Plan B is a must. Or so a local non-profit is figuring out when it comes to their volunteer events on the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Friends volunteers in the first boat from Coal Banks Landing. (Photo Friends.)
The Friends of the Missouri Breaks and river rangers with the Bureau of Land Management had calendared their annual cleanup of the 49-mile White Cliffs section of the Missouri River for Thursday, June 20 – the morning after the biggest, baddest thunderstorm of the year moved across north-central Montana.
Trip leaders thought the massive storm might put Plan B into play, as the roads down to the launch points were under an inch of water the night of the storm. But by the next morning, the roads had dried up enough to allow the stalwart volunteers to maneuver their vehicles through the remaining puddles.
What prompted Plan B was a faulty wheel on a BLM boat trailer. As rangers slowed to take the turnoff down to Coal Banks Landing, the left back wheel blasted off the trailer, smoking. Luckily no one was hurt, and the boat was fine too.
But with one boat unavailable, rangers formulated that Plan B. Rather than two boats taking volunteers down to Hole in the Wall campground (river mile 64), the one available boat would shuttle two groups of volunteers down.
Friends volunteer Kirby Hoon (below) and BLM river ranger Sean Reynolds snatch tires from the banks of the Missouri River. (Photo Friends.)
It meant more trips for BLM, but it also meant more opportunities to pull junk from the Missouri River. In one spot alone, the second group of volunteers picked up several tires, a fence post and an old bed rail. And the extra time at Hole in the Wall campground allowed volunteers to get a lot of work done there – cleaning and painting the fire rings, weed-wacking, and cleaning and stocking the pit toilets.
Friends volunteers and BLM staff at Hole in the Wall campground. BLM boated volunteers from Coal Banks and from Judith Landing, and we met in the middle for lunch. (Photo Friends.)
All of this was done before lunch, which the Friends provided for the 15 volunteers, who turned out from Fort Benton, Havre, Lewistown, and Great Falls, and from as far away as Choteau to lend a hand.
“We couldn’t do this without the Friends,” said BLM Supervisory Outdoor Recreation Planner Mark Schaefer of the BLM-Friends river cleanup, which is now an annual event on the Friends’ growing volunteer calendar.
Already this year, Friends volunteers have planted cottonwoods, spruced up campgrounds and cleaned up the White Cliffs section of the river, contributing more than $6,000 in volunteer labor to the Monument. And the season is just getting started.
Tires and trash weren’t the only things we found — check out this beaver footprint! (Photo Friends.)
“We are so grateful to all the volunteers who have turned out so far this year and committed their precious time and energy to our public lands,” said Friends executive director Beth Kampschror. “This work is even more meaningful now that BLM’s budgets are slimming down – we are doing all we can to help BLM get the job done on the Monument.”
Volunteers walking up the boat ramp at the end of the long day out. Thank you, volunteers, for committing your time to the Monument! (Photo Friends.)
If you’re interested in volunteering with the Friends this season, please join the group’s mailing list at www.missouribreaks.org, or by texting the phrase MISSOURIBREAKS to the number 22828 on your cell phone.
The Friends of the Missouri Breaks is a 501(c)(3) organization that protects and preserves the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument by educating the public, advocating for responsible access and environmentally responsible uses, and supporting groups and agencies that protect and restore the Monument. We’re on the web at missouribreaks.org, as well as at facebook.com/friendsofthemissouribreaks.