Take Your Seat At The Table October 25th!

Gallatin County, where Future West is located, is growing and changing, which brings challenges to our communities and citizens –  and also presents us with an opportunity to shape our future.  On October 25th thousands of Gallatin County residents will come together in small groups to break bread or share a cup of coffee to discuss how to collaboratively build and maintain strong, safe, and dynamic communities. 

This imaginative public square, called A Seat at the Table, is an initiative of Future West and the Bozeman Area Community Foundation. It is designed to generate new ideas, inspire bold solutions, and cultivate relationships for the betterment of communities county-wide.

A Seat at the Table is a simple concept – a county-wide conversation that is hosted by community members like you on one day. On Thursday, October 25, 2018, neighbors will come together and talk about their concerns, ideas, and hopes for the future of Gallatin County. This information will inform current efforts to plan for future growth in our communities and the county.

A Seat at the Table and all of of Future West’s initiatives in the Northern Rockies are based on the belief that successful communities have something in common – they make it possible for a wide variety of citizens to engage in identifying community challenges and solutions.
If you love your Northern Rockies community, our wide-open spaces, and our abundant wildlands and wildlife, please consider donating to Future West to enable us to continue to advance our community-based conservation goals.

Want to have your voice heard? Join us October 25th:

Future West Donor Salon: Steve Fuller, Yellowstone Winterkeeper

On Thursday May 24th, Future West was honored to host internationally acclaimed photographer and writer Steven Fuller. His breathtaking photographs and powerful words bear witness to his passion for our planet’s wild places, but also reveal that his heart is firmly planted in Yellowstone – where he has served as Winterkeeper for the past 45 years. You may have seen him and his work on Mountain Journal, in National Geographic, on the evening news, or featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

Attendees came out to Bozeman’s Story Mansion in the evening to meet Steve Fuller in person, where he shared a beautiful slideshow from his tenure as Winterkeeper in Yellowstone National Park. Narrating his time in the Park, with a journey across the seasons and spanning decades of birth and rebirth, we were fortunate to hear Steve’s retelling of his experiences, alongside captivating imagery. Thank you to all who came out to our event and for your generous support of Future West. You all truly made the evening a wonderful success.

Northern Rockies Successful Communities Initiative

Future West is excited to share with you a hot off the computer visual concept paper we created for our new Successful Communities initiative (link here: Successful Communities Wireframe). We recently convened a gathering of individuals who had participated in the “Successful Communities Process” — a series of community visioning sessions held around the region in the early 1990s. Participating communities were in transition from resource extraction based economies to amenity “New West” economies. It seemed to the group that the timing could be right to re-engage these same communities and others that are once again struggling with issues related to too much growth, or not enough.

Scroll though the site’s visuals to get a sense of how we will facilitate a new round of Successful Community Dialogues. Let us know what you think! After hosting our “Sustaining the New West: Conservation Challenges – Conservation Opportunities” conference in December, we believe that now more than ever, a regional 21st Century Successful Communities initiative is needed and wanted.

Sustaining the New West: Speaker Presentations

As promised, below are the presentations of our speakers from the November 29th Sustaining the New West Conference. We are delighted to share their work with you. As with any source, please cite appropriately if you use any of the information in your work. To view the PDFs, scroll over the image and click the arrows to navigate the pages of each speaker’s presentation.

Sustaining the New West: Conservation Challenges – Conservation Opportunities


Defining the New West – Todd Wilkinson, Mountain Journal

Key Note: Managing Growth in the New West – Ralph Becker, Former Mayor of Salt Lake City

Session 1: Growth Trends

Setting The Stage: Growth Trends in the Northern Rockies – Dr. Ray Rasker, Headwaters Economics

Growth at the Local Level – Randy Carpenter, Future West

Outdoor Recreation and Public Lands – Kathy Rinaldi and Brooke Regan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Session 2: Growth Implications

Water, or a Lack Thereof, in the New West – Laura Ziemer, Trout Unlimited

Sprawling Wildlife into Wildlife Habitat – Dr. Andy Hansen, Montana State University

Our Playground is Their Home: Recreation and Wildlife – Dr. Sarah Reed, Wildlife Conservation Society

The Elephant in the Room: Climate Change – Dr. Steve Running, University of Montana

Session 3: Opportunities

Fostering Sustainability at the Community Level – Skye Schell, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

Bringing Towns and Counties Together to Plan for the Future – Chad Phillips, Routt County Planning Department

Building Drought Resilience in the Upper Missouri Watershed – Ann Schwend, Montana Department of Natural Resources

Creating Safe Wildlife Passage Across Wyoming’s Highways – Chris Colligan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Reconciling Conflicts Between Recreationists and Wildlife – Morgan Valliant, Missoula Parks and Open Space Department

Morgan Valliant, Conservation Lands Manager, Missoula Parks and Open Space Department

I have lived in Western Montana and North Idaho for over 20 years. During this time, I earned an B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Montana and an M.S. degree in Botany, with an emphasis in Plant Community Ecology, from Washington State University. In Western Montana, I’ve worked a variety of jobs including researching novel habitat restoration techniques, organizing local landowners groups for invasive species management, ecological consulting on private property, and whitewater raft guiding. For the past decade I’ve have served as the Conservation Lands Manager for the City of Missoula. Missoula’s Conservation Lands Program is responsible for management of all natural, cultural and recreational resources on over 4200 ac. of City-owned public natural areas. Across the Intermountain West, public appetite for recreation is seemingly insatiable and managing natural areas adjacent to communities known for outdoor-recreation can be difficult. Balancing human-caused impacts with habitat conservation in Missoula involves strong partnerships, planning, education, and good-old fashioned elbow grease. My presentation will focus on lessons learned while managing high-use public Open Space and will highlight several projects Missoula is undertaking to curb recreational impacts on Conservation Lands

Website- Missoula’s Conservation Lands Management Plan

Mt. Jumbo’s Forest Management Plan on Critical Elk Winter Range

2015 Inventory and Condition Assessment of Trail Systems on Missoula’s Conservation Lands


Ann Schwend, Water Planner at Montana Department of Natural Resources, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Ann’s circuitous career path includes plant research, landscape restoration, land use and natural resource planning. She also spent many years as a CD supervisor and watershed coordinator in the beautiful Ruby Valley. Since 2008 she has worked as a water resource planner for MT DNRC in the Upper Missouri and Clark Fork Basins. She is currently leading the state’s efforts to build drought resilience in the Missouri Headwaters Basin as part of the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP). She is passionate about working with communities to bring science and people together to solve local resource challenges and building the connections to improve watershed resilience across broad landscapes.


Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator, Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Chris Colligan is GYC’s Wildlife Program Coordinator, based out of Jackson. Currently, efforts around grizzly bear connectivity issues, conflict reduction and protecting core habitat are the focus of Chris’ position. Chris enjoys finding on-the-ground solutions for that prevent wildlife from being killed on our roadways and solving conflicts that increase social tolerance for species like grizzly bears and wolves.

Prior to the GYC, Chris worked on another contentious issue for Wyoming as the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Brucellosis Information and Education Specialist in Jackson. Chris grew up near Grand Rapids, Michigan and attended Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and minored in Public Relations. He worked for the Illinois Natural History Survey, shortly after college, researching hunter opinions and attitudes towards wildlife management. Chris left the Midwest for the recreational opportunities available in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Here he pursues his outdoor interests, which include hiking, hunting, fly-fishing, snowboarding and wildlife watching.


Chad Phillips, Routt County Planning Director, Steamboat Springs, CO

Chad Phillips A.I.C.P., has 35 years of experience in various fields of land use, including US
Army cartographer/terrain analyst, mining reclamation specialist, and, most recently, public
sector planner.  In 1998, he was hired as a senior planner for Routt County, Colorado and, since
2007, proudly serves as the director of planning. Chad considers the Routt County Planning
Department an ideal place to work because of the community’s goals to blend limited/managed
development with preservation of the natural environment and maintenance of the area’s
western rural character.  Although his official title is “planner,” Chad sees himself as more of a
preservationist who uses land use plans and zoning and subdivision regulations as tools. 
Chad says his eight minute commute to work is filled with gratitude while gazing at the
Steamboat Ski mountain and Flat Tops Wilderness.  His priority is to spend quality time with his
wife and two children. Any remaining free time involves skiing, fishing, softball, disc golf,
coaching youth baseball, and building home speakers.


Skye Schell, Executive Director, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance

Skye Schell is a Jackson resident with a decade of experience in conservation. Before serving as Executive Director, Skye led the Alliance’s Civic Engagement program and Conservation Leadership Institute for three years, building a powerful base of community and political support for conservation.

Skye’s love for wildlife and wild places began as a child learning about nature, fishing, and hunting from his parents and grandparents and in the Boy Scouts. Growing up in Virginia and Texas, he watched the devastation of unchecked suburban and commercial sprawl destroy nearby forests and wildlife, and is dedicated to fighting against a similar fate for Jackson Hole.

Skye attended college at Rice University in Houston and worked as a backpacking guide at the Boy Scouts’ Philmont high adventure base in northern New Mexico where he fell in love with the Rockies. He then worked in human services and housing back East: refugee resettlement in Virginia, advocacy in a soup kitchen, and finding permanent homes for people living on the streets of New York City.

Before coming to the Alliance, Skye spent six years working for two land trusts in Washington. He led community engagement projects with Tribes and rural communities on the Olympic Peninsula, smart growth policy advocacy to protect farmland in the suburbs, and community-based projects like new community gardens with refugee families. In this work, and by volunteering on political campaigns, Skye gained a wide range of experience in both developing good conservation policy and building the necessary community support to pass it.

Skye served on the board of the Teton County Housing Authority and is a board member of housing advocacy group ShelterJH. When he isn’t at the Alliance, he can be found hiking, hunting, running, skiing, climbing, fishing, and enjoying our wild places with his dog Luna.


Dr. Steven W. Running, Emeritus Regents Professor, Running Emeritus Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group Dept. of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana

Steven W. Running received his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology from Colorado State University, and has been with the University of Montana, Missoula since 1979, where he is a University Regents Professor of Global Ecology. His primary research interest is the development of global and regional ecosystem biogeochemical models integrating remote sensing with bioclimatology and terrestrial ecology. He is the Land Team Leader for the NASA Earth Observing System, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, and is responsible for the EOS global terrestrial net primary production and evapotranspiration datasets. He has published more than 300 scientific articles and two books. He was a co-Lead Chapter Author for the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment. He currently Chairs the NASA Earth Science Subcommittee, and is a member of the NASA Science Advisory Council. Dr. Running was a chapter Lead Author for the 4th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Dr. Running is an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, has been designated a Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information, and in 2014 was designated one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in Geosciences. He has been honored with the E.O.Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award, and received the W.T.Pecora award for lifetime achievement in Earth remote sensing from NASA and U.S.Geological Survey. In the popular press, his essay in 2007, “The 5 Stages of Climate Grief” has been widely quoted.


Website: Colorado State University

Dr. Sarah Reed, Director of Applied Conservation Sciences for the Americas Program, Wildlife Conservation Society

Dr. Sarah Reed is the Director of Applied Conservation Science for the Americas Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. In this role, she supports WCS field staff to connect science to conservation action, ensuring that our conservation strategies have a robust scientific foundation and that our research is translated effectively to measurable conservation outcomes. Sarah is also an Affiliate Faculty member in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University, where she leads a team of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and research associates to investigate how land development and human activities affect wildlife and biodiversity. Sarah currently serves as Vice President for Programs of the Society for Conservation Biology and co-leads the Conservation Development Working Group at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability. In her free time, Sarah enjoys growing and cooking food, traveling and recreating with her husband and dogs, and volunteering as a foster parent and mentor for at-risk youth.

Website: WCS North America program
Website: Colorado State University

Laura Ziemer, Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor, Trout Unlimited

Laura Ziemer has worked on collaborative, water-saving projects with agricultural producers, watershed groups, and federal and state agencies for almost two decades. Laura started Trout Unlimited’s (TU’s) water program by establishing TU’s Montana Water Project office in 1998. She has helped grow TU’s water work to nine western states to restore and maintain streamflows for healthy trout rivers. She has worked to create more state and federal funding for collaborative conservation work, through such vehicles as the Farm Bill, SECURE Water Act, and Army Corps’ funding. She currently serves as TU’s Senior Counsel and Water Policy Advisor.

Ms. Ziemer served as a judicial clerk to Honorable Barabara J. Rothstein of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. She is a 1990 graduate of the University of Michigan, graduating cum laude from the Law School while earning a Master’s Degree in Resource Ecology with honors from the School of Natural Resources. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Bozeman, Montana.


Renee Callahan, Senior Policy Officer, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

With a background in environmental science, management, and law, Renee lends her legal expertise in administrative processes, legislative language and judicial rulings to CLLC’s policy work, with the goal of promoting public policies that facilitate ecological connectivity and large landscape conservation.

While at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, Renee specialized in conservation planning and coastal marine resources management, with a focus on habitat connectivity and climate change. She has over a decade of professional legal experience working on federal regulatory law and public policy issues in Washington, D.C.

Prior to enrolling at Bren, Renee was a Partner with the law firm of Lawler, Metzger, Milkman & Keeney, LLC, and served as an Attorney Advisor for the Honorable Joseph E. McGuire within the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the U.S. Department of Justice.


Dr. Andy Hansen, Ecology Professor, Montana State University

Andrew Hansen is Professor in the Ecology Department and Director of the Landscape Biodiversity Lab at Montana State University. He teaches macroecology to undergraduates and landscape ecology to graduate students. His research focuses on interactions among biodiversity, climate change, and land use, with an emphasis on landscape management and protected areas. He received a Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Dr. Hansen was a post-doctoral scientist in landscape ecology at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and with the Scientific Committee on Problems in the Environment (SCOPE) in France. He then joined the faculty of Oregon State University, where Dr. Hansen studied ecological approaches to forestry. At Montana State University, he is focusing on rates of land use change and consequences for protected areas such as Yellowstone National Park. Results from Yellowstone provided the basis for comparative study of land use change surrounding several nature reserves and biodiversity within reserves for six greater ecosystems around the world. Dr. Hansen also led a national study of global change effects on forest biodiversity as part of the US Assessment of Climate Change and Variability. He is currently studying vulnerability of national parks to land use and climate change across the United States. His work uses a combination of remote sensing, computer simulation and field studies. This research has been funded primarily by NASA, US Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture, conservation organizations, and the timber industry.


Kathy Rinaldi – Idaho Conservation Coordinator

Kathy is the Idaho Conservation Coordinator for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition where she directs the Idaho campaigns and is the program lead for GYC’s recreation project. Prior to her work at GYC, Kathy was a two-term Teton County, Idaho Commissioner where she helped lead an effort to create a new (post boom) comprehensive plan focused on sustainability. She was appointed by Gov. Otter and served on Idaho’s Roadless Commission. Prior to her election in 2008, Kathy was the Executive Director of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development and advocated for the responsible development and sustainable use of the natural resources in Teton Valley, Idaho. Kathy is a former Peace Corps Volunteer and National Outdoor Leadership School instructor. Kathy and her husband enjoy their time on the slopes, rivers and trails with their two boys.


Brooke Regan – Special Projects Organizer, Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Brooke Regan is organizing a project for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to examine outdoor recreational use and conservation goals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Whether studying pine beetle outbreaks in Colorado, grizzly bear food habits in Montana, or the values of modern recreation and conservation in the Greater Yellowstone, Brooke loves finding answers relevant to


Randy Carpenter, Project Director, Future West

Randy Carpenter Randy Carpenter has spent many years working with community leaders in the Northern Rockies, helping them understand the challenges that come with growth and change, and tailor locally-based solutions to those challenges. Before joining Future West in 2014, Randy was a community planner in Iowa, followed by 13 years with the Sonoran Institute’s Northern Rockies Program. He holds an undergraduate degree in history and a graduate degree in urban and regional planning, both from the University of Iowa.


Dr. Ray Rasker, Executive Director, Headwaters Economics

Ray has written widely on rural development and the role of environmental quality in economic prosperity, and is well known in policy circles in the U.S. and Canada. He has a Ph.D. from the College of Forestry, Oregon State University, M.Ag. from Colorado State University, and B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Washington.


Todd Wilkinson, Journalist & Founder, Mountain Journal

Todd Wilkinson is an American journalist and author proudly trained in the old-school tradition of asking tough questions and pressing for honest answers. He is the founder of Mountain Journal. Since he began as a violent crime reporter with the legendary City News Bureau of Chicago, Wilkinson’s work has appeared in a wide variety of national publications, ranging from National Geographic and Christian Science Monitor to The Washington Post and many others (on topics of environment, art, culture and business) in-between.

Ralph Becker – Keynote Speaker, Sustaining the New West

Ralph Becker, Former Minority Leader of the Utah State House of Representatives, 34th Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT

Ralph Becker is 43-year resident of Salt Lake City where served two terms as mayor (2008-2015). He also served in the Utah State Legislature as a member of the House of Representatives for 11 years (1996-2007). For most of that tenure, he was in legislative leadership positions, including five years as House Minority Leader. In 2015, Ralph served as President of the National League of Cities. In his political career, Ralph focused attention on serving the public interest through solution-orienting, inclusive governance practices. He became known for his work improving conditions for the LGBT community around discrimination; sustainability practices and protection of lands and resource; and changes to improve equity in education, access to the outdoors, and community development.

In 2017, Ralph holds a Leadership in Government Fellowship with the Open Society Foundation.

Prior to his legislative service, he was Utah State Planning Coordinator under Governor Scott Matheson, and co-launched a consulting firm (Bear West) for 22 years specializing in community and resource management planning, environmental assessment, public lands, and public involvement. Ralph was an adjunct professor in the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning, teaching classes each semester in Environmental Planning and Law, Public Involvement and Governance, Public Lands Planning and Management, and related courses and lectures. Ralph holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and from the University of Utah he holds a JD and a MS in planning. He is married to Kate Kopischke, has two sons and grandchildren, and enjoys many forms of outdoor recreation.

Sustaining the New West – Agenda


November 29, 2017

Emerson Cultural Center, Bozeman, MT

  • 8:30 Welcome – Dennis Glick, Future West
  • 8:45 Defining “The New West” – Todd Wilkinson, Mountain Journal
  • 9:00 Key Note – Managing Growth in the New West – Ralph Becker, Former Mayor of Salt Lake City
  • 9:30 Setting the Stage: Growth Trends in the Northern Rockies, Ray Rasker, Headwaters Economics, Growth at the Local Level, Randy Carpenter, Future West, Outdoor Recreation and Public Lands, Kathy Rinaldi and Brooke Regan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition
  • 10:10 Break
  • 10:30 Growth Implications:
    • Water, or a Lack Thereof, in the New West – Laura Zeimer, Trout Unlimited
    • Highways and Wildlife – Impacts and Opportunities – Renee Callahan, Center for Large Landscape Conservation
    • Sprawling into Wildlife Habitat – Dr. Andy Hansen, Montana State University
    • Our Playground is Their Home – Recreation and Wildlife – Dr. Sarah Reed, Wildlife Conservation Society, Colorado State University
    • The Elephant in the Room – Climate Change – Dr. Steve Running, University of Montana
  • 12:15 Lunch
  • 1:00 Overcoming Conservation Challenges:
    • Fostering Sustainability at the Community Level – Skye Schell, Executive Director Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance
    • Bringing Towns and Counties Together to Plan for their Future – Chad Phillips, Planning Director, Routt County CO
    • Building Drought Resilience in the Upper Missouri Watershed, Ann Schwend, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
    • Creating Safe Wildlife Passage Across Wyoming’s Highways – Chris Colligan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition
    • Reconciling Conflicts Between Recreationists and Wildlife – Morgan Valliant, Missoula Parks and Open Space Department
  • 3:00 Break
  • 3:20 Tying it All Together – Todd Wilkinson with Panelists
  • 4:30 Closing Remarks
  • 4:45 Reception