Conservation in Southwest Montana has long been dominated by one big name: Yellowstone. What many may not realize is that the vitality of Yellowstone’s magnificent wildlife depends on the tens of thousands of acres that lie outside the park boundaries. Its broad grasslands, sagebrush steppe, and rich mosaic of wetlands of the Centennial and Big Hole Valleys and the rich natural diversity of the High Divide provide vital habitat for wildlife as varied as grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and pronghorn. It's home to moose graceful Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes, and Greater Sage-grouse. It's here that the mighty Missouri River is born and fed by a network of clean streams and rivers.Populations of threatened Arctic grayling still spawn in the waters of the Centennial and the Big Hole Valleys. Equally important, the region provides vital links for wildlife that must migrate or disperse across a very broad landscape to remain resilient – into Central Idaho and on to Canada. Partnership with private landowners and public land managers is a key to our success here.
The pressure to development threatens both the wildlife and the traditional family ranches of the region. It disrupts wildlife movement and compromise natural processes, such as fire, that keep the land healthy.
Goals and Strategy
Our goal is to ensure a viable future for wildlife, for clean water, and for family ranches by conserving the natural connections between parks, private land, and wilderness across state and national boundaries. We couple land protection, community partnerships, and science-based stewardship and restoration to achieve success that will endure for the long-termOur approach is to support voluntary, private land conservation and stewardship. Our tools include conservation easements, land acquisition, stewardship agreements, and weed abatement projects.
Science and restoration are also key elements of our work. Our projects include the use of prescribed fire to restore balance to systems such as the rare Centennial Sandhills; re-vegetation of stream sides to improve habitat for Westslope cutthroat trout and Arctic Grayling; and experiments aimed at revitalizing aspen groves.
The Centennial Sandhills Preserve shelters a community of shifting dunes that support a number or rare plants.