Hard Work and Fun Go Hand in Hand for Montana Volunteers
By Dick Talley, Southwest Montana Chapter Chair
On June 16, 2012, the Southwest Montana Chapter met for a work day in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Sixteen volunteers, including two kids under the age of 12, along with five dogs and a collection of game carts, fencing pliers, sidecutters, plus a whole lot of determination, removed nearly 1.5 miles of four-strand, barbed-wire fencing in the Sawmill Creek drainage located in the magnificent Big Hole Valley south of Butte.
The drainage is located in a unique geographical area within some excellent wildlife habitat. The old fence was installed in years past to maintain the riparian area adjoining Sawmill Creek. Unfortunately, the fence created a pretty significant barrier to wildlife either crossing the drainage or visiting the creek for water. The BLM had installed a new cross fence atop the ridgelines flanking the drainage to protect the riparian area and allow for easier crossing, and the old fence was slated for removal.
The Southwest Montana Chapter was happy to help, as we try to team up with an agency on at least one field project every year, whether it’s pulling fence, spraying or identifying weeds, or picking up trash. While we were pulling the fence, tracks and scat of elk, deer, bears and other critters were very evident, indicating the area gets alot of use and driving the point home that we were doing something worthwhile.
Throughout the day, the sounds of laughter, camraderie and friendship could be heard as the group toiled away to roll up wire and pull posts. So much of our time together is usually spent planning and hosting our annual banquet. And while we consistently put on a great event and meet our revenue and expense goals, it’s even more rewarding for us to get outside and do something directly for habitat. On-the-ground projects are a real treat for our committee. We all treasure the satisfaction of working together with a common goal, and look forward to making wonderful memories each time.
I am very proud of our close-knit team of volunteers from the Southwest Montana Chapter. Each and every one of them is a tribute to RMEF and the human race.