Registration now open for the 2017 Musselshell Watershed Projects Tour!
Join MWCC for a tour of the Musselshell Watershed, where we are excited to highlight collaborative efforts and conservation projects past, present, and future, being implemented by the Musselshell Watershed Coalition and the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council. Between the massive flood in 2011, ongoing drought, and a record breaking wildfire this summer, the Musselshell Watershed has had no shortage of hurdles. However, from these challenges unlikely partnerships are being forged, and projects implemented to ensure the continued success of the river and the community and economies that rely on it. The tour features the people and projects that make this area resilient in the face of natural disasters and increased pressure on rural communities.
Registration includes evening receptions and the opportunity to stay at the Barnsion in Harlowton. The Barnsion offers shared rooms, onsite camping, or the the option to hook up trailers, and is a popular wedding destination for people across Montana and the United States. Registration covers the cost of staying at the Barnsion, but prepare to share a room! If you would like coordinate your own stay, MWCC has a block of rooms at the CountrySide Inn located in Harlowton. However, rooms reserved at the Inn will not be covered by the registration fee. Meals will be provided by MWCC, and includes catering from local establishments. If you have any questions or want more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regular registration- $60
MWCC Partner Registration-$40
MWCC Partners can apply for Professional Development Scholarships. Applications are due September 11th.
Monday, September 18th– Orientation to the Musselshell and an optional Lodgepole Complex fire update
The Lodgepole Complex Wildfire, at its peak, was larger than New York City, turned millions of dollars of fence to dust, destroyed 16 homes, wiped out grazing lands, and is now recorded as the third largest wildfire in Montana history. Because of the magnitude of this fire, MWCC will be offering an optional stop outside of Sand Springs to discuss the impacts, projects, and planning efforts needed to tackle the devastating effects of the fire.
10:30 a.m. Meet in Winnett (MWCC will be coordinating two state vehicles leaving very early in the moning from Helena)
From Winnett, attendees will travel to the Mosby Rest Area.
12:00 p.m. Drive to Nordahl Cemetery
The cemetery is on top of a hill, and provides a sweeping view of the landscape and the areas burned during the fire. Attendees will eat lunch and hear from speakers, including:
- Dean Rogge, impacted rancher and board member of the Garfield Conservation District
- Dusty Olson, District Administrator of the Garfield Conservation District
- Carie Hess, District Administrator for the Petroleum Conservation District
- Representative Bill Harris
- Reba Ahlgren, NRCS
- BLM Rep.
1:45 a.m. Arrive back at the Mosby Rest Area and head to Sand Springs
We will make a quick stop at the Sand Springs Store for some truly delicious milkshakes before heading to Harlowton.
Below is the Schedule for those that do not wish to stop at the Lodgepole Fire:
1:00 p.m. Leave for Harlowton
Tour attendees meet in Helena and leave for Harlowton
4:00 p.m. Roundhouse Site Reclamation in Harlowton
The Harlowton Milwaukee Roundhouse is a railway depot built in 1908, and for awhile was known as the longest stretch of electrified railroad in the United States. It is now classified as a superfund site. DEQ is working with the town of Harlowton to begin the process of reclamation and restoration on this site. Presentation by:
- Jason Seyler, MT DEQ Brownfields Program and Wetlands Program
5:30 p.m. Group dinner and presentations at the Barnsion in Harlowon
Dinner will be provided by the Harlowton FFA Club and will include the following presentations:
- Laura Nowlin, Musselshell Watershed Coalition- Collaboration on the Musselshell
- Karin Boyd, Applied Geomorphology, Inc- River Geomorphology and channel migration zone mapping
- Mike Riggles, MT FWP- Fisheries Projects (rock ramps, dam removal, fish bypass)
- Steve Tyrrel, Upper Musselshell CD and member of the Montana Invasive Species Council-Response to AIS threat in the Musselshell
Tuesday, September 19th– Ranch tour and the Middle Musselshell
9:30 a.m.- Ranch Tour with the Kilby Butte Colony and
Participants will learn about conservation projects the Colony has undertaken like cottonwood regeneration, removal of Russian Olive, solar pump installation, and irrigation projects. In 2015, the Kilby Butte Colony received the Cooperator of the Year award from the Lower Musselshell Conservation District, and we are thrilled they have invited us to tour their ranch. Presentations by:
- Joe Stahl, Ranch owner
- Austin Shero, NRCS
11:00 a.m. Ranching for Rivers
The Missouri River Conservation Districts Council (MRCDC) will talk about the Ranching for Rivers program, which began in collaboration with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana. The program helps ranchers develop riparian pastures through a cost share program, and is providing a new approach to managing livestock in riparian areas. Presentation by:
- Rachel Frost, Coordinator for the MRCDC
12:30pm- Lunch at the Musselshell School and Big Sky Watershed Corps Member presentation
BSWC members, Will Friedman and John Lange, working for the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, Missouri River Conservation Districts Council, and Petroleum Conservation District will present on the findings of their Canal Seepage Study.
*The Musselshell School was closed as an education institute over ten years ago, but was saved by a group of community leaders that came together to form the “Friends of the Musselshell School.” They have since turned it into a community center for the western part of the county.
2:30pm- Pedrazzi/ Newton Dam- fish passage alternatives
Stop includes discussion of ways the Musselshell River has changed since the 2011 flood, irrigation impacts, and a proposed dam project. Speakers include:
- Mike Ruggles, MT FWP
- Donna Pedrazzi, landowner and Administrator for the Lower Musselshell Conservation District
3:30 pm Roundup Historical Museum
This small but mighty museum provides important historical context for the region.
- Shirley Parrot, Musselshell Watershed Coalition board member, MACD committee member, and community leader will provide a guided tour of the museum, alongside other museum volunteers.
4:30pm Roundup Riverwalk, and Floodplain Reclamation and Riparian Restoration
The Roundup RiverWalk Heritage Trail was originally completed in 2007, but the 2011 flood necessitated re-design and extensive rebuilding. Since then, the town of Roundup has completed a variety of projects that better prepare the town for future floods and other natural disasters. Speakers include:
- Sandra Jones, Roundup Mayor
- Laura Nowlin, Musselshell Watershed Coalition
We will also explore a project that aims to clear and restore old mining structures in the floodplain area. Speakers include:
- Scott Graham, DEQ Abandoned Mine Lands Program
6:30pm- Dinner at the Barnsion or on your own
Wednesday, September 20th-Dams and water users associations
9:30 a.m. Egge Dam Removal Site and Turtle Study
The Rocky Mountain College has been conducting a turtle study in river across Montana, including the Musselshell. Speakers include:
- Professor Ostovar, Rocky Mountain College
- Students assisting the study
We will also learn more about the Egge Dam Removal Project and its impacts for irrigation and fish. Speakers include:
- Mike Ruggles, MT FWP
- Ross Ballard
11:00 a.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Deadman’s Basin Diversion Dam
The Deadman’s Diversion project is an important water distribution project that has major impacts for the Musselshell and local water users. Speakers include:
- Mike Ruggles, MT FWP
- Laura Nowling, Musselshell Watershed Coalition
2:00 p.m. Cookies and Coffee at Two Dot Community Hall by Upper Musselshell Conservation District
- Peter Marchi, Chief Water Commissioner for the Musselshell Distribution Project
- Craig Dalgarno, Water Manager in the Upper Musselshell
- Leon Hammond, Water Manager for Deadman’s Basin
This tour would not be possible without the support from our partners at DEQ, Musselshell Watershed Coalition, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.