Rocky Creek Restoration Project
Just over 213 years ago on July 13, 1806 William Clark, Sacagawea, and portions of the Corps of Discovery stood overlooking the eastern reaches of the Gallatin Valley. Spreading below them was the confluence of Kelly, Bear, and Rocky Creeks as they merged to form what we now know as the East Gallatin River. That view has changed considerably since then. They saw alders, cottonwoods, willows, and various other deciduous tree species carpeting the valley floor – beaver dams pooled water which made walking across this soggy landscape a significant challenge. Today, after hundreds of years of human alteration we now see eroding streambanks, dried up floodplain wetlands and a lack of streamside vegetation. GVLT is partnering with landowners on conserved properties to restore some of these streams back to their healthy origins.
The Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) in partnership with Rocky Creek Farm/Gallatin Valley Botanical, Scott Gillilan, and with funding from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) are in the midst of an exciting streambank and floodplain enhancement project to restore the historical function of Rocky Creek. When completed, the restored streambank will promote the expansion of woody deciduous vegetation that is native to the area. This vegetation will protect the stream from erosion, excess sediment and nutrient deposition. Less sediment in the stream means clearer and cooler water for fish. More streamside vegetation means improved habitat for wildlife.
On that day back in 1806, Clark took a moment to journal at camp; “emence quantities of beaver… and their dams very much impeed the navigation”. Despite lesser quantities, beavers still remain on this landscape today. Through this project, GVLT and partners are helping ensure the beavers will remain and flourish. Whether it be the beavers, birds, fish, or farmers – all will reap the benefits of a healthier stream system for generations to come!