The Vital Ground Foundation and Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) bought 80 acres last week near the confluence of the Bull River and Clark Fork River in northwestern Montana to conserve a crucial wildlife corridor between the Cabinet Mountains in the north and the Bitterroot Mountains in the south.
We’ve written about the importance of wildlife corridors and crossings for the safety and conservation of local species before—they are necessary for wildlife to freely feed, breed, and migrate without human interference. However, as humans continue to encroach into animal habitats with the development of new roads, subdivisions, and farms, wildlife corridors are becoming more difficult to conserve and maintain.
Luckily, the landowner from whom the Vital Ground Foundation and Y2Y purchased the land was of a similar mindset and wished to protect open spaces from development.
The preservation of the area is especially important for grizzly bears. “In 2015, new science on grizzly bear connectivity identified this area as one of a few remaining connection points for grizzly bears in northwest Montana,” says Jessie Grossman, US program manager for Y2Y. “Last year, the opportunity became available to work with a landowner in the area to conserve this 80-acres property. With the real estate market booming, we knew we needed to act quickly.”
Even though the area is relatively small, it “is of continental importance to grizzly bears and other wildlife… it conserves open space for wildlife to move through a busy valley with homes, a highway, a railroad line, and other activities that are important for people but can obstruct wildlife movement.”
The organizations are focusing on grizzly bears because they are an umbrella species, which means that “if they are doing well, most other wildlife in the ecosystem is also doing well.”