“This is for the future.”
Kim Grenager used to enjoy hiking and riding through her rugged, wooded property. In 2017, a fire scorched most of her upland areas, leaving dead trees, loose soil, and a creek full of sediment in its wake. With no other option than to seek aid on her own, Kim began applying to restoration grants left and right. Her hard work paid off, and within a couple of months she received an emergency grant from the NRCS that paid for trees to replant some of her burnt acreage. With this money, she was able to buy 3,000 trees discounted from the DNRC nursery. Unfortunately, the grant wouldn’t cover the planting of the trees, and hiring professionals to do this can be very expensive! This is where the Lolo Watershed Group came in.
Each year, the Lolo Watershed Group recruits a Big Sky Watershed Corps member to help build their capacity and get on-the-ground projects done. Abby Cutting-Smith was their 2018 member, and when she heard about Kim’s project, she put out the call for volunteers. Over the course of two weekends, about 50 volunteers made their way out to Kim’s creek-side property to plant larch, engelmann spruce, and pine in the lower reaches of the John Creek drainage. While historically the property was mainly larch, their recruitment is much more difficult than that of spruce or pine. Kim’s goal is to reestablish a root system that will stabilize the soil and lay the groundwork for her forest ecosystem to regenerate. Though the moose that used to frequent her mature forest habitat have not been back in force, she hopes that they will be in coming years. In the meantime, woodpeckers have filled the woods with the sounds of their knocking on remaining snags. As Kim put it, “I have to balance what I get to enjoy today with what it’s going to look like in 100 years. What I am working for is for the future.”