Montana Forever is Funded!

Five Valleys is thrilled to announce the completion of our 50th Anniversary $4.5M Montana Forever Campaign. With a total of $4.523M raised, Five Valleys will able to accelerate the pace of conservation work across western Montana. The Montana Forever Campaign Committee wants to thank the many generous individuals, businesses, and foundations whose contributions are ensuring that Western Montana will remain the irreplaceable place it is for generations to come.

"The support of our community has been incredible,” says Julie Fogarty, Co-Chair of the Montana Forever Campaign Committee. “We launched this campaign with the hope of raising funds over our 50th anniversary year in 2022. Thanks to the vision of over 230 individuals, businesses, and foundations, we were able to meet and exceed that goal.”
Attendees of Five Valley's 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2022. Photo by Anna Schreck.

To date, Five Valleys has helped protect over 97,700 acres across western Montana, including open lands such as Mount Jumbo, the Alberton Gorge, Mount Sentinel, the Route of the Hiawatha Trail, Mount Dean Stone, the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, and nearly 200 private conservation easement properties across ten counties.

Rafters on the Alberton Gorge. Photo by Montana River Photography.

With Montana’s recent growth boom and continued impacts from the Covid pandemic, Five Valleys has seen a dramatic increase in interest in conservation from landowners and community members alike.

“Western Montana is growing and changing quickly,” says Whitney Schwab, Five Valleys' Executive Director. “These funds allow us to invest at this pivotal time in response to our community’s call to protect the lands they love, and our region’s high quality of life, for the next 50 years and beyond.”

As Five Valleys planned for its next half-century, the organization recognized the dual importance of responding to urgent conservation needs and opportunities while also ensuring that Five Valleys’ nearly 200 conservation easement properties and community open spaces are responsibly stewarded in perpetuity.  

The Montana Forever Campaign focused on investment in four areas:

  • Accelerating the pace of private land conservation in critically pressured areas, especially across lands that support both wildlife and agriculture.
  • Focusing on climate adaptation and resilience opportunities, including conservation of carbon-sequestering grasslands, supporting forest health projects that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, promoting resilient land stewardship practices, and building cross-sector partnerships.
  • Investing in Five Valleys’ stewardship program, which is responsible for ensuring that over 83,000 acres of conserved private lands remain protected and whole in perpetuity.  
The next generation of conservation easement landowners, courtesy of the Hathaway family.
“People in this area love it here because of our Montana way of life. Western Montana is growing and changing because of this popularity. The success of the Montana Forever Campaign shows how much our community would like to see working lands protected, wildlife habitat secured, and community open spaces established and taken care of for people to enjoy,” says Bjorn Nabozney, Big Sky Brewing Company Co-Founder and Montana Forever Campaign Co-Chair.

Five Valleys reports that the Montana Forever Campaign has already supported on-the-ground projects. In 2022, campaign contributions helped conserve 1,891 acres of wildlife habitat and agricultural lands, supported the opening of the 4.6-mile House of Sky Trail on Mount Dean Stone, and brought new mapping technologies into project planning and implementation.

In the year ahead, further investment in land stewardship is underway as well as efforts to protect 11,000+ acres by 2026.

Elk and calf in the Mission Valley. Photo by Jason Savage Photography.

Five Valleys would like to thank the incredible community volunteers who served on the Montana Forever Campaign Committee and whose efforts are helping to conserve and steward Western Montana's natural legacy: Julie Fogarty (Co-Chair), Bjorn Nabozney (Co-Chair), Lisa Bickell, Heidi Meierbachtol, Shaun Radley, Jim Valeo, Pam Volkmann, and Rick Wishcamper.

Wildflowers on conservation lands. Photo by Big Sky Photography.

Header photo by Mark Mesenko Photography


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