BLACKFOOT CHALLENGE PRESENTED WITH
NATIONAL STEWARDSHIP AWARD FROM
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Seeley Lake, MT Steve Williams, Director of the US Fish and
Wildlife Service, presented a Watershed Stewardship Award for outstanding leadership in
conservation to Ovando rancher Jim Stone, Chairman of the Blackfoot Challenge.
Williams, who flew to Montana to present the award, was also attending a workshop held
by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Blackfoot watershed. Using the Blackfoot
Challenge as an example, the workshop focused on building conservation partnerships.
"The Blackfoot Challenge is doing the kind of landowner-led conservation we need
to be promoting nationwide," said Williams. "Leaders in government and
non-profit organizations must work in partnership with private landowners to ensure that
healthy habitats and wildlife populations are here for future generations."
"Its all about partnerships," Stone said. "This is the best thing
we can do for our ranch and its the best thing we can do for the valley."
The National Conservation Partnerships in Practice Workshop was hosted by the
Blackfoot Challenge at Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake. Participants from around the
country gathered in the Blackfoot Valley to learn first-hand about the success of the
Blackfoot Challenge partnerships and how the Blackfoot River watershed effort could be
duplicated throughout the nation.
"The Blackfoot Challenge is a shining example of how partnerships can and should
work," Williams added.
Participants in the workshop learned how the Blackfoot Challenge was founded, the
successes and failures of the Blackfoot Challenge, and reasons for its continued success.
"Local leadership is such an integral part of the Blackfoot Challenge and one of
the main reasons for our continuing success," said Tina Bernd-Cohen, Executive
Director of the Blackfoot Challenge.
The Blackfoot Challenge is a grassroots organization that was formally chartered in
1993. It was organized to coordinate management of the Blackfoot River, its tributaries
and adjacent lands. Its membership consists of private landowners, representatives from
federal and state agencies, local government officials and corporate landowners.
The mission of the Blackfoot Challenge is to coordinate efforts to protect the natural
resources and rural lifestyle of the Blackfoot River Valley for present and future
generations. This grassroots effort provides a forum for landowners, agencies, and
conservation groups to sit together at the same table, exchange ideas, and share
experiences. Since 1990, successful projects have included 196 habitat restoration
projects, noxious weed eradication, river recreation projects and thousands of acres of
conservation easements on private property important to the Blackfoot River
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"Better Communities Through Cooperation"
Tina Bernd-Cohen, Executive Director
PO Box 563, Helena, MT 59624
Ph: (406) 442-4002; Fax: (406) 442-4114