People carefully unpacked, watered and planted native tree saplings along Levee V on the Clark Fork River on Sept. 26, 2020, to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

The Missoula Valley Water Quality District and the City of Missoula Storm Water Division partnered together to host the event. Both agencies have members that work for Montana Conservation Corps. as well that led volunteers through the process.

Crew members got down in the dirt along the 50 foot section of Levee V by the river to plant chokecherry trees, Red Osier Dogwoods and Rocky Mountain Maples. The native trees have a 50% chance of survival, according to Missoula City Storm Water employee Marie Noland.

When glaciers that feed into the Clark Fork melt in the spring, the extra flow of water can tear down vegetation along the river bed. The larger plants were wrapped in burlap in hopes that it will weight them down and increase their chance of survival. 

The plants help improve the habitat along the edge of the river, helping to absorb heat and shade the river. This keeps the Clark Fork cool, allowing fish and other animals to live peacefully. 

Now the crew members hope that the plants survive through autumn and winter, if not they will have to figure out a new plan.