Improving habitat one seedling at a time

5/8/2016 Bozeman Daily Chronicle Guest Column by Todd Graham

One thousand six hundred and sixty-six willows, dogwood, serviceberry, and other water-loving plants found their way into the Gallatin and Paradise Valleys last week.

Right now, they don’t look like much — a bunch of sticks wedged into the rich spring mud, but in a few years they will become an emerald oasis along some of our region’s most important river corridors – the East Gallatin, Gallatin, Madison, and Yellowstone.

In partnership with more than a dozen private landowners and volunteers, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) helped lead efforts to plant these native shrubs along waterways, and they will grow alongside existing agricultural operations.

In the coming years, this modest investment of time and twigs will grow into a benefit that impacts us all in significant ways.

These plants will provide cover for big game and nesting habitat for birds, while helping to elevate the water table and minimize the impacts of changing precipitation regimes. Leafy vegetation will provide shade for the fishery and can help improve spawning grounds for native trout. Below ground, intricate root systems will develop to help hold the river banks in place, reducing the impacts of flooding, sedimentation, and erosion that can damage our water quality for fish, wildlife, and people.

View the column here