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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Rolling Rivers Trailers

Loaded with several hundred pounds of sand and a self-contained tank for pumping and re-circulating water, bright blue utility trailers are ready to provide water education to Montanans. The Rolling River is a five by ten foot utility trailer with a six-inch deep trailer bed that is filled with sand (actually recycled plastic granules). A meandering river or two is scooped out running from one end to the other. Small figures of cows, horses, houses, a barn, corral and a parking lot with cars and farm equipment placed on top, form a simulated village. Trees, foliage and a few rocks line the riverbank. When water is turned on at the top of the watershed, it flows through the river and can be used to demonstrate a variety of water lessons including:

- River energy: Sprinkle a handful of alluvium at the top of the "watershed" and watch it be carried along in the water.

- Riparian areas:With the vegetation in place along the riverbank, the banks remain stable. Remove some of the foliage, and erosion occurs as water cuts into the banks. Turn the water on full force as in a flood situation and the riverbank begins to break down and collapses even faster. This demonstrates the principles of healthy versus unhealthy riparian areas.

- Non-point pollution: Rain (from a sprinkling can) on the parking lot above the river demonstrates how pollution is carried into streams. 

- Effects of diversion: Using PVC pipe to create irrigation ditches slows down the speed of the water. Stopping the water entirely by creating a dam effects other changes.

The Rolling Rivers Trailers were designed and initially used in Colorado.

The Montana program is based on a very successful effort in New Mexico. The Montana Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) purchased the trailers under a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation.


Montana Association of Conservation Districts

1101 11th Avenue

Helena, Montana 59601


Natural Resources Conservation Service

Montana State Office:

10 East Babcock Street

Federal Building, Room 443

Bozeman, Montana 59715-4704



Conservation District Bureau

Conservation District Specialist

, 406-444-3022

Conservation District Specialist

, 406-444-4253

Stream Permitting Coordinator

, 406-444-4340 

Oral History Program & 223 Grant Specialist

, 406-444-0520

Rangeland Resources Program Coordinator

, 406-444-6619

Water Reservations, Miles City

, 406-232-6359

Conservation District Specialist, Miles City

, 406-232-6359