While a Montana spring weather warning forced us to delay this event, 25 hearty public land owners from BHA, Bighorn River Alliance and staff from both the National Park Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks weren't going to let a little rain on the forecast get them down again! On May 6, to belatedly celebrate Earth Day, a bunch of folks showed up at Three Mile Access near St. Xavier, ready to make the fishing and hunting the Bighorn River a little safer!
Crews split up and immediately got to work on the two big projects that we wanted to complete: pulling unnecessary barbed wire fencing that was falling into the river, and constructing a new buck and rail fence that would serve as a more stable and less dangerous boundary to protect a sheer bank from heavy use and erosion.
Our barbed wire teams found plenty of downed and unnecessary fencing throughout our 1/2 mile section of river bank. While this area had previously been privately owned and used for grazing cattle, now these fences serve no purpose and were frequently damaging to good duck dogs and expensive waders alike. With the help of a little heavy machinery, crews were able to remove the barbed wire from its posts and then coil the barbed wire to be safely disposed of.
At the same time, NPS staff and volunteers helped construct a new buck and rail fence along a short, steep section of bank to protect hikers, hunters and anglers from falling in and loosening this already soft bank. The new fencing is easier on the eyes and much less dangerous for recreators.
As we pulled fence and installed new fence, our volunteers found old metal scrap, discarded trash to remove. Among the refuse was some historic farming equipment that was moved to a nearby homestead site to be displayed and help remember the past of the beautiful Bighorn River.
By the middle of the afternoon, we had removed over 1,300 lbs of metal from the banks of the Bighorn to be recycled by FWP staff back in Billings. We're proud to have left the river cleaner and safer, and gotten to spend a good day with great people! Thanks to all our volunteers, our partners at Bighorn River Alliance and the fantastic NPS and FWP staff for helping put this project together.
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Images provided by Montana Organizer Veronica Corbett & Bighorn River Alliance staff.