On Monday, April 16th, the crew from Stream Works Inc., a Lincoln-based stream restoration construction group broke ground on what will become a new, 1.2 acre wetland.
The project, a major win for local birds and wildlife, was made possible through funding from the Montana Aquatic Resource Service (MARS). Last year’s work to stabilize erosion along upper sections of the creek was aided by the unexpected natural (and free!) regrowth of riparian vegetation that occurred due to the temporary removal of grazing from the property. Between the decreased pressures on the creek and the construction of floodplain benches complete with sod mats and native, woody shrubs, the stream has slowed and is now following a healthy, meandering path.
And this came at a good time. With this winter’s above-average snowfall and last week’s warm spell, the creek is raging. Nate Kopp, Project Manager for PPLT, has been keeping an eye on the high water. “This spring is really giving the creek a test, but so far it’s doing what it is supposed to do and our plantings, although underwater, are hanging on,” he reported.
Over the winter, Kopp worked with MARS, who helped fund the restoration work upstream, to complete the necessary permitting in order that construction could start as soon as the ground thawed. At an already wider, flatter location along the Creek, the team is excavating down to three incremental depths to create a terraced, almost bowl shaped wetland area. Though water is not yet flowing from the creek into the lowered section, it has already begun to seep up naturally in the wetlands area. After the heavy-duty work is complete, the site will be planted with a variety of riparian plants. Nature will do the rest!
Sevenmile is already home to an abundance of bird species. The local Audubon chapter has conducted extensive bird surveys, and at least one eager PPLT board member erected a Kestrel box last fall to attract the charismatic, bird-of-prey. The addition of the wetlands will increase both the size and quality of riparian habitat for local birds, mammals and fish.
At this point, Sevenmile is closed to the public as construction is underway and until a management plan and parking area are developed. For an in-depth look at the project, go to our Peaks to Creek Initiative page and to see more of what the Audubon has been finding at Sevenmile, go to the E-bird site.
There has been a surprising amount of birds spotted on our Sevenmile Creek property, 112 species to be exact. The Western Meadowlark, Mountain Bluebird, American Pipit, Yellow Warbler, and Long-billed Curlew have all been seen in the last month which is a good ecological indicator. Our friend, Shane Sater, has been surveying the birds and updating the Sevenmile Creek eBird site for over a year with photos and audio. Take a look!