Company Profile

Blackfoot Challenge

Company Overview

The Blackfoot Challenge is a landowner-based group that coordinates management of the Blackfoot River, its tributaries, and adjacent lands. It is organized locally and known nationally as a model for preserving the rural character and natural beauty of a watershed.
The mission of The Blackfoot Challenge is to coordinate efforts that will enhance, conserve and protect the natural resources and rural lifestyle of the Blackfoot River Valley for present and future generations. The Challenge supports environmentally responsible resource stewardship through cooperation of private and public interests. Private landowners, federal and state land managers, local government officials, and corporate landowners compose their membership. All share a common vision of resource stewardship and believe that success can be achieved by building trust, partnerships, and working together.
As a 501c3 non-profit watershed group, the Blackfoot Challenge serves as an information clearinghouse for land-management activities in the drainage. Monthly Board meetings, committees, work groups, electronic and mail updates, public meetings, and a website form a communication network for the private/public partnership. The Challenge also sponsors educational workshops and tours throughout the year to encourage local involvement and ownership in resolving resource problems in the watershed. The membership is comprised of 500 individuals and over 100 organizations as partners.

Company History

Blackfoot landowners have played an instrumental stewardship role in the watershed for over three decades. One of the earliest efforts involved the development of Montana’s enabling legislation for conservation easements with the first conservation easement signed in the Blackfoot Valley in 1976.
The next milestone for conservation in the Blackfoot watershed was in 1992 when the Blackfoot River was listed as one of the ten most endangered rivers in the country due to a century of unsustainable practices including mining, livestock grazing, and timber harvest. Such practices were impacting the water quality and fisheries of the Blackfoot generating interest in river management and enforcement via top-down, agency-led planning and decision-making. Development, increased recreational use, and the spread of noxious weeds were also beginning to pose additional impacts on the overall health of the river. Private landowners responded with a non-regulatory approach to conservation on the Blackfoot River by developing a recreation corridor and an innovative walk-in hunter program on private lands, demonstrating the effectiveness of community-based conservation and creative solutions that meet public and private management objectives.
As resource issues continued to increase, landowners and agency partners began discussing the formation of a watershed group that would focus beyond the river from “ridge to ridge” on conserving the valley’s natural resources. In 1991, these local leaders organized meetings in each of the communities of the watershed to identify resource concerns, priorities and opportunities to work together. As projects and potential partners grew, the result was the organization of the Blackfoot Challenge in 1993 to coordinate efforts that will enhance, conserve and protect the natural resources and rural lifestyle of the Blackfoot River Valley for present and future generations.


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