In October 2019, nearly 1,400 trees and shrubs were planted along Cow Creek, a tributary of the Whitefish River, to reduce sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus pollution in the creek and the Whitefish River. Grazing by livestock and past channelization of the creek are the principal causes of pollution. Restoration work included fencing along the creek and providing reinforced creek crossings for livestock.
Over time, the new trees and shrubs along the creek will help reduce nutrients and sediments from entering the creek and provide shade – reducing water temperatures in the summer, which can reach 75 F.
The Flathead Conservation District worked with the landowners, River Design Group, and numerous partners to submit a grant to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to fund the restoration work. Restoration Ecologist Franz Ingelfinger, with MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, helped implement the project.
The Flathead Conservation District and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks are partners in the River Steward Program, formed by the R2L Initiative, together with the Flathead Lakers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Soil & Water Conservation Districts of MT to help landowners restore riparian buffers and improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.