For a person with even an ounce of wanderlust, the twists and turns of the coulees in the Missouri Breaks Monument can prove an irresistible temptation. Here, the opportunities to explore little-traversed bits of public land are nearly endless, and a closer look can reveal quite a bit about the character of this rugged landscape.
The Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) crew that spent all last week at Hole-in-the-Wall searching for salt cedar certainly experienced the Monument up-close. In addition to the few weeds they discovered, the crew spotted several lounging rattlesnakes, uncovered one mule deer shed, and marveled at sweeping walls of white sandstone.
The Friends hired MCC for six weeks of pulling salt cedar, or tamarisk, from the river corridor and surrounding riparian habitat this summer. Salt cedar is an invasive, woody shrub that is gaining ground in the American West and threatening the health of native species, such as the plains cottonwood.
Foxtail sways in the breeze as the crew explores a coulee in search of salt cedar. (Photo Friends).
Upon discovering salt cedar, the crew dug them up and removed the crowns so they wouldn’t be able to sprout again. Luckily, the salt cedar infestation at Hole-in-the-Wall proved quite small, and the crew was able to scour much of the shoreline and coulee bottoms to ensure there was no trace of the weed.
Rachael, an MCC crew member, surveys a small salt cedar shrub before attacking it with a combination shovel/pick hand tool. (Photo Friends).
Austin Taperman marks the location of a salt cedar specimen in a GPS. This helps the BLM track salt cedar infestations from year-to-year. (Photo Friends).
There are four weeks of weed pulling work left this summer, and you’re invited to join us for one or more days in order to help MCC crews combat salt cedar. The work will take place on July 22 and July 23 at Judith Landing and August 11 at James Kipp Recreation Area.
Sign up today to volunteer with these hardworking young folks to make a difference on your public lands. (Photo Friends).
Please contact Sara Meloy at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. We hope to see you out there on your public lands!