We woke up to our first snow of the season just a couple days ago. Winter is on its way, but it’s been a glorious fall in the Northern Rockies -- the perfect antidote to the raucous campaign season! Our suggestion for the next month until Election Day: turn off the TV and take a walk in the woods, sit by a river, stroll down your Main Street, or catch a cattle drive down a rural highway. We live in a fabulous place. Our aim is to keep it that way. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately:
Working Together to Conserve an Incredible Landscape
For nearly ten years, state and federal land management agencies and non-governmental groups, including Future West, have met regularly to collaborate on conservation projects in the Upper Henry's Fork Watershed. This ecologically important landscape borders the western boundary of Yellowstone Park. It is rich in wildlife and encompasses the headwaters of the storied Henry's Fork River. The group calls itself the Henry's Fork Legacy Project and works to help landowners conserve working lands, reduce wildlife–people conflicts, and provide tools to aid in thoughtful land use planning. Most recently, the group has been working with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to identify potential wildlife mitigation projects to aid in the safe passage of wildlife across Highway 20 which bisects the region. Several wildlife crossing are now being considered for this busy stretch of highway.
Maximizing the Impact of Collaboration
Save the date! Future West and Heart of the Rockies are partnering to host a workshop on community-based collaboration. We will spend the two days learning, sharing and listening to strategies to maximize the success and increase the impact of organizations embracing collaborative, community-based approaches to conservation. There is a lot to cover, but we are joined by a phenomenal planning committee made up of Gary Burnett of the Blackfoot Challenge, facilitator Julian Griggs, Don Elder from Training Resources for the Environmental Community, Shawn Johnson from the University of Montana, and Mindy Crowell from the Salmon Valley Stewardship. We hope to see you later this fall! Register online and contact Alice Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
News of Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage in Montana Papers
Future West continues its leadership role in Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage (MSWP), a coalition of non-profit organizations advocating for innovative solutions to maintain habitat connectivity and provide safe passage for Montana’s people fish, and wildlife. Dennis Glick and Renee Callahan of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation have just penned a guest editorial for MSWP noting that Montana now ranks second in the nation in the risk that a driver will hit a deer. The good news is there are proven solutions to this costly issue: wildlife underpasses, overpasses and systems that automatically detect wildlife and alert motorists. These measures are extremely effective, proven to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by over 85%, which save taxpayer dollars, and reduce injuries to both humans and wildlife.
Keeping Ecosystems Healthy Can Be Good for the Pocket Book
Future West and the Big Hole Watershed Committee are well into the inaugural year of their pilot Payment for Ecosystem Services Program. With a grant from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Future West has partnered with the Big Hole Watershed Committee to design a program that incentivizes land management projects to improve water quantity and quality in the Lower Big Hole River. This program differs from traditional incentive programs because it does not compensate landowners for the cost of a project, but rather places a value on water quality and quantity, and compensates landowners for reducing the amount of sediment entering the river or enhancing the natural floodplain function.