Welcome to Spring! A few showers (and flurries) this week mean summer is not far away.
The staff here at the Madison River Foundation has been working furiously this winter to prepare for spring and summer activities. We will be working with BLM and others in planting willows and river birch along the Madison soon (tentative date of May 15). We will call on our volunteers to help us so be on the lookout for our email. If you are not on our volunteer list, please call or email us and we will make sure you are added to this list.
Go forth & conserve,
Madison River Status
This last week has been beautiful and sunny here in Ennis. Temperatures even ranged into the 60s! Spring is definitely in the air and snow pack levels look good. It is really shaping up to be a great summer! January March
AmeriCorps ServeMontana Symposium
Montana: A Symphony of Service
March 8th-March 10th
Helena, MT Carroll College
I recently attended the AmeriCorps ServeMontana Symposium at Carroll College in Helena. The symposium was a three day event packed full of service opportunities, training and great guest speakers. First Lady Lisa Bullock kicked off the event with a welcome speech, and Bruce Day the Executive Director of the Helena Food Share prepared us all for a service project. Over 250 AmeriCorps members participated in the Doorsteps to Backpack service project, a city wide food drive. Members collected kid-friendly food items from the doorsteps of approximately 15,000 homes in Helena and East Helena to benefit the Helena Food Share’s Kid Packs. Participants were also stationed at all grocery stores to collect items.
The second day of the symposium featured a welcome from Governor Steve Bullock, and Dan Ritter Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Community Service. The group then split up for selected breakout sessions. Breakout sessions included a variation of community outreach, service evaluations, and leadership development trainings. The group came back together for a talk on Tribal Relations in Montana through the Governor’s Director of Indian Affairs. There was also time for regional networking between AmeriCorps members. Shannon Stober delivered the Symposium Keynote at the end of the evening. Shannon is the founder of Verve Exchange which delivers high-impact learning experiences for diverse customers, she is also a two term AmeriCorps VISTA Alumni.
The final morning concluded with a speech from Allan R. Scott, Helena Symphony Orchestra Maestro. The group then participated in a whole community disaster simulation with Megan Helton, disaster specialist.The service symposium was a great chance to network with other AmeriCorps members and unite under the theme of service for Montana.
Granger Ranch & Madison River Foundation Collaboration
by Jeff Laszlo
In 2009, The Madison River Foundation approached me with an interesting idea. Executive Director Richard Lessner and Board Member Jeff Montag asked if Granger Ranches would consider installing an electric fence along the Madison River, provided the Foundation supplied materials and volunteer labor. Their objective was to protect the river and reduce conflicts caused by livestock. At this time I was not involved with The Foundation but was already several years into working with other partners to restore the headwaters of O’Dell Creek and its associated wetlands.
The area proposed for the Madison River Foundation fencing project stretches roughly from Ennis to Varney Bridge (7 Miles) and encompasses numerous braids of O’Dell Creek. It is annually subject to the famous Madison Gorge which can wreak havoc on anything in its path. Consequently our river property has never been fenced to contain cattle in summer. During peak flows the river serves as a natural barrier to livestock but as the season progresses and water volume drops, cattle would often cross, wandering onto county roads, nearby private property and even into public fishing accesses.
The concept of using temporary electric fence throughout our river bottom property had the potential to improve habitat and ranch operations but I had some concerns. Wouldn’t deer run through the fence and make it ineffective? Could such a labor intensive effort be sustained? Would we be reducing impacts to the river and concentrating them on O’Dell Creek? To answer these questions, I suggested The Foundation engage Todd Graham of Ranch Advisory Partners whose expertise includes grazing management and the use of temporary fencing. Along with assistance from The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a plan was conceived that had two objectives. These were to protect the riparian areas of the Madison and to better utilize adjacent forage that was used unevenly, sometimes excessively.