HELENA – Volunteers from the community in Helena participated in Lake Helena Watershed Group’s stream restoration project.

Willow trees were harvested and clipped near the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir.

The morning sun helped warm volunteers at the Helena Regulating Reservoir on Tuesday morning.

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Volunteers with gloves and clippers snipped sections of willows. The clippings will be transplanted in wetlands around the Helena Valley.

Willows provide a dense root mass to stabilize stream banks, “in addition to providing really great habitat for wildlife, and providing shade to keep the water temperatures cooler,” said Valerie Stacey, willow harvest Coordinator.

Willows grow fast, these will recover in just a couple of years, and the shoots’ harvest will quickly create new habitat for fish and wildlife.

“Even though we came in and clipped them and harvested a bunch, within the next year there will be one to two feet of growth,” said Stacey.

Volunteer Samantha Strable said the willow harvest was a great community exercise.

“Well, I think Montana is such a unique state because we have all this wilderness, and this public land, and I think it’s just so important to protect it, because we are preserving it for future generations,” said Strable.

Taylor Mudford serves with Americorps in Montana, and he said he’s happy to be outside and help the environment.

“If you don’t have a healthy environment, it’s kind of hard to live. It’s best for all systems, not just for humans, but for all wildlife,” said Mudford.

Valerie Stacey said the willow will be stored in cool damp place, and will remain dormant until the ground is thawed, and ready for planting.

She estimates about 2,000 willows were harvested on Sunday.