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Based in Missoula, Montana, The Vital Ground Foundation is a land trust focused on protecting private lands that connect larger wild strongholds, building lifelines for grizzlies and all things wild. We also work outside of the traditional land trust model of land protection; this talk will cover two case studies focused on how we collaborate with other organizations to rewild and restore habitat and the importance of supporting community led efforts to prevent conflicts between bears and humans, key aspects of improving overall habitat permeability. Through protecting and improving these connections, species can move more easily across the landscape, whether to access different food sources seasonally or to expand their range into different ecosystems. The first case study focuses on a project in a key corridor connecting genetically isolated grizzly bear populations near a rural town in northwest Montana. The property is a partially developed subdivision and an old homestead. Our efforts at the property are focused on removing the existing developments and restoring the highly altered ecosystems – including forests, grasslands, and riparian areas- in order to benefit habitat connectivity for multiple species. We’ll discuss opportunities as well as challenges faced as part of this project. The second case study focuses on our work to support living with wildlife practices and increase social tolerance for grizzly bears, examples of the social aspects of rewilding. As grizzly bears’ range expands and distinct populations are connected, they will need to pass through more developed valleys, increasing the risk for conflicts.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program