Terrestrial Habitat Restoration Initiative for Vegetative Enhancement (THRIVE)

The Yaak Valley Forest Council’s THRIVE program fosters and coordinates partnerships that bring together land managers and wildlife biologists from the US Forest Service, US Fish Wildlife Service, and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to further wildlife habitat research and adaptive management. Currently, THRIVE is developing active solutions for the maintenance and restoration of habitat conditions favored by grizzly bears and Canada lynx. For over 15 years the Yaak Valley Forest Council has been working to create a restoration workforce and advocating for restorative forestry practices. The THRIVE huckleberry monitoring partnership is an extension of our work to create high- quality habitat and resilient forests in northwest Montana.

A grizzly bear sow with cubs.

Tailoring Timber Harvest Techniques for Huckleberry Restoration

The Yaak Valley Forest Council’s Forest Watch THRIVE program is designed to research and monitor vegetative response to land management treatments with an aim to create healthier, more resilient grizzly bear and lynx habitat. Identifying which treatments are most effective at promoting ideal vegetative conditions for wildlife persistence will contribute to recovery of these endangered species in the Kootenai National Forest.

Our THRIVE field crews monitor huckleberry production before and after treatment on harvest areas in the Three Rivers Ranger District. Monitoring plots are randomly selected within areas that receive a variety of treatments. Some areas will be logged, others will be thinned and followed with prescribed fire, and a few will receive only prescribed fire. Over the next decade, our crews will monitor these plots and document how the huckleberry plants respond. This work will inform future management decisions within grizzly bear habitat, where huckleberry is a critical food source.

The THRIVE partnership is blazing a new way forward and developing innovative approaches to conservation in the Kootenai National Forest and beyond. The protocols developed for this project have already become the USFS Region One standard for huckleberry monitoring.

Huckleberries in the Yaak Valley.