Improvements on the Gallatin

Gallatin Restoration

Enhancing access & protecting plants.

Access points on the Gallatin are no secret, but their use comes at a cost to this well-loved river. That’s where the Gallatin River Task Force steps in to help.

Recently, the Task Force restored 1,044 feet of streamside vegetation, known as a riparian buffer, at the Upper Deer Creek access site. Additional improvements to the site include two designated parking areas, a handicapped-accessible trail, a fishing platform, a concrete boat launch, and a kayak launch. These types of restoration-focused projects address the proliferation of visitor-created roads and trails, and provide the infrastructure upgrade necessary to mitigate potential conflicts and further resource damage.

The goal of this project, as with the rest of the Task Force’s initiatives, was to keep access open and to protect the critical pieces of a healthy river. Plant roots act like glue, holding streambanks together, reducing erosion, and filtering pollutants. Streamside vegetation provides food, cover, and cool water for fish and insects. Increased use over time degrades these essential elements. Restoration projects revitalize the health of these areas, reduce unmanaged recreation, and provide sustainable river-access points. Without them, the deterioration would be irreparable.

The Task Force has more projects planned, but not without help. In conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, they’ve identified a total of 91 sites in need of restoration, with an estimated pricetag at over $3.5 million. According to U.S. Forest Service representative Kathryn Barker, a project partner, “Working collaboratively helps us establish sustainable river access points that maintain the availability of recreation, but also reduce the negative effects of dispersed use on the watershed.”

The preservation benefits to the Gallatin are invaluable, and implementation of recreation and ecological restoration projects ultimately depends equally on the commitment, resources, and funding from a number of partners. It’s an investment we can all get behind.