By Greg Tollefson, Interim Executive Director
Change happens. As we all know, when change comes, it often brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. For me, the transition to new leadership at Five Valleys brought about by interim Executive Director Amber Sherrill moving on to new opportunities of her own, has also blessed me with the chance to fill that interim role myself, for just a little while. I say blessed because of the somewhat guilty pleasure I take from sharing my thoughts with you about what I see at Five Valleys today, compared with the organization when I first served as its executive director nearly three decades ago.
One fine fall day in 1994, then Five Valleys board president Chuck Tribe and I had occasion to climb Mount Jumbo for the purpose of mulling over an opportunity that had arisen to purchase the bulk of the mountain from the estate of John Kapwyck. As it turned out, there was really nothing to decide, as Chuck so aptly pointed out while we sat up there looking out over the beautiful Missoula Valley. “We don’t have a choice. We have to do this,” Chuck said.
What followed was an effort led by Five Valleys, and joined by local government, many partner organizations, and countless women, men, and children from across the community, to raise the more than $3M needed to move the land into public ownership.
Time and again over the following years, Five Valleys and the growing communities that we serve have come to the same conclusion about protecting what makes the place we live special.
At Five Valleys right now, the exceptional staff of skilled professionals who toil every day to protect our working landscape, secure and expand public access, educational, and recreational opportunities for all, and maintain and enhance the wildlife habitat and clean, cold water, do so with the same passion that inspired the creation of the Five Valleys River Parks Association back in 1972.
The faces may change, but the work goes on every day. Five Valleys and our greater community are grateful to Amber for her successful efforts to help secure passage of an unprecedented third open space bond, so vital to our work in Missoula County, and we wish her well. Now, even as Five Valleys seeks new permanent leadership, that important work goes on, unabated.
New challenges must be met and new opportunities must be seized. We don’t have a choice. That’s what community conservation is about.
In this edition:
The exciting project will provide easy access to nature and trails for Missoula residents west of Reserve Street, and protect wildlife habitat and scenic views.
The Buxbaum project will protect wildlife habitat, agricultural land, and public hunting access in the heart of the scenic
Get the 2019 Public Access Map, read about our National Trails Day celebration, and learn how you can get involved with this once-in-a-generation project.
Opportunities to connect our community the land and engage with our partners in restoration, education, and public access continue to grow on the lands we own in Clinton, Missoula and Lincoln.
Bird surveys have proven to be invaluable tools for achieving lasting conservation, from the Flint Creek Valley to Mount Dean Stone and beyond.
Header photo of the Bluebird-North Hills Property by Brian Christianson