Upper Ruby Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project
In 2011 Three Forks Grazing Association, a group of ranching families, surveyed and mapped the various weed infestations throughout their grazing allotments. They found that 830 acres of the 65,000 surveyed contained weeds, the top offenders were houndstongue, spotted knapweed, canada thistle, field scabious, leafy spurge, tall buttercup, hoary alyssum. While some were in remote regions a bulk were associated with trails, roads, and other disturbances. After this initial survey the URWMC was formalized and developed a comprehensive management plan focussing on:
- Improving effectiveness of prevention and control efforts on invasive plants in the management area
- More efficiently utilizing resources across management boundaries through coordination and strategic planning.
They have been holding cooperative spray days and fundraising every year since 2011. Current partners that participate in the URWMC include the Ruby Valley Conservation District & Watershed Council, Madison County, Three Forks (Ruby) Grazing Association, Robb-Ledford Grazing Association, Warm Springs Grazing Association, MT FWP, MT DNRC, US BLM, US FS, the Snowcrest Ranch, Timber Creek Ranch, Warm Springs Ranch, Upper Canyon Outfitters/Tate Ranch, and several additional private landowners and businesses.
In 2019, the Ruby Valley Conservation District received funding from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to treat 5,463 acres of noxious weeds in the Upper Ruby Watershed including spotted knapweed, houndstongue, and Canada thistle over 5 years. These weeds can outcompete native grasses and have little to no forage potential reducing food sources for wildlife Each summer, the RVCD contracts local weed spraying outfitters to control noxious weeds in the Warms Springs, Three Forks, Robb-Ledford, and West Face Greenhorn areas. The surrounding landowners contribute the effort by contracting weed spraying services as well. In the first year of the program, the RVCD treated 1,174 acres! Local grazing associations host annual ‘Spray Days’ to help control weeds on USFS grazing allotments.
This project is funded through a MT FWP Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program Award.