Today the Environmental Law Institute in Washington D.C. awarded the Andrew and Anne Laszlo family of Ennis with the 2010 National Wetland Award for Landowner Stewardship for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation.
The Laszlos, owners of Granger Ranches in Madison County, have permanently protected more than half of their 14,000-acre ranch and restored or enhanced 510 acres of wetlands and 35,000 feet of stream channel and riparian habitats. This is the largest wetland and stream restoration project of its kind in the state of Montana.
“Restoring floodplain wetlands has a host of benefits, not the least of which is storing vital runoff and ground water that discharges into streams and rivers, maintaining flows during critical summer months”, says Tom Hinz with the Montana Wetlands Legacy Partnership.
Over the past five years, the family has worked with federal, state, and private conservation partners to protect and restore a major portion of the O’Dell Creek headwaters, part of an 8,000-acre wetland complex that is part of Montana’s largest watershed. The area was drained for livestock forage production back in the 1950s. Since 2004, the restoration effort has filled or plugged 16,000 feet of drainage ditches, restored more than 500 acres of wetlands, and created 35,000 feet of stream channel and adjacent riparian habitat. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of bird species using the area during the breeding season increased from 11 to 90.
The Laszlo family sees the restoration effort as part of a broader vision that supports sustainable cattle ranching and provides habitat for fish and wildlife. The commitment and dedication of the Laszlo family has also inspired local conservation organizations, agricultural producers, school groups, hunters and anglers, community members, and other landowners to become involved in wetland restoration.
For more information about Montana’s efforts to protect our valuable wetland resources visit: https://www.wetlandslegacy.org/odell-creek.html.
Source: MT Department of Environmental Quality
Photo Credit: Montana Wetlands Legacy Partnership
Posted by Haylie Shipp