State Wildlife Grant - T-42-R
Cottonwood Restoration in North Dakota Riparian Forests
April 2014 -- March 2016
Dr. Jared LeBoldus, North Dakota State University
Over the past 100 years land use changes have had significant impacts on riparian cottonwood forests. Some of these land use changes include livestock grazing, water diversion, domestic settlement, channelization, and agricultural clearing; all resulting in a loss of cottonwood habitat. However, dam construction has had the single greatest impact on these ecosystems. Regular flooding, and the resulting bare exposed mineral soil is essential to cottonwood regeneration. During the 2011 growing season in ND the first significant flood in many decades occurred on the lower Missouri River. The overall objective is to develop a management strategy to restore cottonwood habitat, used by wildlife species of conservation priority, along the Missouri river. The specific objectives are two-fold: (1) monitor the establishment, recruitment, and growth of riparian cottonwood forests following the 2011 floods in the Oahe WMA; and (2) test the effect of weed control and planting to restore cottonwood forests in the absence of flooding.