Session 13: Landscape Approaches

d) Channel Migration Easement Program: An Innovative Approach to Protecting Riparian Habitat

Friday, May 12
9:20 AM - 10:50 AM
Location: Room 308

Montana Aquatic Resources Services (MARS) Channel Migration Easement (CME) Program is an innovative, community-based approach to conserving Montana’s iconic Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone River, flowing north and east from Yellowstone National Park through Montana to North Dakota, is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 states.

MARS uses funds from mitigation and non-mitigation sources to fund CMEs which are the first of their kind in the U.S. CMEs at their core prohibit landowners along the river from stabilizing banks or preventing the channel to move or flow out onto the floodplain. According to the Yellowstone River Cumulative Effects Analysis published by the Army Corps of Engineers in late 2015, “bank armoring has a cumulative impact on river process” by disconnecting the river from its floodplain. CME’s maintain the connection between the river and its floodplain, providing many ecological benefits. CMEs also help ensure a reliable supply of clean water to Yellowstone River Valley including its agricultural producers, municipalities, other water users, and the fish and wildlife populations of the river and floodplain. This presentation will give an in-depth overview of the program and challenges it faces.

MARS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2011 in response to the rapid loss of aquatic resources across the state. Originally formed for the purpose of sponsoring the Montana In-Lieu Fee Mitigation program, MARS continually strives to develop innovative solutions to aquatic resource challenges.

Wendy Weaver

Executive Director
Montana Aquatic Resources Services

Wendy Weaver is the Executive Director of Montana Aquatic Resources Services, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Bozeman, Montana. Wendy is a licensed professional civil engineer with over 20 years in land development, water, wastewater infrastructure, and water resource design. Wendy is a member of the Montana State University (MSU) Civil Engineering Advisory Committee, and serves as a Professional Mentor of MSU Engineers Without Borders, working to bring clean water and sanitation to elementary schools in rural Kenya. She has also worked as a consultant with the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Stillwater Mine on their Good Neighbor Agreement, which was developed between the community and the mine to protect the area's quality of life, agricultulure land and water. She strongly believes in protecting and enhancing Montana’s valuable water resources, and promoting landscape resiliency.

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d) Channel Migration Easement Program: An Innovative Approach to Protecting Riparian Habitat

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