It’s been a busy season of community engagement at our Rock Creek Confluence property, near Clinton. In June, we welcomed our community back after a long hiatus in 2020 with an open house and volunteer trail workday. Twenty-five volunteers helped spruce up the 1/3-mile universal trail, then joined us and Rock Creek neighbors to learn about our ongoing restoration, education, and public access efforts. A week later, Boy Scouts with Troop 1911 helped put the finishing touches on this season’s needed trail work. Thank you, volunteers!
Visitors might also notice two new developments along the trail: a suite of interpretive signs that were installed last year, and three new benches. Big thanks to Lion Lumber & Build for constructing the benches, the Missoula County Weed District and Extensions Youth in Restoration crew for helping to install them, and funding partner AARP Montana for making them possible.
We are also thrilled to welcome back our education partners. These partnerships include summer camps and school programs with the Montana Natural History Center, Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, and the Missoula YMCA. The Confluence is an important resource for these partners, who use the site for their nature-based programs at no cost.
The Confluence also serves as a living laboratory. For the sixth year, the east side hosted a University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab bird banding station. This spring, researchers with MPG Ranch helped install a Motus station on the Confluence’s barn, which will pick up “pings” from passing wildlife that have been fitted with transmitters. From these partnerships, we’re excited to gain a better understanding of who and what is using the Confluence for habitat.
Restoration also continues. Through a Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP grant, we completed forest thinning to reduce wildfire risk. And in partnership with Montana State University and the Missoula County Weed District and Extension, the Confluence is helping to explore the newest methods of managing noxious weeds and restoring native vegetation through long-term studies.
Perhaps the biggest change is that the Confluence Cabin is now home to two couples who are serving as property caretakers. If you see Noah, Mari, Henry, Alyssa, or their friendly pups, be sure and say hello!
Header photo of June's open house and volunteer workday by Five Valleys staff