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Friday, April 14th

Plant Materials Centers Provide Vegetative Solutions

Larry Holzworth, USDA-NRCS
Dwight Tober, USDA-NRCS

Current land management practices are highly complex involving holistic approaches to achieve land health and environmental quality. Plants can be used to address today’s environmental problems. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides conservation planning, program administration, and technology transfer to private landowners. Plant Material Centers (PMCs), together with a multitude of partners, develop plant materials and provide technology regarding their use. To date, there are 484 cultivars and natural germplasms of improved plants that have been released by PMCs. A large number of these releases have been successfully incorporated into the commercial seed and plant production industry. Over 114 million dollars in revenue was generated in 1999 from commercial seed sales of material that originated from PMC releases. In 2000, more than 550 studies related to plant selection, propagation, and establishment are being conducted at the 26 PMCs nationwide, including Alaska and Hawaii. More than 90% of the plants being tested are native species. Current technology development provides information for many environmental concerns, such as revegetation of disturbed areas and critical habitats; buffer strips; soil bioengineering; waste management; wetland and riparian area enhancement; windbreaks; prairie ecosystem restoration; and noxious-invasive plant control. Native American tribes are assisted with the identification of culturally significant plants for use in traditional medicine and religious and spiritual ceremonies. In 1999, PMCs released 22 new grass, grass-like, forb, and shrub cultivars/germplasms including the technology for their use on disturbed lands of the United States and potential use in other areas of the world.

Bridger Plant Materials Center

RR2, Box 1189

Bridger, MT 59014


Exotic and Native Species Management

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Upper Clark Fork (above Milltown Reservoir)

The mainstem fishery is well below its potential. It's overriding problem is the multiple impacts of mining-everything from instream contamination to streambanks destabilized by their inability to support adequate riparian vegetation. The impacts of metals pollution are exacerbated by dewatering, streambank grazing, channelization and excess nutrient loading. While some of the tributaries support good populations of westslope cutthroat and bull trout, the mainstem population is almost entirely metal-tolerant brown trout.

Volunteer Monitoring - Empowering Citizens

Pete Schade, Montana Watercourse

Recent public concern and involvement in water quality and watershed health issues has prompted the growth of numerous community watershed groups across Montana. The Montana Volunteer Water Monitoring Project responds to requests for information and training in water quality monitoring. Operating under the umbrella of the Montana Watercourse, an established statewide organization with a ten year history of adult and youth water resource education, the Montana Volunteer Water Monitoring Project was created to foster and facilitate state-wide volunteer water monitoring activities. It is the only state-wide monitoring network operating in Montana.

The Project works with local groups (Conservation Districts, community watershed groups, local and state agencies) to promote stewardship of water resources by local citizens through educational water quality workshops. Targeting a diverse citizenry, the Project teaches water science to non-scientists (ranchers, teachers, landowners, students...) offering simple testing methods and equipment that provide volunteers with the skills and tools needed to obtain valuable information about their local surface waters.

Basic education-level training involves two days of learning about watershed health and water quality from Watercourse personnel and local experts. Volunteers conduct field data collection of physical, biological and chemical parameters. At the conclusion of the workshop, volunteers are supplied with water quality testing equipment for gathering data on their local streams. Follow-up workshops provide further support and training.