Project Description

The Challenge

Montana and much of the West has experienced a history of boom-and-bust development. In many cases this growth, or decline, was related to the rise and fall of natural resource industries. With the transition of this “old west” economy to a much more diverse “new west” economy, population growth and land development, while still subject to some fluctuations, has seen a much steadier rate of increase. In the past year alone, with the influx of people seeking escape from the Covid pandemic, growth rates have spiked with significant impacts on both private and public lands.

Many communities and counties are less than adequately prepared to plan for and effectively manage this growth. And the general public, while alarmed at the noticeable increase of newcomers, soaring home prices, and even increased pressure on public lands and waters, is often at a loss on what can be done. We believe it’s time to re-energize a robust growth management movement to effectively address these critical issues.

Our Response

Future West, in collaboration with a number of other organizations, is hosting a series of webinars on the most salient growth management topics facing the Northern Rockies. The goal is to inspire and inform local actions by both governmental and non-governmental entities that will more effectively address these challenges. We are producing on-line presentations featuring individuals with in-depth knowledge of planning, sustainable development and growth management issues – leaders in their fields who can foster a more complete understanding of the challenges and opportunities that come with growth and change.

These webinars will be presented on roughly a monthly basis and will be accessible to anyone anywhere to view and interact with featured presenters. While Future West is hosting these events, other organizations are invited to be co-sponsors and will be recognized during presentations.

Depending on the status of Covid-related concerns, this series may be followed by an in-person gathering of growth management activists to further explore these issues and to build better lines of communication and cooperation.


Rural Sprawl in the Northern Rockies and Its Impacts on Wildlife
Wednesday, March 10th at 11 am MST
Register Here:

Conservationists have come to recognize the critical importance of lower-elevation private lands to our wildlife legacy. However, it is in these landscapes where we are seeing explosive growth, with thousands of acres of open space and habitat developed every year. If that trend continues, how will the future of our wildlife and of our wildlife-related recreational activities be affected? Our speakers will share recent research on rural land development in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, and potential future trends. This big-picture analysis will be followed by a more in-depth look at how rural development can and is affecting wildlife and wildlife movements right here in Montana, and how good planning and design, along with prudent regulations, can minimize the impact of growth on wildlife
Speakers: Andy Hansen- Montana State University & Brent Brock – The Wildlife Conservation Society

Other topics in this series as currently conceived include:

How Do Patterns of Growth Affect Our Wallets?

• Exploring the Nexus Between Non-Regulatory and Regulatory Approaches to Conserving Rural Landscapes

• Preserving Our Agricultural Landscapes in an Era of Rapid Growth

• How Growth Management Can Affect Housing Affordability

• Replicating Traditional Neighborhood Design in New Urban Development

• How We Grow Affects the Health of You and Your Community

• The Importance of Downtowns to Community Well-being

• Can Cities and Counties Grow in a More Coordinated Manner?

• Keeping People Out of Harms Ways in Growing Rural Landscapes

• The Role of Historic Preservation in Creating Vibrant Communities

• Transforming Environmentally Degraded Sites into Useful Space

For more information, or to enquire about being a Co-Sponsor, please contact: / 406-587-2974