This was an eventful week for Education & Community Outreach. Five groups visited the ranch over the course of six days, in addition to the continuing activities of the summer internship program.
The ECO interns and field staff dedicated their week to the ongoing eradication of campion in the North Center Pivot and hand weeded kochia on the front side of the ranch. They also swung axes in the Davis Creek drainage for the first time this summer in an effort to reduce the mistletoe population. MPG acquired the Davis Creek land from Plum Creek and it saw intensive logging activity. Last year’s crew made solid progress in that work, but it is a large project and will require continual effort throughout the summer.
The Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup on the south face of Mt. Baldy.
On Tuesday, seven members of the Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup toured MPG. They were interested in learning more about how MPG manages the land, and the various restoration and research projects that are underway on the ranch. The group’s mission is to promote knowledge and stewardship of local wildlife and habitat within the communities and public lands of the Ninemile, Huson, and Alberton region.
On Wednesday, Missoula Parks and Recreation brought a senior van tour to MPG. They were a delightful group who seemed to thoroughly enjoy their visit to the ranch. They marveled at the views and expressed support for the conservation mission of the ranch.
A few of the visiting seniors were from Germany and offered an interesting comparison of land management practices and recreational use in their native land. They spoke enthusiastically about the ease of public access in Montana for activities such as hunting and fishing.
On Thursday, Missoula Parks and Recreation brought a fly fishing summer camp for a day of fishing on the Bitterroot River in MPG’s Northern Floodplain. Guides from the Missoulian Angler instructed the group of twelve children and two staff. The children gave it their all, but in the end the osprey just down river proved to be a bit more successful.
A camper works on his cast while another untangles his line.
On Friday, the Girl Scouts brought a small group to MPG to explore the ranch. In the morning, the group started with a tour up Mt. Baldy to take in the views and the wildflowers, and then spent the afternoon on a hike in the Northern Floodplain.
On Saturday, a group from the Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI) visited the ranch as a part of their Wild Rockies Summer Semester. The students and instructors spend two months in the field studying private, federal, and state resource management and Native American ecological perspectives. They came to MPG to learn about the restoration work taking place on the ranch and to contribute to a service learning project.
The group arrived Saturday afternoon and camped until Monday morning, when they headed to the the Flathead Reservation to meet with tribal officials and discuss management practices on the reservation. They set up camp in the Northern Floodplain at a site established for use by summer groups. WRFI is a field-based academic program run out of Missoula. Students are from colleges and universities around the country and get course credit for their time. Students balance their time between backpacking in remote areas, visiting management agencies, and extensive course work.
WRFI’s Executive Director, Laurie Schlueb joined the group and worked alongside students and instructors in the record heat. Ultimately, despite the best efforts of all, the houndstongue proved too plentiful to completely eradicate. Another group will have to finish WRFI’s heroic weeding effort. The line of fence posts, however, are now completely gone. They will no longer dot the spine of the ridge. All told, WRFI removed approximately 1.28 miles of fence posts and cleared 7.43 acres of weeds. The day concluded with a well earned swim in the river.
The blue line indicates the line of fence posts removed, and the green line indicates the area of weeds cleared.
Joshua graduated from the University of Montana, Missoula, in 2009 with an M.A. in Intercultural Youth and Family Development. Joshua has designed and implemented wilderness and experiential-based education programs for various agencies since 2001. He has worked in Missoula since 2005 predominately with disadvantaged populations providing challenging and empowering programming for youth and adults alike.
At MPG, Joshua works to coordinate with local agencies and school districts as well as the university to connect students and members of the community to MPG’s work. He also recruits and mobilizes volunteers to accomplish various projects for the ranch. In his free time, Joshua enjoys exploring Montana’s wild places. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoys any pursuit that keeps him connected to the natural world.