Ranchlands – Recreation – Forests

WHEN: April 4-5, 2017 (Tues-Wed)
WHERE: Dillon, Montana at​ University of Montana Western

It is time for us to come back together to continue to build our vision for the future for the High Divide Landscape, plan together how to achieve that vision, and work together to gain greater support for the local conservation efforts that all of you empower in your local communities.

Working together we can take the power of community based conservation to landscape-scale conservation outcomes.

All past participants of the High Divide Collaborative will be invited (federal and state agency representatives, local community leaders, ranchers and ranching networks, non-governmental organizations, scientists). We also encourage each of you to reach out to others who might have an interest in the region and our goals.




Participants in the High Divide Collaborative have identified 8 shared goals for conservation. Our common ground, our shared vision for the High Divide Landscape, is to conserve:

  • Ecological linkage among core habitat areas to conserve wide-ranging fish and wildlife populations that are resilient to climate change
  • A cultural legacy of traditional food sources, tribal treaty lands, and travel ways such as the Nez Perce, Continental Divide, and Lewis & Clark Trails
  • Working ranchlands that are central to communities, economy & way of life
  • Nationally important dispersed recreation lands and waterways where people enjoy nature
  • Clean and abundant water for headwaters fisheries, wildlife, healthy riparian communities, and human uses.
  • Intact, resilient sagebrush-steppe ecosystems that support sustainable ranching communities and are critical for many wildlife species, including greater sage grouse
  • Healthy forest lands managed for sustained economic, social and ecological values
  • Open land in the Wildland Urban Interface to protect life and property, reduce fire costs, and allow wildfire to play its natural role.

In the past we have met to talk about 4 of our 8 goals: wildlife connectivity, water conservation, sage land conservation, and wildfire threats to our communities and conservation of lands in the Wildland Urban interface to protect those communities.

Now we would like to come back together to create committees to work on those topics and to take a much deeper look into 3 more of our goals:

  • Conservation of the working ranchlands that are central to High Divide communities, economy and way of life,
  • Conservation of recreation resources and opportunities on land and water in the High Divide, and
  • Conservation of healthy forested lands for their ecological, social and economic values.

We agreed in our March 2016 meeting to form a representative steering committee. Heart of the Rockies Initiative will continue as convener and administrator for the High Divide Collaborative, but we hope to empower the Steering Committee to:

  1. plan Collaborative meetings
  2. form needed committees to advance Collaborative goals
  3. encourage stakeholder participation, and;
  4. ensure that stakeholder issues are fully considered.

​In an August call, we agreed to bring all interested parties together to act as steering committee members. We will very soon provide notice of a governance planning call to all of the interested partners to help in planning the upcoming workshops and committee work. We will make an abundant effort to gain good participation from all sectors in this planning. In particular, we anticipate that a core committee of parties with interest in each major topic will take the lead for that portion of the workshops.

For each of these conservation goals, we will work with interested stakeholders to set an agenda for discovery of what each goal means, pull together stakeholder views on desired futures, and begin to develop the conservation strategies needed to get to that future. We will contact representatives from the different stakeholder sectors in our Collaborative to help with the agenda for each topic. We will pull together speakers who know the topics well and can help us dig deeper into the issues. We will also provide maps and information to clearly display a picture of the current status of these key resources.

High Divide Landscape Conservation Design

Since our spring meeting the High Divide Landscape Conservation Design science team has been working to pull together information and spatial data that stakeholders can use to better inform development of collaborative conservation strategies. The intent is to provide stakeholders with all the current available High Divide information on each of the Collaborative’s primary resource goals. We will be providing relevant information in our April workshops.