Volunteers braved the cold to work on the Firewise Demonstration Garden on Nov. 1, 2020, behind the Clapp building at the University of Montana.

Firewise gardening is a form of landscaping done to prevent the spread of fire to surrounding homes. Prominent ways of accomplishing this are choosing plants with high moisture content, reducing flammable material on the ground, spacing plants out over a wider area and pruning plants.

The volunteers grabbed shovels and took to breaking up the frozen ground while dealing with 20°F temperatures. Then, they prepared the soil for planting by mixing in a layer of sand, a process that was made challenging by the snow. The volunteers worked from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. mainly adding plants that are native to Montana.

The team in charge of this project is made up by Melody Hollar, Nate Miller, Zachary Garibay and Liam Stevens. These students took on this project as part of their ecosystem science and restoration capstone class. They have been working on the garden since the Spring of 2020.

The space used to be a native plant garden that had been in disrepair, but hundreds of volunteer hours have gotten the garden to the point it is at now. The team has received almost $10,000 in grants to accomplish their work on the Firewise Demonstration Garden.