The mountains, valleys, and streams of the High Divide Headwaters constitute a biologically rich and intact landscape that serves as a critical wildlife linkage between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the east and the Crown of the Continent to the north. The High Divide Headwaters remains a working wilderness of multi-generational ranches intermixed with public lands and protected areas.
The streams and wetlands of this sweeping landscape are literally the life-blood of people and wildlife: they feed the rivers that sustain wildlife, supply drinking water, grow food, and provide places for both inspiration and recreation. However, they face a number of threats, such as climate change, development, and increasing demand for water.
Fortunately, there is still time to secure its future, something that is unusual in a world where wide, open spaces like the High Divide are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. Through conservation easements, TNC has protected more than 60 percent of the private land in the Centennial Valley, and continues expanding that protection across the High Divide. With our innovative management incentives, we are working to protect and sustain another 50,000 acres of sagebrush and grassland habitat.
Across the High Divide we are also implementing community-based conservation projects for water, forest, and sagebrush grasslands, and developing effective climate change solutions. From restoring Montana’s critical watersheds to rescuing forests and securing our sagebrush ecosystems, our scalable approach and strategies in the High Divide are designed to support nature and guard against long-term threats for wildlife and our local communities.
Through innovative science and productive partnerships, our freshwater program is applying leading water conservation strategies among Montana’s most imperiled watersheds. As growing demand for water exceeds the diminishing supply, these science-based strategies restore drought and flood resilience to river and wetland habitats in order to provide ample clean water to wildlife and people.
The intermountain valleys of the High Divide Headwaters support intact expanses of sagebrush grassland, which serve as a stronghold to wildlife that depend on sagebrush such as the threatened greater sage-grouse. With partners, the Conservancy is providing habitat stewardship and protection options to landowners to help keep it that way. Through conservation easements and innovative management incentives, we are working to protect and sustain more than 50,000 acres of sagebrush and grassland habitat.
FOREST AND WILDLIFE CONNECTIVITY
Forests represent less than 15 percent of the High Divide Headwaters, but provide habitat and important migration corridors for most of our large fauna, including grizzly bear, moose, elk, and wolves. Unprecedented fires and insect outbreaks driven by climate change and a century of fire suppression threaten major losses of these precious forests over the next ten years. The Conservancy works to transform these landscapes by improving the scale, pace, and quality of forest restoration in the High Divide Headwaters region. From securing thousands of acres of conservation easements to utilizing prescribed fire, our collaborative on-the-ground forest management projects aim to preserve key wildlife migration corridors and maintain the health of our most precious forests.