Buckthorn report

A quick report from the front lines of the battle against invasive weeds:


Buckthorn sapling

Last night Bryce Gray from the Clark Fork Coalition’s Volunteer Corps led a group of about 6 people armed with various weed-removal tools to an area along the west bank of Rattlesnake Creek (approximate location here) where an invasive European shrub called “buckthorn” (Rhamnus cathartica) has taken hold.  We pulled a few dozen plants ranging from 1 to 5 feet in height, along with a few houndstongues whose seeds we bagged for safe disposal.  Future trips will be scheduled to contain and knock back this invader.  Check with CFC for details.

If you go, try to bring a weed wrench–last night was my first experience with this fabulous tool which works great for a small slippery shrub like buckthorn.

The Buckthorn Stops Here

The Clark Fork Coalition’s Volunteer Corps is partnering with Parks and Rec for a weed pull on Rattlesnake Creek on Tues, July 8 at 5:30 pm. Meet at Pineview Park, bring gloves and a good attitude :)

Buckthorn is an aggressive introduced plant that is choking out native vegetation along Rattlesnake Creek. Will you help us pull this nasty invasive that’s causing havoc along one of Missoula’s most beloved backyard creeks? Bring gloves and sturdy shoes and meet us at Pineview Park on Tuesday, July 8th at 5:30 pm.

for more information, please contact:
Jill Alban | Outreach Director | Clark Fork Coalition

Summer in the ‘Snake (and beyond)

Our local rivers are past their peak spring flows and the danger of major flooding is past, but the water in Rattlesnake Creek is still pretty high and fast.

Rattlesnake Creek @ Greenough Park

Rattlesnake Creek @ Greenough Park, June 20, 2014

This week would be a good time to brush up on River Safety, and coincidentally you can do just that this Wednesday, June 25th, from noon-1 at Silver Park (specifically, the boat ramp next to Osprey Stadium) for the Clark Fork Coalition’s River Season Kickoff.  Along with a river safety demo from licensed river guides, you’ll learn about 2014 rules for boating the Blackfoot River, hear the latest construction plan for Milltown State Park, and take a tour of Missoula’s newest riverside hangout at Silver Park.

Also this week, an event in the Rattlesnake Valley with a focus on good music and increasing train traffic. Dana Lyons (best known [by me anyway] for his song “Cows With Guns”) will perform at Ten Spoon Winery, 4175 Rattlesnake Drive, this Thursday, June 26th, 6:30-9:00 p.m.  Dana’s tour is called the “Crude Awakening Oil Train Tour” and it’s designed to raise awareness and provide information along with a fun time.   “Suggested donation of $10-$20 (no one turned away!)”

Read the rest of this entry

Endangered Species Day at Rattlesnake Trailhead

In recognition of Endangered Species Day , renowned bear safety expert Chuck Bartlebaugh will provide bear awareness and safety information at the main Rattlesnake Trailhead on Saturday, May 17th from 11:00 a.m. till 1:00 p.m.  Chuck will also demonstrate the proper use of bear spray.  The event is sponsored by the Endangered Species Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and Be Bear Aware. Read the rest of this entry

Rattlesnake Creek Bank Stabilization


If you haven’t been up into the Rattlesnake Recreation Area for awhile, you’ll see some changes at the “horse bridge” about a half-mile in from the parking area!

Last fall a couple dozen large boulders were deposited along the trail, 201405040933_Diggingand in early March of this year the Forest Service and Geum Environmental Consulting used an excavator to construct berms around the popular stream access area just downstream from the bridge. Logs and conifer slash were added to the boulders and topsoil to create a stable surface, with temporary fencing added for protection.

Then this past weekend (Sunday May 4th) volunteers from the RCWG joined in to plant several dozen shrubs and pines. RCWG obtained a grant from the Western Native Trout Initiative201405041012_Planting to supplement Forest Service funds on this project. It still looks a little rough but as the plants grow in over the next few years it should develop into a natural-looking streamside, with protected access for people and horses to reach the stream without damaging the bank.

Maintenance this summer will be important–the new plants must be watered and protected from trampling. RCWG plans to rely on volunteers to help with this effort, and if you’d like to be part of the team, even for just a day or two this summer, we’d love to hear from you.


Give Local Missoula Day is coming up

Give Local Missoula logoThe Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group is one of a number of local non-profit organizations that have joined Give Local Missoula. It’s part of a nation-wide program that takes place on May 6th.  Donations of any amount from $10 up will be matched by local and national prize money. Check out the website and please consider donating on that day to help RCWG and other worthwhile groups.


The Rattlesnake Creek "Bears" poster graphic from Disney Nature
Watershed Group
is pleased to
sponsor a special
Matinee Showing


Saturday, April 19th, 4:00 p.m. at Missoula’s Carmike 12 Theaters (Reserve St. & Mullan Rd.)   Theater details here.

The first 50 or so ticketholders will win a free bear-related prize (including Defenders of Wildlife stuffed bears, Mountain Press books, REI daypack, and Counter Assault Bear Spray) (one prize per family please).  Handouts and local experts will be on hand to discuss techniques and practices for people to live safely in bear country.

Best wishes for the Rattlesnake Watershed and Beyond

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and best wishes for the coming year!

Panorama view across the Rattlesnake Valley

Panorama view across the Rattlesnake Valley toward Mount Jumbo, seen from the North Hills. Photo by Eric Edlund, Dec.22, 2013.

It’s been another good year for the RCWG. This fall we received funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via the Western Native Trout Initiative to work with the Lolo National Forest to improve streambank and riparian habitat in Rattlesnake Creek near the “horse bridge”.  Some large boulders have already been delivered, and work should commence around early March 2014.

Earlier in the year we also completed restoration work in Bugbee Park, and we hosted several successful events as part of the  Bear Aware Apple Share project, including the inaugural Tour da Bear and the second annual Fall Festival at Ten Spoon Winery. In December we wrapped up the funded portion of the project (thanks to the City of Missoula’s Neighborhood Large Grant program), but we’re planning further events for 2014 and of course we’ll continue to work with partners like Great Bear Foundation and missoulabears.org to help keep the Rattlesnake Valley safe for humans and bears in the future.

2014 will bring some changes to the RCWG.  Jill Alban will be stepping down from her position as President, and later this spring we’ll lose Greg Peters, our current Vice President.  Starting in January, Dave Fortner and Eric Edlund will serve as co-Chairs of the Advisory Board.  We’re looking for new Board members–if you’re interested please contact us and/or attend our mid-January board meeting (details will be posted on this web page).

The work of the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group depends on volunteers and fundraising from the community; whether you’d like to volunteer, attend a meeting, make a tax-deductible donation, enlist our help with a watershed project, or just want more information, please contact us by email or phone.  Thanks!

Fall Festival 2013

This Sunday!

Poster for Fall Festival

Last year’s “first annual” Fall Festival was great; this year’s will be even better!  RCWG is co-hosting the event with the Big Sky Beekeepers at Ten Spoon Winery this Sunday.

It’s not too late to enter the apple (or pear) recipe contest–just make sure to deliver your dish to the judges before 1:00 p.m. We’ll be pressing and sampling cider from 100 lbs. or so of apples picked by volunteers throughout the Rattlesnake Valley; you can also bring your own apples and use the cider press to take home cider for yourself (bring your own containers please). There’ll be a raffle with great prizes, local food and beverage vendors, and live music too.

Fall Festival, Bee Fest, or “Bear Aware Apple Share”–there’ll be something for everyone from noon to 4:00 p.m. this Sunday, October 20th at Ten Spoon Winery in the Rattlesnake Valley.  Hope to see you there.

Please don’t feed the bears

There’s a summary of the March 2013 meeting on “Bears in the Rattlesnake” posted under the Bear Aware Apple Share heading on our website. Please stay tuned for events this spring, summer and fall, including the Great Bear Foundation’s annual “bear honoring” the weekend of May 3-5, a “bear aware” event planned by Chuck Bartlebaugh, and a Rattlesnake-area tour of potential bear attractants (trash, chicken coops, etc.)  and what we can do to make them less attractive.

Speaking of which….


Please don’t let this happen to you, or to any bears in your neighborhood. As Chuck Jonkel reported at last month’s meeting, during 2012 a total of 67 “notices of violation” were issued in our region; most of those were in the Rattlesnake Valley, and enforcement will be a priority again this year.

(Please follow this link for a larger version of the comic, or this link for the artist’s webpage).


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