About 80 acres northeast of Bozeman, Mont., in the Bridger Canyon have been protected with a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Easement.

This is not the first easement that Greg Adams, his wife Christina Fastnow, and mother, Dee Mast, have on their properties. In 1999, they worked with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust to protect more than 400 acres.

“Greg is the third generation on this land and is showing a real, long-term commitment to conservation,” said Pat Cole, USDA NRCS biologist in Bozeman. “This area is beautiful and there is a race between development and conservation in this corridor.”


NRCS Wetlands Reserve Easements address former or degraded wetlands that have been used to produce food and fiber, where the hydrology has been significantly modified and will be substantially restored. NRCS will work with Greg’s brother Dean, who lives on and manages the land, to develop the wetland restoration plan.

Both the Adams/Fastnow and Mast easement areas will see an increase in wetland acreage and an improved hydrologic system. Streams will be more stable, causing less erosion. In times of high flows, water will be able to spread out over the floodplain rather than remaining in a deep, narrow channel and exacerbating erosion issues. As water spreads over the land, it slows down and soaks in, recharging groundwater supplies.

Groundwater, in turn, feeds slowly back into the stream, keeping more cool water in the stream later into the year. More water and no farming will also help to slowly reestablish a more natural plant community. Cottonwood seeds will be spread and watered, shrubs like willow and redosier dogwood will be allowed to sucker, and native grasses and forbs will be seeded.

Black bear, elk, deer, great blue heron, bald eagles, mountain lion, bobcat, deer, and more wildlife have been observed on the property. While there is already a lot of wildlife present, cooler stream flows and a shift to native plants will create better habitat for fish and other aquatic species, neotropical migrant birds, big game, and waterfowl.

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