Certify your landscape to pledge your support in protecting the health of the Gallatin River and native trout.
Each yard and landscape in Big Sky is part of the Gallatin River Watershed. The choices we make regarding our landscapes and business practices influence water quality, water quantity, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities within the Gallatin River Watershed and beyond.
Beautiful & easy to maintain
Healthier for children and pets
Creates habitat for fish, birds, and wildlife
Supports insect populations
Protects water quality
Fertilizers used in landscaping can be a significant source of excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Elevated levels of nitrogen and algae have been documented in the West Fork of the Gallatin River, and two of its tributaries, the Middle Fork and South Fork. Excess algae on stream bottoms can affect fishing, swimming, boating, and can lower oxygen levels, harming fish and their main food source, stream insects. Simple changes to every day landscaping practices can help prevent nutrient pollution.
Watering during the heat of the day wastes up to 65% of water through evaporation.
Utilize efficient irrigation practices to ensure that water is optimally delievered across your landscape with a minimum amount wasted.
Residential properties, commercial properties, and homeowners associations can all get certified. For Basic Certification, select a minimum of 2 landscape practices per category. For Gold Certification, select a minimum of 5 landscape practices per category.
If your property does not meet the certification criteria, utilize the Trout-Friendly resources below to learn more, or contact a landscaping professional who can help you achieve a trout-friendly landscape.
Landscape Design & Plant Selection
The plants and landscape features you choose determine the look of your landscape and how water-wise your landscape can be. Consider the characteristics of your site and select plants and landscape features for aesthetics, seasonal color, water requirements, fire safety and other objectives to achieve both beauty and functionality.
- Big Sky Water Wise Landscape Guide
- Firewise Guide to Landscape and Construction
- Visit the Community Stormwater Conservation Garden
- Visit the Crail Ranch Demonstration Garden
- Montana Native Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Plantings
- Fire-Resistant Plants for Montana Landscapes
A healthy soil base is the key to a water-wise landscape. Carefully prepared plant beds can reduce water usage by almost half. Good soil absorbs and holds moisture better and encourages plants to grow deep roots so they can access moisture even when topsoil is dry.
Practical Lawn Areas
In Big Sky, lawns are the biggest culprit for high water and chemical use. Therefore, it is the easiest part of your landscape to adopt trout-friendly practices including being practical with lawn size and choosing native, low maintenance, and drought-tolerant grass species.
Big Sky is within a closed basin, which means there is limited physical and legal groundwater and surface water available. Wasting water limits the amount available to you, the river, and future generations of people and wildlife. Utilizing efficient irrigation practices prevents overwatering and creates hearty landscapes that look great and can withstand dry conditions.
- Big Sky Water Wise Landscape Guide (pg 23-28)
- EPA WaterSense Watering Tips
- Apply for a rebate from the Big Sky Water Conservation Program
During rainstorms, snowmelt or irrigation, flowing water moves eroded soil, called sediment, to the Gallatin River via ditches, creeks and storm drains. Once in a creek or river, sediment buries aquatic organisms, smothers fish eggs, clogs fish gills and spawning gravels, and muddies clean waters. Sediment also carries fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. A trout-friendly landscape is able to absorb rainwater, snowmelt and irrigation to prevent soil erosion.
Gallery of Trout-Friendly Plants
Excess fertilizer can do more harm than good to your plants and the environment. Nitrogen that is not absorbed by plants will seep directly into groundwater or run off into nearby streams, rivers, ponds, or lakes. In addition to nitrogen, chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides from landscaping activities can be toxic to fish and wildlife, and can pose a threat to public health by contaminating groundwater, Big Sky’s source of drinking water. Using organic fertilizers like compost and planting native vegetation can reduce the need for chemicals and keep our rivers and drinking water clean.
- Big Sky Water Wise Landscape Guide (pg 17-20)
- Learn the Basics of Nutrient Pollution
- Schedule a Free Site Visit with Gallatin Invasive Species Alliance
For properties with water and/or wetlands on site, streamside buffers, such as tall native grasses or willows, act as a natural filter between lawns and nearby streams or ponds, preventing nutrients and other chemicals from reaching the surface water and help prevent erosion and sedimentation.