ECO Mid-Summer Update
Summer is a busy time for MPG Ranch, and the Education & Community Outreach programs are in full swing. There are a number of groups scheduled to visit throughout the summer and an internship program that started in the field this week. Over the next few months, I will attempt to share on a weekly basis who is visiting the ranch and what the interns are up to.
Philip and Jeff tell everyone how it is done. The summer interns are contributing to the eradication of a field of campion that has taken over the north center pivot.
This is the second summer of MPG’s summer internship program. The program runs with 2 field staff who supervise up to 6 high school aged interns. The entire crew lives on the ranch in a field camp Monday through Thursday for 8 weeks.
The goals of the program are to provide job training, education, and leadership development for the students involved. Students will contribute to various projects around the ranch from fence and weed removal to research projects. This summer students will take part in an ongoing bear research project. Students will assist with identifying rub trees and collecting hair and scat samples.
Missoula Parks and Recreation brought two summer camp groups to MPG this week. On Tuesday, their photo camp visited the ranch. They came in search of inspiring vistas, beautiful flowers, and animals that would remain still long enough to be captured on film by this young group of aspiring photographers. We toured the ranch from the heights of Mount Baldy to the river bottoms along the Bitterroot.
On Thursday, Parks and Rec. returned with an outdoor adventure camp. We took to the Northern Floodplain to track, explore and discover. With river levels up and water in some of the backchannels, the real adventure was navigating crossings to make the hike a loop and keeping everyone’s feet dry.
The group braved a cooler spring day, thoroughly exploring the floodplain. We encountered a grumpy red tailed hawk, found fresh raccoon tracks and a coyote skull. The area showed consistent use by deer, elk, and horses on their travels to the river for water.
This red tailed hawk was irritated to have the group so close. We gave it a wide berth and moved quickly from the area in case it had a nest nearby.
The group eats lunch on the beach.
The students found a coyote skull partially submerged in one of the river’s backchannels.
The raccoon tracks we found were so fresh we might have just missed the animal that made them.