Native Plant Restoration
RIPARIAN Woody Species Restoration
Woody riparian vegetation provides many benefits including wildlife forage, stream bank stabilization, shade, trout habitat, and cover for wildlife and livestock. Unfortunately, these species have been impacted on many ranch properties by historic overgrazing, changes in hydrology, altered disturbance regimes, farming and excessive wildlife browse.
This situation was particularly problematic on a client property along the Ruby River. Historic land management practices caused a severe decline in riparian species health and diversity. Subsequently, intense browse pressure from a booming whitetail deer population has prevented natural regeneration of many woody species. Therefore, Ranch Resources implemented a multi-year effort to plant and maintain thousands of cottonwood, aspen, chokecherry, buffaloberry, snowberry and currant plants. Fencing, irrigation, weed control and pest management have been required to insure survival. Project success has been a result of extensive planning, careful execution and regular follow-up. Work was completed by RRI staff and contractors.
Tobacco root Big game winter range restoration
Throughout much of the Tobacco Root mountains in Southwest Montana, Douglas-fir and Rocky Mountain juniper have gradually moved into riparian areas and highly productive sagebrush-grassland meadows. As these trees become more dominant they out-compete desirable plant communities, reducing the quality and quantity of habitat for many wildlife species and impacting local hydrology.
One of our clients recently acquired a beautiful Tobacco Root foothills ranch for its wildlife habitat and livestock forage values. Upon our initial assessment it was clear that conifer encroachment is having a measurable negative impact on plant production and diversity, particularly on critical mule deer, antelope and elk winter range. Therefore, we commenced a multi-year effort to remove conifers from riparian draws and other areas with high potential for increased forage production. Work is being completed by RRI staff and contract crews, and in coordination with MT FWP, the BLM and adjacent landowners.
Horse Creek Road RECLAMATION
Back in the day, most miners, loggers and ranchers took the shortest route possible to get their work done, often creating a network of roads and trails across the landscape. Today many landowners prefer less disturbance on their property and recognize roads can encourage noxious weeds and soil erosion.
Historic mining operations and off-road recreation created a maze of two-track roads on our client’s property in the Tobacco Root mountains. During spring run-off and rain events they were losing large amounts of soil down these roads, creating large gullies and dumping sediment in creeks. Therefore, Ranch Resources developed a road management plan to improve the critical access routes and eliminate any redundant or problematic roads. We used a special seed drill to break up compacted trails and successfully seed the abandoned roads to a diverse mix of native species.