Today the Environmental Law Institute in Washington D.C.
awarded the Andrew and Anne Laszlo family of Ennis with the 2010
National Wetland Award for Landowner Stewardship for their exceptional
and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation.
The Laszlos, owners of Granger Ranches in Madison County, have
permanently protected more than half of their 14,000-acre ranch and
restored or enhanced 510 acres of wetlands and 35,000 feet of stream
channel and riparian habitats. This is the largest wetland and stream
restoration project of its kind in the state of Montana.
“Restoring floodplain wetlands has a host of benefits, not the least of
which is storing vital runoff and ground water that discharges into
streams and rivers, maintaining flows during critical summer months”,
says Tom Hinz with the Montana Wetlands Legacy Partnership.
Over the past five years, the family has worked with federal, state, and
private conservation partners to protect and restore a major portion of
the O’Dell Creek headwaters, part of an 8,000-acre wetland complex that
is part of Montana’s largest watershed. The area was drained for
livestock forage production back in the 1950s. Since 2004, the
restoration effort has filled or plugged 16,000 feet of drainage
ditches, restored more than 500 acres of wetlands, and created 35,000
feet of stream channel and adjacent riparian habitat. Between 2005 and
2009, the number of bird species using the area during the breeding
season increased from 11 to 90.
The Laszlo family sees the restoration effort as part of a broader
vision that supports sustainable cattle ranching and provides habitat
for fish and wildlife. The commitment and dedication of the Laszlo
family has also inspired local conservation organizations, agricultural
producers, school groups, hunters and anglers, community members, and other landowners to become involved in wetland restoration.
Posted by Kaci Switzer