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Volunteers harvest willows as part of a Sunlight stream restoration project

Cody – Recently, a group of volunteers came together to help cut willows as part of a stream restoration project on section of Sunlight Creek northwest of Cody. The willow cuttings will be staked and replanted in the spring along a section of newly constructed stream channel and floodplain in a one-mile section of creek on the Sunlight Wildlife Habitat Management Area.

The project, which began in August, involves contractors digging out a new channel and constructing a floodplain to move Sunlight Creek away from high eroding banks and restore the stream to a functioning system. The much-needed improvements to the stream will help ensure public access Trail Creek and Painter Creek, address sedimentation issues and improve brook trout habitat.

Aquatic Habitat Biologist Laura Burckhardt said a total of 17 volunteers from the community and members of the East Yellowstone Chapter of Trout Unlimited helped harvest willows over several scheduled work days. “As part of the project, we plan to harvest and plant 20,000 willows, and thanks to the volunteers, many hands made fast work,” Burckhardt said. “This spring, willows will be staked and planted before the plants bud out but after the ground thaws.

Once established, willows will help stabilize the banks of the newly constructed stream channel and floodplain.”