A Montana 2021 Watershed Stewardship Award is being given to Heather Mullee Barber of the Bitter Root Water Forum. She has been the Executive Director of the group for 10 years, working with many people in the valley, including landowners, ranchers, farmers, land managers, city and county officials, river guides and anglers, schools and irrigation districts. The forum has grown to include a staff of three and an AmeriCorps member.

The Montana Watershed Coordination Council announced her award because, as the council said in a news release, "She has led the development of the Bitterroot Watershed Restoration Plan, built a successful community watershed education program and fostered the restoration, protection and improvement of 24 stream miles, providing direct benefits to the Bitterroot River and the communities that rely on it."

One of the most recent projects has been the "Roots Against Erosion" project at Hamilton's new city park, Skalkaho Bend. The BR Water Forum worked with Hamilton officials and others to develop the plan to slow an eastward channel movement of the Bitterroot River.

The Council also noted that during her time with the forum, over a dozen water quality and wildlife habitat improvement projects were completed, including streamside habitat, streambank stabilization, and other improvements on over 2,000 acres of private and public land. As part of the forum's community watershed education efforts, she helped create a tour for real estate agents and the public concerning water rights and irrigation development and school projects including co-host of the Earth Stewardship Program for seventh graders.

Heather will be honored this September during the Fall Watershed Tour along the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana, co-hosted by the Montana Watershed Coordination Council. Also honored this year are Jeff Ryan of the Lewis and Clark County Conservation District and the Blackfeet Nation's Ksik Stakii (Beaver) Project. Loren Ruport of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program in Malta is getting the Wetland Stewardship Award.

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