Notes from Afar

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Gleaned by Butch Clark, co-editor


The Montana Riparian & Wetland Review, Spring 1998, (Newsletter of the Montana Riparian and Wetland Association) presented some studies and reports relevant to current and upcoming activity in Colorado.

Best Management Practices
A subcommittee of the Montana Watershed Coordination Council has worked for three years to prepare a set of grazing best management practices (BMP’s) for rangeland resource users. The next step is to prepare a “user friendly” grazing BMP booklet with photographs, definitions, and explanation to provide ranchers with management information. This booklet is expected to be available by the send of summer. Contact Krista Lee-Campbell at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (            406-444-4253       or klee@mt.gov) for copies.

Grazing and Water Quality
In collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Riparian and Wetland Research Program at the University of Montana is in the second year of studying riparian grazing and its relationships to water quality in two watersheds, one in eastern and one in western Montana. The purpose is to relate commonly used indicators for monitoring grazing to water quality, riparian conditions, and stream functions. If the four grazing indicators (stubble height, woody browse, key area utilization, and streambank alteration) can be correlated with riparian condition and water quality, the study is intended to determine what indicators are the best predictors and what particular utilization levels for rangeland can meet state water quality standards and sustain or improve riparian conditions and stream functions.

Parameters monitored for water quality are temperature, dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, flow, total phosphates, nitrates + nitrites, turbidity, pH, and total suspended sediment. Parameters monitored for stream channel conditions are channel cross section, width/depth ratios, fine sediment, bank stability, bank accessibility to livestock, and undercut banks. The parameters monitored for the condition of riparian vegetation are canopy cover, species cover and community composition, and woody species regeneration. The results are intended to provide private, state, and federal land managers with better means of monitoring grazing in riparian areas and to protect and improve water quality. Contacts are Donna DeFrancesco (            406-243-4813      ) and Amy Chadwick (            406-243-4490      ) at the University of Montana.

Migratory Birds and Riparian Habitat
In July the CRA members met with members of the New Mexico Riparian Council in Alamosa. The Council’s newsletter, The Riparian Zone, reported the release of a study draft for review entitled Sustaining And Enhancing Riparian Migratory Bird Habitat On The Upper San Pedro River. It was prepared by a team from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Montreal, Canada. The purpose of the study is to improve management and protection of riparian habitat for migratory birds. Also outlined in the draft report are conservation measures and water management strategies. Contact the Commission at             514.350.4300      .