Here in the Northern Rockies and Prairies, we have a long history of successfully protecting western landscapes and wildlife by advocating for wildlife habitat as an important use of western public lands. Whenever issues impact the wildlife and the landscapes of the West, we will work with our affiliates and partners to find a sound, common-sense solution that represents the voices and views of the National Wildlife Federation's members and supporters and that benefits both wildlife and the land.
Restoring Bison: The National Wildlife Federation is working to restore wild bison to native prairie habitat across millions of acres of public land in north-central Montana. Saving bison from extinction was one of America’s earliest conservation successes, but we only saved the animal—not its ecological function. Nearly all the bison in America today exist in small captive herds in parks and refuges—or, most commonly, are privately owned as livestock. The National Wildlife Federation is committed to restoring a significant herd of truly wild bison to Montana’s million-acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge as part of a broader vision—shared by many partners—of creating a multi-million-acre prairie reserve encompassing the refuge and the millions of acres of adjacent public lands.
Partnering for Beavers: Beavers may be our most important partner in protecting and restoring western streams and watersheds. By building temporary dams on small streams, beavers slow down rainwater runoff and snowmelt. This replenishes groundwater and provides essential stream flows during the dry months in the late summer and fall to sustain year-round habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as downstream water users. And, importantly, these “emerald refuges” protect valuable wildlife habitat when wildfires burn with increased intensity across western landscapes.
In 2018, National Wildlife Federation’s state and territory affiliates unanimously adopted a resolution supporting beaver restoration in western watersheds as a practical response to climate change. Our beaver restoration work includes advocacy for state and federal policies that incorporate beavers into watershed management and restoration, public education and outreach to engage people of all ages in beaver restoration, and collaborative on-the-ground habitat restoration projects to improve conditions for beavers to expand and thrive. Read more here about the connections between beavers, water, and healthy landscapes, and check out these resources for more information:
Adopt a Wildlife Acre: The National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conflict Resolution program retires public-land livestock grazing allotments in the Yellowstone Ecosystem (Wyoming/Idaho) and on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (Montana), that experience conflict with wildlife, especially grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and bighorn sheep. Ranchers receive fair payment for their allotments and have the opportunity to secure grazing in other locations. You can adopt a wildlife acre today. (Learn more about the program here.)
Bringing Back the Bighorns: Bighorn sheep are among our most valued wildlife species in the West. But bighorns aren’t nearly as abundant as they once were because disease transmitted from domestic sheep have decimated wild bighorn sheep populations. By working cooperatively with livestock producers to end domestic sheep grazing in areas inhabited by bighorn populations, the National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliates in the West have goal of doubling bighorn populations and ensuring a more secure future for these magnificent animals.
While it’s clear bighorn sheep populations are on the decline, developing state-specific priorities and solutions will be critical in recovering bighorn sheep populations across the west.
Maintaining Wildlife Connectivity: In general, wildlife need large swaths of habitat and the ability to move between these habitats to maintain vibrant populations. Conserving and advocating for landscape connectivity by identifying wildlife corridors and barriers to movement is a priority for The National Wildlife Federation. Wildlife corridors can be utilized daily, seasonally (e.g. during migration or dispersal) or in response to stochastic events (i.e. fire, drought, snow, flooding). Human development and habitat conversion are impediments to landscape connectivity. Linear features such as roads, fences and railroads fragment the landscape and incrementally reduce the ability for wildlife to move.
The National Wildlife Federation realizes that the best way to increase landscape connectivity is to work with all stakeholders across the landscape. We work across jurisdictions as wildlife are unconcerned with man-made borders. We use scientific approaches to identify migration corridors, large-scale connectivity and assess impediments to movement. Tools of the trade include remote cameras, GPS collars deployed on wildlife, modelling approaches, monitoring and fostering long-term relationships.To that end, we partner with state and federal agencies, landowners, universities and other conservation organizations to find effective on-the-ground solutions so that both people and wildlife thrive.
Check out this National Wildlife magazine article to learn more: Running the Gauntlet
Some current partnered projects related to connectivity across the region include:
Connecting Children with Nature: Even in the spectacular natural setting of the Northern Rockies, many kids spend more time indoors looking at electronic screens than outside experiencing the natural world. The National Wildlife Federation encourages everyone to spend at least an hour outdoors every day, and provides support for schools and families to connect with nature. Learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s diverse programs to connect kids and nature and like us on Facebook.
Addressing the Changing Climate: The changing climate may be the greatest long-term threat to fish and wildlife in the region. The National Wildlife Federation's Northern Rockies office works to curb carbon pollution, promote responsibly sited and developed renewable energy and encourage habitat and wildlife management principles that will allow fish and wildlife to continue to thrive as the climate changes. Of special emphasis is the implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan and the denial of the permit for the Otter Creek Coal Mine. For more information, click here: Missoulian Editorial: Return focus to clean energy, healthy air.
Montana License Plate: Montana residents: Did you know that, on average, kids spend more than 50 hours a week indoors in front of electronic devices? That's more hours than an average full-time job. Help us build our programs to promote better health and teach our future conservationists. By purchasing a National Wildlife Federation "No Child Left Inside" license plate, you contribute to our youth education and habitat programs. And here's our challenge: Pick a day, turn off the TV, unplug those video games, leave your phones at home ... and get outside! Twenty dollars from every plate purchased goes directly to programs that give Montana's children opportunities and encouragement to get outside and play.
Montana residents can visit the Montana Motor Vehicle Division website and scroll directly to the National Wildlife Federation's "No Child Left Inside" plate.
You don't have to travel far to join us for an event. Attend an upcoming event with one of our regional centers.