I am both excited and humbled to have taken on the Executive Director position at Five Valleys Land Trust. While I am not technically a 'native' Montanan, I have spent the last 18 years here, am raising two daughters who have never known another home, and have never felt that anywhere was more home to me than this place.
After 14 years on the board of directors, I have developed a very personal appreciation for the communities we serve, the importance of strong partnerships, and the fact that conservation can serve us all. I have had the rare opportunity to see how a rancher, a cyclist, an urban farmer, a young family and a wildlife biologist can all achieve their conservation goals. The beauty of smart conservation is that it serves everyone.
I hope, as part of our community, these thoughts will resonate with you as you read through this newsletter. We recently spent a great day at the grand opening of the Lincoln Community River Park, celebrating the close, public access that Lincoln’s kids and families now have to the Blackfoot River. This spring we look forward to celebrating another public access opportunity made possible by Eagle Scout Rex Koenig. His project created a wheelchair accessible trail on our Rock Creek Confluence Property which leads to an old homesteader’s cabin where interpretive signs will share the history of this important place. It’s the work we do together that makes protecting our most special places possible. Our efforts on Mount Dean Stone over the past year have been tremendous, bringing together our partners and community to build trails on already-protected lands while our staff works with private landowners to connect the complex in a sustainable and thoughtful way. Significant donations of land, made possible by the incredible generosity of Bruce and Nancy Bugbee, Allen and Candace Fetscher, and Jack and Kendal Lyon, have helped us make huge strides in bringing our community one step closer to setting foot on a connected, community open space that provides room to roam for both people and wildlife.
I am incredibly proud of our achievements, and of being a member of this committed and diverse network of people. Looking forward, we plan to embark on a national executive director search early in 2019. But for the time being, we will continue to do the great work we have always done and of which I have been intimately involved in for so many years. It is a privilege to serve at the helm of an organization that is so close to my heart. Thank you for your continued support and trust in us.
By Amber Sherrill, Five Valleys Land Trust Executive Director
Header photo by Chris Gibisch