Restoration Landscapes of Central Montana: A Field Tour

 Matt Comer of the MT BLM and MSU participants in a former crop field undergoing restoration to native range.

Matt Comer of the MT BLM and MSU participants in a former crop field undergoing restoration to native range.

Twelve MSU graduate students and faculty are better-informed and (even) more inspired about their work after spending a week-end in central Montana. Traveling as the “Grasslands Working Group,” we visited land managers and land owners engaged in restoration of the sagebrush steppe and forest ecosystems of the iconic “Charles M. Russell” region.

Seeking to better understand the social, economic, political and ecological dimensions of restoration, we visited ranchers, farmers, and conservationists and the landscapes where they live and work.

We toured agricultural fields undergoing restoration to native plant mixes, water infrastructure and the site of the 2017 Lodgepole Complex grassland wildfire. Our local hosts and guides represented area ranch operations, local conservation districts, the NRCS and BLM, and the American Prairie Reserve.

The MSU Grasslands Working Group acts as hub for network building and knowledge exchange among diverse disciplines and off-campus constituencies. Our broader community of stakeholders includes anyone with an interest in the resilience of Montana’s rural range and grassland landscapes—including sagebrush steppe and mixed grass prairie plant communities and the variety of introduced plant communities among them, such as cultivated crops—and the diverse social and economic systems they support.

RCRG PhD Student Kristin Smith awarded USDA fellowship

Kristin K. Smith is the recipient of a prestigious, multi-year fellowship from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This award supports Kristin’s groundbreaking work examining the experience of communities in the Bakken as they attempt to leverage the current energy boom for long-term prosperity. Kristin’s work operates at the nexus of critical resource geography, political industrial ecology, and economics. Follow Kris on twitter: @kksmith312