Acting Green in the Blackfoot River Valley
For most of us, greening our life-ways means a series of seemingly minor changes, such as setting a three-minute timer for the shower or leaving the car in the garage more often. But for ranchers in Montana’s legendary Blackfoot River Valley, it also means accepting a wrenching and somehow bizarre truth: No longer is their exquisite land valued most for the food it produces, but for its potential as a trophy home setting.
What’s a rancher to do?
Members of the Blackfoot Challenge, a non-profit coalition of ranchers, government and conservation NGOs, decided in the early 1970s that embracing conservation concerns represented a way to avoid getting priced out of their precious valley. The Challenge has forged a thriving community whose mission is to restore and safeguard watersheds and to devise ways to co-exist with the endless local parade of cougars, grizzlies, and even wolves.
At the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists (October 13-17), Seth Wilson, the Challenge’s wildlife program coordinator since its inception in 2002, said grizzly and wolf populations are increasing and, despite the challenges of coexistence, the news for wildlife in the Blackfoot is good.