conservation Corps. From June to September the crew will water and monitor the trees planted this year, along with another 150 trees from last year’s plantings, for any diseases or other hardships. When the crew is not directly working with the young trees they will be working to remove invasive plant species that compete with young cottonwoods and constructing fences to help alleviate the pressures of grazing on riparian zones during certain times of the year.
Despite cold temperatures and strong winds, over 80 trees were planted during two days of hard work at Eagle Creek Campground. (Photo Brian Woolf, BLM)
In total, volunteers from the Friends donated nearly 150 hours of their time this spring at the two cottonwood planting events. Their hard work, and that of all members of the Friends, is truly the driving force in making the Friends mission of protecting and restoring the monument a reality.
Young cottonwoods, like these planted by volunteers last year, are now found at multiple sites throughout the monument. (Photo Friends).
If you would like to know more about our planting project, or are interested in being involved with Friends’ events in the future, please keep an eye on our events web page or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Joe Offer, Stewardship