On Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, the mountains meet the prairies in a dramatic convergence of rocky cliffs abutting grassy hills. The result is one of the most biologically rich regions in the entire country. It's one of the last places where grizzly bears still venture out onto the open plains. And though herds of bison are all but gone, all animals found here by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, still roam free.
The greatest threat to the Front is subdivision of large ranches that maintain open space and habitat on private lands The low profit margins in agriculture increase the temptation to sell land at the high values offered by second home and recreational markets. Development of oil and gas deposits on private land also poses an increasing threat.
As in other places, subdivision threatens wildlife by fragmenting vital habitat. Grizzly bears use huge ranges on the Front – up to 250 square miles for males and their need for privacy can truly be hampered by dividing even a portion of a large ranch, as well as increase the odds of human-bear conflict. Scattered development also interrupts the migration of pronghorn, elk, and moose.
Goals & Solutions
Partnership is the strong foundation on which we’ve built an extremely successful conservation strategy. Although the mountainous portions of this region are largely public land, the grasslands remain dedicated largely to private ranching. The commitment of local landowners to good stewardship, to co-existing with wildlife, and to resisting development has made them extraordinary partners in this effort. The contributions of information, expertise, and funding by public agencies and non-profit organizations provide another essential link for community based conservation on the Front.
Our goal is to ensure that of all the plant and animal species here will thrive long into the future. We focus both on critical core habitat, and the essential links between public and private lands that enable animals to reach all the habitat they need throughout the changing seasons. To protect this special place, we work in concert with our partners to employ a suite of tools, ranging from direct purchase of land to securing conservation easements.
Our close partnership with the community has also resulted in unified efforts to effectively manage noxious weeds and influence public policy that support our conservation goals.