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Eyesore attacked by landscaping volunteers

| May 11, 2005 12:00 AM

By STEVE KADEL Western News Reporter

An army of volunteers attacked the previously uninspired Flower Creek streamside near Rosauers on Saturday and began turning it into a native plant showcase.

The assault actually was launched a year ago when weed spraying began.

"It was a knapweed-infested eyesore," said Vicki Lawrence, who spearheaded the effort.

By Saturday evening, several species had been planted along the creek and a section of U.S. Highway 2 frontage. Woodchip mulch from Stimson's was spread along the corridor, giving the area a fresh new look.

Libby Revitalization Inc. is sponsoring the project. Funding for the first phase came from an $850 grant from the Montana Native Plant Society.

It was the group's only grant this year, said Jon Reny, a member of the society's Small Grants Committee. Nineteen other projects vied for the money.

Lawrence said spirea, mock orange, juniper, wild rose, potentilla, snowberry and serviceberry are among the hardy native plants to be included.

"We wanted plants that will survive in a non-irrigated setting," Lawrence said. "These are all drought tolerant."

She estimates watering will be needed during the first couple of years, but the plants will be on their own after that.

Financial contributions for the effort also have been received from the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Jason Rosauers estate, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

City of Libby personnel spent a day and a half preparing holes for shrubs to be planted in.

That followed clean-up work in the area by Boy

Scout Troop 70 and the Master Gardeners class at Lincoln County Campus of Flathead Valley Community College.

Libby High School biology students planted dogwood cuttings on both sides of the creek last week.

Betty Jo Wood of Libby Revitalization credited Lawrence with getting the project rolling.

"She came to me and said 'how about it?' It's all grant-funded, and it's a labor of love," Wood said.

Children and adults labored side-by-side during the weekend. Nicole Shaw ferried wheelbarrow loads of woodchips to those raking mulch. When she tipped the wheelbarrow up to unload, it stood nearly as tall as she did.

April Rainey of Libby worked contently by herself, carefully placing plants in the pre-dug holes and smoothing soil around their base. She was in her gardening element wearing black lace-up boots, a flowing cotton skirt and straw hat.

The two-dozen volunteers started at 8 a.m. Saturday and were ready for a hot dog and soft drink break at noon. Several walked down the stream bank to wash their hands in Flower Creek, and sprinkle some cooling water on their faces.

Kathy Sauby leaned on the rake she had been using to spread mulch and smiled at the morning's progress.

"This is going to be wonderful," she said.