Wild West Water

NWTF projects in America’s Western Wildlands frequently emphasize improvements to streamside zones, called riparian areas, and water corridors. A variety of these projects illustrate the NWTF’s mission to improve water resources in that region.

One project is improving water quality along the Bear River in southeast Idaho by installing exclusion fences to keep cattle off a section of the river, allowing native plants to rebound from over grazing. In addition, the NWTF Idaho State Chapter approved a Super Fund project to purchase mast-producing trees, protectors, fertilizer packets and other necessities to reestablish trees beneficial to wildlife. 

NWTF volunteers partnered with their local Boy Scouts to plant the trees within the area. This project was supported by a $14,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $3,000 from the NWTF Super Fund and countless volunteer hours.

Kurt Dyroff, NWTF’s director of conservation operations for the western region, said they are planning similar projects for other areas. “These projects not only provide great wildlife habitat but also improve water quality by reducing sedimentation and nutrient loading into the river,” Dyroff said. “The stream banks are now stabilized and re-vegetated.”

Another method of improving wildlife habitat and water quality requires going on the offensive with invasive species. In Texas’ Northern Panhandle, the NWTF Texas State Chapter has a Super Fund project in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to remove invasive plant species crowding out native trees and plants.  

In areas with limited water supply, removing harmful, invasive plants frees streams and streamside habitats and fosters healthier and more diverse plants and animals native to the area. The Texas program is focused on Hutchinson, Roberts and Hemphill counties, where they are removing saltcedar, Eastern red cedar and Russian olive. 

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