Thirty people gathered in Alder, Montana to kick off the annual Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance (RVSA) Field Tour. The objective of the tour was to educate participants about the relationship between private and public lands and the role ranchers play to conserve it.
We visited our rancher friend, John Helle, at his annual wool harvesting event Shear and Shred. It was a great opportunity to see firsthand how ranchers need public land access to thrive. That’s why we’re a part of the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance, a coalition of ranchers and nonprofits dedicated to long-term conservation on the Ruby Valley landscape.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is committed to visiting with the ranchers of the Ruby Valley to hear their stories, focusing on their livestock and carnivore encounters. While we know that grizzlies are expanding and ranchers are in their path, we don’t know what’s happening on the ground. Montana Conservation Coordinator Darcie Warden and I are leading the charge to lend an ear and learn about what ranchers and their employees need to live and thrive on the landscape with grizzly bears.
On a smoky August 24, over 40 people met at the Madison County fairgrounds to tour ranches in Montana’s Ruby Valley and learn how ranchers are taking care of their land for future generations. The focus was on the important connection between private and public lands to meet our shared conservation goals.
Outside a small-town center in rural Montana, a parking lot was full of Subarus and hardy trucks. Around the table inside there were non-profiteers in their Patagonia clothes and ranchers in their cowboy hats and work boots. The folks may look like opposites and drive different cars, but we’re all here for the same reason: to preserve the public lands of the Ruby Valley and support multi-generational working ranches to keep open land open and healthy for the animals.
A Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance (RVSA) meeting recently took place in the small town of Sheridan, Montana, nestled near the Tobacco Root Mountains. The RVSA was formed to achieve long term conservation goals while managing private working ranches to ensure responsible management of public and private lands for future generations. It proves that collaboration is possible among people with different careers and beliefs. Everyone can speak their mind in a respectful manner and we listen and make an effort to understand a different perspective we may not encounter regularly.
UP NEXT: We’ll have a tour of the Ruby Valley in August, visiting the ranches of Rick Sandru, Gary Giem, and Neil Barnosky and inviting members of Montana’s congressional representations and reporters. We’re hoping to highlight the importance of Farm Bill programs, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical support, and the connection between private lands and public grazing allotments. Maybe we’ll even show a few folks that it’s possible to effectively collaborate with those that you may not always agree with. Other RSVA activities include treating noxious weeks, restoration efforts on waterways, and the overall sharing of knowledge.
We’re involved because we believe everyone has a voice and that collaboration is the surest way to long lasting conservation. It’s in our best interest to work with landowners by listening to what they want and need and finding compromise.
We’re very proud of our role in the RVSA and couldn’t do it without our partners at the Ruby Valley Stock Association, Helle Livestock, Ruby Dell Ranch, Warm Springs Grazing Association, Ledford Creek Grazing Association, Public Lands Council, Madison County Commission, Montana Land Reliance, Ruby Valley Conservation District and Watershed Council, Ruby Habitat Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, Montana Wilderness Association, and Trout Unlimited.
Thank you for supporting our work!
-- Darcie Warden, Montana Conservation Coordinator