Upcoming events

Cottonwood Planting                                                                                                     April 1 (Wednesday) and April 7 (Tuesday)  (This event has been completed and was a great success! Thanks to those of you who volunteered!) 

Missori River

Campers enjoy a pristine outpost for the evening beneath a mature cottonwood. Did you know the youngest naturally-grown cottonwoods in the Monument are 50 years old? (Photo Mike Penfold.)

April marks the start of our action-packed 2015 field season with our third annual cottonwood planting on the Wild and Scenic Missouri! This year we’re planting more trees at more sites than ever before. You can be part of this expanding collaborative restoration effort to replace the Missouri’s aging stands of cottonwoods on one or both days. So, come plant some trees, meet some new folks, and chat with us first-hand about all the other great riparian forest restoration work the Friends, BLM, and Missouri River Conservation Districts Council are doing as part of the Missouri Breaks Riparian Group.

Road Obliteration with MT Conservation Corps                                       Sunday, June 28

Help us rehabilitate and reseed important upland habitat for grouse, deer, pronghorn, and a variety of grassland-nesting songbirds by obliterating roads that are designated “closed” in the Monument Resource Management plan.

Hiking the Breaks – June 27 and August 22-23

This summer, we’re thrilled to co-sponsor two of Montana Wilderness Association’s “Wilderness Walks” led by three of our members. This is a superb opportunity to hike with a group and explore the Breaks by foot. Keep an eye on MWA’s Wilderness Walks page for information about how to register and for their 2015 summer walks booklet – available in mid-April.

Hike 1 – Exploring the Missouri Breaks,  Saturday, June 27                                                            Led by Mary Frieze and Clint Loomis

Preregister for this walk on the Island Range Chapter map at

Location: Meet at the Lewistown, MT Albertson’s parking lot at 9:30a.m., 6 miles (strenuous).

Come with us to explore the canyons and vistas of the Missouri Breaks Monument. We’ll enter the Monument above the McClelland/Stafford Ferry. We’ll park our cars to explore the folds of a canyon on the south side of the Missouri River. This is a walk of moderate difficulty. We’ll then take the Ferry across the Missouri River to access the trailhead of BLM’s first designated hiking trail in the Monument. This trail follows the route of an historic military road to a spectacular overlook above the River. This will be a strenuous hike. We’ll picnic in a shady grove, or on a hillside overlook.


Imagine yourself here – a vantage overlooking the Missouri River (Photo Mary Frieze.)

Hike 2 – Nez Perce Trail and Cow Creek, Saturday Aug. 22 – Sunday, Aug. 23                         Led by Tim Faber

Preregister for this walk on the Island Range Chapter map at

Location: Meet in Big Sandy at the Big Sandy City Park (rest stop) at 9a.m., 5-6 miles (moderate difficulty).

Enjoy a scenic drive along the Bears Paw Mountains on the historic Cow Island Trail where bullwhackers freighted during the Steamboat Era on the Missouri River. We’ll visit old homesteads recently renovated by the Bureau of Land Management before car camping overlooking the Missouri. Sunday we’ll hike to Cow Island Landing where Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce skirmished with troops before their flight to the Bears Paw Battlefield. Last year we saw elk from our camp, bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, and short-horned lizards.

Salt Cedar Eradication with MT Conservation Corps                                                 Saturday, September 19


An MCC adult crew pauses for a photo near Hole-in-the-Wall on their search for invasive salt cedar. You can join the crew for a day this summer as part of a collaborative salt cedar seek and destroy mission. (Photo Friends.)

Join us in the Breaks this summer to explore the Judith River and Arrow Creek on foot, get some exercise, and perfect your GPS skills. We can use all the help we can get as we battle a priority noxious weed in Montana. Salt cedar is abundant across the southwest United States and has shown up on the Missouri River with increasing frequency in recent years. It replaces desirable native species like cottonwoods and willows, sucks up more water than native plants, makes soils saltier, displaces birds and other wildlife, clogs irrigation canals, and increases fire hazard. We’re trying to get ahead of the problem by conducting on-foot surveys, marking salt cedar locations with GPS units, and digging up the invaders. This year marks our second year of salt cedar work with Montana Conservation Corps, so come join the crew!

Wood Bottom Rehab on Nat’l Public Lands Day                                                                Saturday, September 26 

The cleanup group!

A group of volunteers gathers for a Nat’l Public Lands Day event in 2014. Please join us this year at Wood Bottom in celebration of the spectacular public lands that belong to all Americans. (Photo Friends.)

Wood Bottom Recreation Area is a minimally-developed site on the Missouri that’s accessible by road and boat. It flooded in 2014, resulting in fencing damage and weed infestation. BLM is leading the charge to rehab this site via removing damaged fencing, pulling weeds, and generally spiffing it up. In exchange for your help, the Friends will provide a delicious lunch to say thank you on this national day of service!

Other Related Volunteer Opportunities (contacts below)  

Help BLM with James Kipp Recreation Area CleanupMay 13 – 14

James Kipp Recreation Area near Fred Robinson Bridge and the C.M. Russell Nat’l Wildlife Refuge is a popular site used by hunters, anglers, floaters, and campers. After the floods of 2011 and 2014, many of the fire rings at multiple campsites were covered with sediment. BLM needs help to remove and reset these fire rings in addition to some work cleaning up and restoring campsites, roads, and parking areas within the recreation area. They’ll provide lunch! Contact Mark Schaefer, BLM Supervisory Outdoor Recreation Planner at 406-622-4000 to sign up.

Canoe the Marias River with local 5th graders, May 14 – 15 and/or canoe the Missouri Breaks with local 7th graders, Sept. 14 – 17

Fort Benton school teachers are looking for volunteers to help with overnight and multi-night spring and fall canoe trips for local 5th and 7th grade students on the Marias and Missouri Rivers. This will involve canoeing,  camping,  and helping teach topics related to geology, ecology, area history, Native American culture, paleontology, etc. A background check is required. Please contact Renee McDonald at Fort Benton School to sign up:

Put on your “Citizen Scientist” cap and help collect data in BLM Wilderness Study Areas in the Missouri Breaks with the University of Montana’s Wilderness Institute

Keep an eye on this “Citizen Science Opportunities on BLM Wilderness Study Areas” webpage for finalized trip dates in the Missouri Breaks. As a citizen scientist, you’ll backpack through a remote area while helping trip leaders and other volunteers generate a set of data on trail conditions, wildlife sign, developments, and much more. This year, we’re thrilled that this work is taking place in some of the Missouri Breaks Monument’s Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) such as Dog Creek WSA.

So, please sign up for a great guided backpacking trip with delicious group dinners, an opportunity to learn new skills involving mapping and data collection, and the chance to contribute to the first baseline inventory of the “wildness” of Missouri Breaks country. Contact Lisa Gerloff, Citizen Science Program Coordinator at 406-243-5346 or for more information or to register.