The Shepherd Project

Situated 30 miles northeast of Billings, Mont., the Shepherd Project is a 300-acre property bordering the Yellowstone River, which houses the headquarters of Floating Island International. Our mission is to increase human understanding of how we can live more compatibly within our ecosphere and in graceful synergy with wildlife.

Science has shown the impact of humans on natural carbon and nitrogen cycles; specifically, the resulting hyper-evolution or disappearance altogether of species of mammals, birds, fish and other wildlife. Our hope is that our efforts will mediate-and optimally reverse-this trend.

Fishing on the Shepherd Research Property

At the Shepherd Project, we have adapted our land management practices to improve the habitat for ground-nesting wild birds, increase the organic content of the soil by growing perennials and we avoid using chemicals where we can. Our current primary focus, however, is the development of a series of wetlands.

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Naturally-occurring floating wetlands are made of peat or other plant material, and kept afloat primarily by gas produced by microbes within the island. Those same microbes, along with the plants and their root systems growing on islands, pull unwanted nutrients from the waterway, cleaning the water and creating optimal habitats for native species.

At the Shepherd Project, we’re putting “our money where our mouth is” and practicing the kind of stewardship we are promoting around the world. Approximately one-third of our total acreage is in the process of being converted into a gigantic water filter in the form of ponds and canals where we launch and monitor BioHaven® floating treatment wetlands. We are seeing biomimetics in action as pollutants are being mined directly from our waterways.

Just as the Shepherd Project is utilizing floating islands to clean water, we are also fostering optimal habitats for fish and wildlife. These include yellow perch and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, ground-nesting birds, such as pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge, as well as white-tail deer and over 100 species of other birds.

Wetlands on the Shepherd Ranch property