Butte-Silver Bow Creek, Anaconda, and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin
Since 2007, Westscape has been a principal supplier of native shrubs to the U.S. EPA
Superfund sites of Butte, Anaconda, and the vast Upper Clark Fork River Basin Restoration
area of western Montana. These areas are administered by the Montana Department of
Justice’s Natural Resource Damage Program and the Montana Department of
Environmental Quality, working together on remediation efforts.
The region encompasses numerous reclamation sites and together form the largest EPA
Superfund area in the U.S. The Upper Clark Fork drainage alone spans more than 22,000
square miles. Damage to the natural resources of this region were created by historical
mining and smelting operations at Butte and Anaconda. These disturbed sites are often
dominated by high levels of heavy metals and low soil pH. Remediation and reclamation
efforts by the state began in 1999 and are expected to continue well into the future. For
more information on these projects follow the state government links above. For news from
the Clark Fork Coalition, a citizens non-profit organization, go to http://www.clarkfork.org/
Westscape Public Reclamation Projects
Anaconda Uplands, Montana
Golden Currant and Water Birch
Silver Bow Creek, Montana
Silver Buffaloberry Seedlings
Silver Bow Creek, Montana
Dogwood and Shrubby Potentilla
Silver Bow Creek, Montana
Westscape Greenhouse Prodcution
Anaconda Uplands, Montana
Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge, near Rapelje, Montana
Phytoremediation of Salinity and Selenium of Surface Water within Hailstone
Basin National Wildlife Refuge x Dewatering, Cleanup, and Restoration of
Basin Reservoir and Ephemeral Tributary Inflow and Outflow Channels
From 2009-2014, Westscape Nursery was a principal contractor to the U.S. Department
of the Interior-United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of a collaborative,
multi-disciplinary effort reclamation project at the Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge
(NWR) in central Montana; a stop-over site for migratory waterfowl in the Intermountain
Central Flyway. Hailstone was considered one the 10 most endangered refuges in the
USFWS national system due to decades of hyper-salinization and accumulation of toxic
forms of selenium in the basin which were causing mortality and birth defects to birds
using Hailstone Lake. Westscape’s principal role in this project was to provide
supporting research and plant material, and to develop strategies for landscape-scale
reclamation, revegetation, soil stabilization, and mitogation of blowing toxic dusts.
Westscape worked closely with Dr. James Bauder, an internationally recognized soil
scientist, salinity, and water quality expert at Montana State University and Russell
Smith, a wetlands biologist from Livingston, MT.
Hailstone Bird Mortality - photo courtesy of
Karen Nelson, US Fish Wildlife Service
Entrapped Avocet photo courtesy of Karen Nelson,
US Fish Wildlife Service
Westscape used native halophytes (highly salt tolerant plants) developed under its USDA-
SBIR research grants program to help establish initial vegetation on the site. In early
2010, in collaboration with Arbuckle Native Seedsters of Billings, MT large quantities of
Nutall’s alkaligrass (a salt tolerant native grass species) were harvested from the hyper-
saline shoreline of Hailstone Lake. In fall, 2010, Westscape, working with Mark Majerus
(NRCS-retired) of Native Advice and the USDA-NRCS Bridger Plant Materials replanted
the alkaligrass along with its selected halophytes and other native salt tolerant species in
field-scale demonstrations for eventual reclamation of the lake bed and basin.
Mark Majerus with Arbuckle Native Seedster
harvesting Nutall's Alkaligrass on site.
Robert Dunn and Mark Majerus
Alkali Saltgrass seed harvest.
Hailstone Fall Seeding Plots 2010
"Cultivating Conservation with the Bridger Plant Materials Center" is an informational
DVD filmed put together by the USDA-NRCS in cooperation with Montana State University
and discusses the challenges facing conservation in Montana which includes issues like
the Upper Clark Fork River Restoration Project. The film contains some beautiful footage
of Montana and includes an interview with Westscape Nursery. Copies of the film can be
requested from the NRCS at the following link:
Hellroaring Creek in the Centennial Valley (Montana-Idaho)
Arctic Grayling Habitat Enhancement. The Nature Conservancy
Hell Roaring Creek, Centennial Valley
Native Willow Stands
In 2009, Westscape Nursery began working with the Montana Chapter of the Nature
Conservancy in efforts to restore riparian habitat along Hell Roaring Creek in the striking
Centennial Valley of SW Montana. The Centennial Mountains form a rugged, high
mountain border between Montana and Idaho. The expansive valley below is one of the
most pristine and remote areas of Montana and is home to grizzly bear, wolves, elk, moose,
and more than 260 species of birds. Hell Roaring Creek is one of the last places on earth
where Arctic grayling trout survive. Years of intensive cattle grazing along the creek have
degraded riparian shrub habitat (principally willows) which is critical for healthy stream flow,
beaver activity, and providing suitable areas for grayling breeding. Westscape, working
with Natahn Korb of the Nature Conservancy, Scott Gillian, a Bozeman fluvial hydroligist,
and Miller Recreation, a stream renovation company from Alder, MT developed a plan for
the re-establishment of native willow populations along Hell Roaring. Since 2009,
Westscape has been collecting native willow seed from the surrounding areas and
producing containerized plants for establishment in the riparian zones.
Hell Roaring Creek – 3,245 miles to the Atlantic Ocean !
USDA-Small Business Innovation Research Awards (SBIR)
Based on its initial findings from Phase I research, Westscape Nursery was awarded a
multi-year contract as part of a cooperative working agreement with the US Department
of the Interior-Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), USGS, and Montana State University
(MSU) to evaluate and implement (through a series of demonstration plots and
research) novel strategies for the revegetation of a de-watered saline lakebed in the
Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Montana. The lake and surrounding areas
have been severely impacted by extreme levels of sodium and selenium accumulation.
The lake was dewatered in2011, creating a 500 acre saline playa, devoid of plant life.
Sodium and selenium concentrations have reached toxic levels and have led to mortality
in migratory waterfowl and are also responsible for the occurrence of saline dust storm
events. This playa area and contract has allowed Westscape to use Hailstone as a
proving ground for target species from this project and deployment methods. In 2011,
(after two previous seasons of small test plots) superior germplasm from the SBIR
project were seeded in large-scale test plots on a playa area of exceedingly high sodium
levels. These seedings were combined with novel methods and combinations of soil
manipulation and organic matter additions. One species in particular, Suaeda
calceoliformis has emerged as a standout species in both the Hailstone field trial and in
greenhouse evaluation studies for the major objectives of the SBIR project. This is an
advanced generation line selected for extreme salt tolerance, evapotranspiration
potential, biomass, upright growth habit, and potential selenium detoxification. In 2012,
field results showed that S. calceoliformis had completely established across the test plot
areas, producing substantial biomass and ground cover on an area previously believed
to be uninhabitable for plant life. This selection is the process of registration with
AOSCA; a national certification program for the development of native wild germplasm
for restoration, revegetation, and stabilization of disturbed natural communities and is a
precursor to further IP status. USFWS provided funding for a graduate student at MSU
to work with Westscape at Hailstone NWR. That work and thesis were completed in
2012 and incorporates data and findings from this SBIR project. Data from this project
are currently being shared with MSU, USFWS, and USDA-NRCS scientists. Westcape
makes formal annual reports and recommendations to USFWS which include data from
this SBIR and recommendations on larger-scale applications for reclamation of the
impacted basin to reduce dust pollution and enhance wildlife habitat using that
knowledge. Since the inception of this project, data has been presented at both the sixth
(St. Louis) and eighth (Portland) International Conference of Phytotechnology (ICP). In
2012, we will present data at the tenth ICP (Syracuse) or elsewhere. Scientist and
engineers from 30 countries participate in ICP. We have presented two invited talks to
the Montana Native Plant Society. In 2012 Westscape hosted a field day presentation at
Hailstone NWR for USFWS scientists and administrators.
Lysimeters used to measure salt
uptake and water use by research
halophytes (Suaeda caleoliformis).
Fall seeded Suaeda caleoliformis at
Hailstone NWR 2011. Photo Sept
Salt playa following lake dewatering in
Making furrows on shoreline fall 2011.
Adding dry mulch, compost and
seed from a blower truck fall 2011.
Suaeda calceoliformis with seed fall 2012
used as a cover crop to aid in
establishment of native grasses.
Seeded Puccinella establishment 2012.
Final establishment 2014. Halophytes
have been replaced by native grasses.