STEVENSVILLE- A river restoration project in the Bitterroot is nearing completion. We first looked at this project back in December as a group collected Christmas trees to use to keep the water at bay.
The shores of the Bitterroot River are receding and the water has been taking landowner's property with it, so some have turned to an all natural route to stop the erosion.
"Soil wraps, willows, slash provide stability in what once was a very unstable bank scenario," explained Ridge to River Restoration owner Russ Fox.
Around one quarter of the Bitterroot River restoration project has been completed and over 750 volunteer hours have been logged.
"I knew it would be hard work, but not this hard. It's been a long time since I used a sledge hammer," local landowner Tim Hunter said.
This may seem like a lot of time, but Fox says its less time-consuming and a lot more environmentally friendly than rip-rapping.
Rip-rapping also stops river encroachment but uses non-organic material.
"Cars have been used, in this case some would say successfully, to restrict the movement of the Bitterroot," Fox told us.
Landowners say spending this much time together to work on the environmentally friendly project also brings the neighbors closer together.
"It's mostly fun, there have been some frustrations. Of course my neighbor Darlene acts as a mother figure to all of us," Hunter said.
Now the bonds are built, the landowners we talked with say they are ready to finish strong- and quickly.
"The more rain we get, and of course [with] the run-off coming soon, we want to get it done before the high water comes," Hunter pointed out.
The group expects to wrap up the project by next Friday, long before the high waters of late April.
Volunteers from the Colorado Mountain College in Leadville Colorado are helping landowners finish the project on time and if you'd like to lend a hand, call Tim Hunter at (406) 777.5205.