Riparian Cottonwood Forest Restoration Along the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana

        Riparian Cottonwood Forest Restoration Along the Yellowstone River in Billings, Montana

          Article Summary

          Across Montana, dams curtail annual spring floods, depriving riparian cottonwood forests of the regenerative disturbance processes that sustain them. Invasive plant species further disrupt plant communities and ecosystem dynamics. Billings, MT lies along the undammed and iconic Yellowstone River. Spring floods still drive ecosystem change, but invasive species prevent a return to a fully functioning natural ecosystem. Restoring a highly visible natural area adjacent to Montana’s largest city will provide abundant opportunities for education on disturbance regimes, invasive species, and ecosystem processes.

          In a nutshell, this resource offers:

          • A description of floodplain cottonwood forest ecology, its ties to the natural disturbance regime of annual spring flooding, and the disruption of natural cycles due to non-native invasive species.
          • Examples of partnership approaches to complex ecological problems when little to no municipal budget has been appropriated.
          • Project documentation at the initial stages of implementation.
          • Realistic yet ambitious goals to guide restoration efforts.

          How to use this resource:

          • As a source of ideas for partnerships that can add capacity and resources to a restoration project.
          • As an example of a restoration project that aims to restore the natural disturbance regime.

          Author: Heather Bilden, Steven McConnell, Megan Poulette

          Date published: 2020

          Point of contact: Heather Bilden, Adult Programs Coordinator, Montana Audubon Center, 

          Citation: Bilden, H.; McConnell, S.; and Poulette, M. 2020. Riparian Cottonwood Forest Restoration Along the Yellowstone River: A Featured Natural Area in Billings, Montana. Cities and the Environment (CATE): Vol. 13: Iss. 1, Article 15.

          Resource available online here.


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