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Home Engage Hands on the Ranch
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Hands on the Ranch Classes

View photos of Hands on the Ranch

The Hands on the Ranch program offers high school students a unique opportunity to assess stream health on working lands-- right in their own backyard. The stream restoration and assessment work takes place at the Coalition's 2,300-acre working ranch, Dry Cottonwood Creek Ranch, located in the Upper Clark Fork Valley.

In 2010, the Clark Fork Coalition partnered with the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and Powell County High School to create Hands on the Ranch. In the fall, students from earth sciences and biology classes visit the ranch to assess the health of Dry Cottonwood Creek, which runs through the property.  Then, students, teachers, and ranch staff work together in the off-season to create restoration solutions for the creek—and in May, students re-visit the ranch to plant native shrubs, seed the area with native grasses, and place large woody debris in the stream to improve habitat.  Students learn how to protect and monitor their plants, and ranch staff demonstrate how weed control and grazing management will promote the successful survival of the new plantings.

In addition to the Hands on the Ranch field days, selected senior students will participate in a more intensive 40-hour Restoration Technician Certification Program run by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (CFWEP) each spring.  These select students will learn revegetation and reforestation planning, as well as implementation techniques.  Graduates will have a leg up towards good-paying jobs with specialized restoration firms in the Upper Clark Fork this summer, and be able to apply their new skills.


Thank you to our funders for making this project possible in 2012, including:

The Steele-Reese Foundation
Patagonia Environmental Grants Program
New Belgium Foundation
Deer Lodge County Conservation District
Town Pump Foundation