According to the Nature Conservancy (2010):
•Wildlife and natural beauty abound in the crown of the continent
•This is a 10 million acres of the most intact wild-land that can be found anywhere in the entire continent
•Spans from Montana to Canada
•This area boosts of nature conservation at such an advanced level that no species has been recorded as going extinct in two decades
•It provides an essential home range for the area's wildlife
•Its also a key intersection that connects vital habitat in the Glacier National Park, the Salmon-Selway wilderness area, the Bob Marshall wilderness area, Swan valley and Rocky Mountain Front
•An essential piece of this vast and natural mosaic is the Montana Legacy Project.
•This conservations is at a scale that makes a difference between some species' survival and extinction
•Largest purchase of private conservation land and is also transforming the future of nature's conservation
Reasons for conservation
Inspiration for the Montana Legacy Project- Lewis's and Clark's travel
They described Montana as " quite simply overwhelming"
•Northern Rockies' ragged peaks dwarfed the genteel swells that are the Blue Ridges of Virginia
•The forests stretched into the horizon
•Rivers teemed with fish
•Valleys inhabited by thriving native cultures
•The landscape and creatures were beyond imagination
•The biggest threat to this marvel of nature is the subdivision and development of the area. • The railroad over time had sold its holdings to other parties: settlers, ranchers and timber companies. •This is especially the case in the river valleys that connect the higher elevation lands. (The Nature Conservancy 2010)
The Montana legacy project is comprised more than 310,000 acres purchased in the Crown by the conservancy
• Formerly owned by the Plum Creek Timber Company.
• It is an effort to eliminate patchwork of public and private ownership that fractures habitat
• This protects the vital link in the habitat that is needed by the wildlife for breeding, food and also to adapt to the impacts presents by climate change (The Nature Conservancy 2010)
Rocky mountain front
•Healthy prairies as well as wetlands that support the highest population density of grizzly bears in all of the lower 48 states
•Achieved through partnership with local ranchers
•Land is preserved for both wildlife as well as family agriculture
Black foot watershed
• Community-based preservation of low-elevation valleys and wetlands that is vital for wildlife through 30 years of conservation
•Black foot community project- led by Blackfoot challenge and the valley residents
A new Era in Conservation
•The nature conservancy is attributed with transforming the future of nature preservation in the West
•Bought 310,586 acres of commercial timberland and brought it under the conservation of umbrella.
•Conservation should go beyond the metrics of conserving a single river valley or as an artificial political boundary to be undertaken at an ecosystem level
•The Crown of the continent presents the best place to launch this transformative vision
•Develop partnerships that are community based so as to respond to development pressure that are intensifying
•Provide owners of land with conservation tools and stewardship-includes conservation agreements
•Landscape-scale protection as well as restoration- improve the habitat as well as benefits the local community
Benefits of the Montana Legacy Project
•310,000 acres of forests land under conservation connecting millions of acres of public land
•Conservation of 640 miles of free flowing streams- also used for cold water fisheries
•Assures access to essential habitat spanning hundreds of miles for the Grizzly bears, wolverines, bull trout and Canada Lynx.
•Sustainable forestry- provides jobs for the communities which are timber-dependent
• Permanent protection of the area providing public access for outdoor recreation activities.
NB: The Montana Legacy Project epitomizes a new brand of nature conservation focusing on protecting large, healthy landscapes for the people as well as for the wildlife (Beckmann, Clevenger & Huijser 2010).
This represents a fresh approach to conservation efforts. The project in deed sets the standards in the future of preserving nature. This is a future where science, innovation, collaboration and commitment can produce unprecedented results in the efforts of conserving the environment today as well as for generations to come.