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MIM Monitoring

October 12, 2009

I found the following announcement from Bob Clark, my Missoula counterpart, in this morning’s batch of emails:

“To celebrate national public lands day, Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited partnered to improve habitat around Fish Creek in Western Montana. Improvements included planting over 1000 willows, lodgepole pines, wild roses and other vegetation to fix unstable soils and shade the riparian area.”

I envy Bob’s being able to pitch in on this kind of restoration project.  Here in the Black Hills there aren’t many willows left on the forest’s streams — too many cattle, for too many decades have browsed willows out of the riparian areas.  That’s too bad because the  historic photos of  Black Hills  show healthy, shaded streams, supporting the local wildlife and aquatic communities. 

What’s happened to Black Hill’s streams and meadows as a result of the forest-wide federal grazing program has become an increasing concern (and sore-spot for some sportsmen) over the years.  Last fall the Sierra Club’s Black Hills Group, the Norbeck Society, and the Great Plains Native Plant Society formed a citizens’ program to monitor stream channels and riparian vegetation on selected streams in each of the District’s on the Black Hills National Forest.  The groups brought in Ervin Cowley from Montana, who had developed the MIM (multiple indicator monitoring) protocol for the Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service, to teach it to the project’s volunteers.

During September and October we hit the streams, laid out the transects, and gathered data first year’s data.

Flynn Creek MIM - starting search for greenline

Flynn Creek MIM - starting search for green line Slate Creek - MIM monitoring team

 Since the project’s goal is to gather stream and vegetation data to use in evaluating whether these riparian areas meet or are trending toward meeting the USFS Forest Plan standards and guidelines.  It’s expected that at least 3-4 years of  stream data will be needed in order to begin interpretive work. 

Slate Creek - MIM monitoring team

Slate Creek - MIM monitoring team

The team will be going out again next year and the Project will welcome more volunteers.  Ideally, the project would like to extend MIM monitoring to additional streams in the Black Hills.  If you’d be interested in helping out, contact either Beth Burkhart at (605) 673-3159 [evenings] or me at (605) 342-2244.

— Jim Margadant

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 12, 2009 1:02 pm

    As I recall, the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone improved the water quality and increased trout production, because the wolves prevented the elk from overbrowing the willows. Obviously a good, hungry wolf pack would help thin the cattle herds.

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