In a follow-up to my last blog post, Julia Crain requested a chance to be a guest writer on the blog! I was thrilled to hear about the great idea that she had, and I was happy to give her the space! This is exactly the type of thing I was talking about when I said that we need to clean up our community. Take a look at what Julia had to say, and make the effort to be a part of this great program! -Maggie
A few days ago, I found myself driving across Rowe Road looking north toward the Butte Hill marveling at the shades of green emerging. Butte is waking up from its long winter, and the signs are everywhere. Spring always brings with it a sense of optimism, and here in my corner of the world the inspiration to tackle big projects I’ve developed over the winter.
For the last few years, one of my most favorite projects is mobilizing the Butte Hill Tree Planting program. It’s a small program, within the work Butte-Silver Bow accomplishes daily, but meaningful and highly impactful upon our local landscape.
The program’s premise is straightforward, planting native species of grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees to diversify the ecosystem and stop erosion of sediments into the stormwater system and Silver Bow and Blacktail Creeks. Growing up, I really didn’t pay much attention to the health of our local surface waters, but recently the health and wellbeing of our streams has emerged as a bellwether of our ecosystem and by extension our community.
When I was a girl, Butte was largely void of vegetation, and trees were very few and far between. For years, our soils unable to support the proliferation of vegetation. Since that time, our community has undergone incredible improvement, barren landscapes transformed into grassy fields and public amenities. In recent years, we’ve begun to leverage from this reclaimed land the beginnings of a restored landscape, returning reclaimed lands to their natural condition, or as close to as possible, through the humble act of planting trees.
Planting trees is by nature a hopeful act – it is a commitment to patience, trial and error, and persistence. Planting trees is also a very generous act – a four-inch seedling aspires to be a forty-foot tall ponderosa – but we know it will take well over a generation to get there. And, yet we plant trees anyway, anticipating the joy they will bring to generations yet to come.
Since 2012, this small program has supported the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs – two caliper conifers, seven-inch tall saplings, and every size in between. Each plant is a symbolic gesture – a bet on our future, laid upon our past.
I feel honored to participate in this, not because it is part of my job, but out of obligation to this city and everything it has afforded me. I hope you agree. If you feel as I do, please join me and my colleagues May 12, 2018, at Noon at the Mountain Con Foreman Park. There we will have 1,000 native trees and shrubs available to anyone who would like to plant a tree and invest in Butte’s future.
This event is free and friendly to participants of all ages and abilities. Planting locations are pre-dug, and the topography is relatively level. Montana Tech Restoration Ecology Program staff, Butte-Silver Bow staff, BNRC members and staff will all be there to help orient participants.