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MTPMC

Bridger Plant Materials Center (MTPMC)
Serving the States of Montana and Wyoming

Established: 1959
Size: 140 acres
PMC Operation: NRCS
Land Ownership: Conservation Districts in Montana and Wyoming

Image of combine harvesting native grass with mountains in the background

The Bridger Montana Plant Materials Center (MTPMC) provides plant solutions for conservation issues across the diverse ecosystems of Montana and Wyoming. The service area topography ranges from the mountains in western Montana and Wyoming, to rolling plains, desert basins, and plateaus in the remaining areas of the states. Agriculture, resource extraction, and tourism are the basic industries, and affect the vast majority of the land area in Montana and Wyoming. The overall objective of the MTPMC is to select well adapted plant materials and develop new technologies for improved natural resource conservation.

Plant selection and technology development objectives of the MTPMC include improving rangeland health, enhancing pollinator habitat, plant community restoration after disturbance, reducing soil erosion from cropland, enriching soil health, and improving woody plant establishment. Studies directly applicable to rangeland and pasture sites include plantings to extend the livestock grazing period, improving species diversity, reducing erosion and noxious weed invasion after forest fires or invasive species removal, and increasing forage production. MTPMC continually works on developing propagation and production techniques for native species. MTPMC addresses soil quality with projects addressing revegetation of acid and heavy-metal contaminated soils, increasing the productivity of salt-affected sites, and testing cover crops. In addition, MTPMC provides training and outreach activities for NRCS staff, agencies, the public, and underserved groups.

New plant solutions have been developed for establishing forbs in conservation plantings, low-water landscaping, restoring woody plants to native range and riparian areas, propagating native species and culturally significant plants, and reclaiming areas disturbed by mining, wildfire, and road construction. The staff also produces and provides breeder and foundation class seed in support of commercial production of its releases.

The Bridger Plant Materials Center has selected and released 31 conservation grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees, which are extensively used throughout the northern plains.

Highlights

REVEGETATION OF DISTURBED LAND

Re-establish diverse native plant communities to promote ecosystem function

  • Selected and released seven forbs, seven shrubs, three trees, and 15 grasses for maximizing soil potential, enhancing wildlife habitat, and resisting weed invasion.
  • A 22-year collaborative effort with the Deer Lodge Valley Conservation District, State of Montana, and EPA to restore plant communities damaged by smelting operations in the Anaconda, Montana area resulting in 6 native plant selections and numerous new plant-based technologies.
  • Thirty years of interagency cooperation with the National Park Service on the propagation and production of indigenous plant materials to revegetate roadside disturbances from highway reconstruction projects.
  • Produced Improving Sage Grouse Habitat through Revegetation and Rangeland Management to promote sage grouse conservation in areas dominated by sagebrush.
  • Collaborative research partnership with ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory to develop revegetation techniques after removal of Russian olive removal from Montana and Wyoming riparian areas, including plains cottonwood establishment.
  • Testing of woody plants on a salt-affected site resulting in new salinity tolerance guidelines provided in Technical Note titled The Salinity Tolerance of 18 Trees and Shrubs Tested on a Heavy-Textured Soil in South-Central Montana

POLLINATOR HABITAT ENHANCEMENT

Restore and improve pollinator habitat

  • Selected and released six native forb species for use in pollinator plantings.
  • Testing the ratio of grasses to forbs in a seed mix to ensure adequate sustainable forb component in established stands.
  • Conduct alternate-row pollinator planting (planting grass and forbs in separate rows) and forb seeding date studies to test methods of increasing pollinator species establishment, persistence, and flowering abundance.
  • Montana Native Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Plantings highlights the importance of establishing nectar and pollen sources, shelter and breeding environments for pollinators and other beneficial insects.

PRODUCTION AGRICULTURE

Reduce soil erosion in cropland and improve productivity

  • On-going cover crop research investigating individual species, varieties, and mixes for improving soil health.
  • Developed 11 native species adapted to saline conditions for rehabilitating salt-affected areas.
  • Alternate-row plantings demonstrating the benefits of improved productivity with less input expense.
  • Seasonal Forage Quality of Five Tame Pasture Grasses on Dryland Pastures in Montana demonstrating the optimum nutritional value of common agronomic grasses over the growing season.
  • Dryland Pastures in Montana and Wyoming is a guide for farmers and ranchers to assist in species selection, seeding techniques, and grazing management.

INCREASED ENERGY DEMANDS

Reduce energy inputs with conservation plants

  • Critana thickspike wheatgrass and Rosana western wheatgrass have been seeded on tens of thousands of acres and act as carbon sinks in coal mine reclamation.
  • Creating Native Landscapes in the Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains provides landowners an option to reduce and conserve water, reduce air pollution, and decreased use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Selection of two nitrogen-fixing legumes that reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizer needed for good crop production.

Bridger Plant Materials Center
98 South River Rd
Bridger, MT 59014-9718
Telephone: 406-662-3579
Fax: 855-510-7028