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September 14

River to Lake Initiative quarterly meeting and restoration work party.  River to Lake partners held their quarterly meeting on Wednesday, September 14 in Kalispell to plan and evaluate conservation and restoration projects and identify funding sources for projects.  In the afternoon, initiative partners helped MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Natural Resources Conservation Service protect a riparian area along the Flathead River at the Diamond B Ranch on the Flathead River.

Partners place chicken wire on birch tree branches to protect from beavers

Large cottonwoods line part of the river banks, but these are being brought down by beavers faster than the cottonwoods can regenerate.  Restoration work started by placing various protective fences around the trees to protect the trees from beavers and deer.  Future restoration will include planting new trees and shrubs in other areas along the river banks.

Why cottonwoods along rivers are important: Cottonwoods and other riparian trees and shrubs are an important components of healthy river system.  They:

  • protect river banks from erosion with their dense root systems
  • slow down and soak up flood waters
  • capture and store sediment and nutrients – enriching floodplain soils and protecting water quality
  • provide diverse wildlife habitat for bald eagles, herons, migratory birds and cavity-nesters, such as woodpeckers, owls, and some song birds
  • provide cool, shaded water for fish and other aquatic organisms
  • add large woody debris to the waterway – providing cover for fish
  • provide habitat for terrestrial insects, which feed fish

Restoration work party photos

Chicken wire placed around large trees to prevent beaver damage

Fence exclosures placed to help new trees and shrubs regenerate along river banks

River to Lake Initiative Restoration Work Party

6-foot tall fencing exclosure close up

For more information contact Constanza von der Pahlen, Critical Lands Program Director, Flathead Lakers, at or call (406) 883-1341.

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