By Whitney Schwab, Executive Director
Reflecting on 50 years of serving our community is an amazing thing. As just one person in a long line of people who have put their land or time or money into the idea of protecting what we love about western Montana, I am both inspired and grateful for those who came before me. I hope you feel as moved as I do when looking back on our successes together.
This milestone in time offers us a chance to not only look ahead to next year, but the next century. As our region grows, conservation is becoming both more complex and more urgent. Yet, these challenges are not without opportunity: Opportunities to bring innovative technologies into old practices, to share the ethic of land stewardship with a new generation, to protect spaces where we can find common ground with new community members. Now is the time to assess where our community may ask us to play a role in the decades to come.
In just a few days we will gather on the 50-yard line of Washington-Grizzly Stadium to celebrate and support 50 years of conservation and stewardship at our 26th annual Banquet & Auction. This fall, on October 1st, we invite you to celebrate this legacy—your legacy—at the Line Ranch on the slopes of Mount Dean Stone for our 50th Anniversary Community Celebration. We hope you will join us.
The work of Five Valleys is about protecting places. But that work has always been driven and supported by the people who love those places. Thank you for taking the time this year to support conserve the Western Montana lands you love.
In this edition:
A half-century after our founding as the Five Valleys River Park Association, we're thrilled to be celebrating our 50th Anniversary. But more than it being Five Valleys' anniversary, this year marks our community's anniversary of daring to start small to accomplish something big: protecting Western Montana's natural legacy.
In January 1972, a small ad ran in the Missoulian newspaper. The twenty people that attended would found the FVRPA and lay the foundation for private land conservation in Western Montana for decades to follow.
Through a unique public access and conservation project, Five Valleys will ensure that this treasured community open space remains protect and available for the local community in perpetuity.
Ten years ago, in 2012, Five Valleys embarked on a new era: owning land outright, for the long term. Through partnerships, education, universal access development and restoration, the Confluence has expanded the bounds of how Five Valleys can serve our community.
Last summer, the Mount Dean Stone project reached a turning point. Now that public access is secure, the project is focusing on landscape-wide access and natural resource needs, starting with the opening of the House of Sky Trail.
Header photo of the Mission Range from Charlo by Mark Mesenko