Idaho State Director
Mark Menlove Idaho State Director © Dev Khalsa

Our People

Mark Menlove

State Director, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

  • Areas of Expertise

    conservation strategy, fundraising, government relations, outdoor recreation/business

Biography

Mark came to The Nature Conservancy after serving 14 years as the Executive Director for the Idaho-based Winter Wildlands Alliance. His recent accomplishments also include co-founding the Outdoor Alliance and the Idaho Outdoor Business Council. Prior to that, Mark served as President of the Utah Ski Association/Ski Utah and in communications positions with the U.S. Ski Team, 2002 Winter Olympic Games and Park City Ski Area.

Through these efforts, Mark has been a leading voice and advocate for federal and state conservation funding, public lands policy, climate science and engaging the outdoor recreation community in conservation. Mark feeds his passion for and commitment to Idaho’s wild places through fly fishing, whitewater rafting, backcountry skiing, camping and hiking, most often with his wife, Dana, and teenaged children Asa and Eliza.

Mark understands that as the nation’s fastest growing state, Idaho faces unprecedented challenges to the health of its lands, waters and wildlife. And he believes that The Nature Conservancy is uniquely positioned to meet these challenges. Mark earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Utah and a MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Arizona.

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October 8, 2020

Dear Friends,

The extraordinary challenges of the last six months leave me with a deeper appreciation for connection—to each other, community and nature. The palpable current running through these connections reminds me, as I imagine it does you, that we are all part of a bigger story, that our fate, our well-being, is inextricably tied to the world around us.

There are few wild places in Idaho where maintaining connection is more necessary, or tangible, than our northern-most reaches in Boundary County along the Canadian border.

In a few short weeks, grizzly bears in this north country will settle in for a season-long slumber after spending the fall feasting on wild berries. Grizzlies, like Canada lynx, moose and wolverines, depend on connected, undeveloped land in this expansive landscape to survive, thrive and maintain genetic diversity in their populations.

Between the Cabinet Mountains to the east and the Selkirk Mountains to the west, over a million acres of national forest land is separated by valley bottoms largely in private ownership. This patchwork of private farms and ranches, industrial forest lands and public lands provides critical connectivity for the iconic wildlife that call these mountains home. This link is especially crucial as intense population growth amplifies the threat of fragmentation from development in the wrong places.

Building on decades of work with private landowners to keep large tracts of land intact and connected, The Nature Conservancy in Idaho and Idaho Department of Lands recently closed on conservation easements with the Olson family and Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation that provide permanent protection on over 400 acres of forest lands in the heart of this vital landscape. These properties provide critical stepping-stones for wildlife traveling across the valley to find food and to respond to fire, drought and threats from a changing climate.

These easements mark the completion of an international landscape-scale conservation effort known as the Hall Mountain-Kootenai Valley Forest Legacy Project that protects some of the most critical undeveloped lands in this spectacular area and advances recovery efforts for white sturgeon and bull trout.

The project also provides vital support to the county’s rural economies dependent on the timber industry by keeping working forests working. With landowners actively managing healthy, resilient forests, outdoor recreation and tourism benefit as well.

Protecting this landscape while contributing to local economies is possible thanks to backing from the Forest Legacy Program which is in turn funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This important program conserves environmentally important forest areas threatened by conversion to non-forest uses.

Without the economic stimulus provided by the Forest Legacy Program, development and fragmentation would inevitably lead to critical wildlife linkages being permanently severed and the vital economy of North Idaho being weakened.

A note on LWCF because this is too big a story not to mention and celebrate—last month LWCF received permanent funding through historical, bipartisan legislation and the passing of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The GAOA provides full and permanent funding of $900 million each year for LWCF, an amount derived from offshore oil and gas revenues, not tax dollars.

Full and permanent funding of LWCF has been a goal of TNC for more than two decades. I hope you will join me in celebrating one of the biggest conservation wins in generations.

I look forward to bringing you more good news in the future as we continue to protect connectivity in Boundary County and across the state to ensure wildlife like grizzly bears and wolverine are here for future generations.

With renewed gratitude for connection,

Mark Menlove
State Director

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