Grizzly bear and cubs

Coalition preserves corridors for iconic wildlife on the move

Grizzly bear and cubs

The Blackfoot people knew the rugged wilderness of what is now northern Montana as the “Backbone of the Earth.” Later inhabitants would dub the region the “Crown of the Continent.” 

It’s easy to see why.

This area of the northern Rocky Mountains remains one of the wildest and most beautiful places on Earth. Every year, millions of visitors flock to Glacier National Park and other nearby protected lands to hike, camp, hunt, fish and simply experience nature at its most spectacular.

Elk, mule deer, pronghorn, moose and bighorn sheep graze across rocky slopes that jut from rich grasslands. Mountain lions, gray wolves, Canada lynx and wolverines slip through dense groves of aspen and hemlock. Grizzly bears roam the landscape, ranging from treeless alpine peaks to lush river valleys in their never-ending search for calories. Grouse, turkeys and songbirds fill the forests and meadows with sound. Bull trout, cutthroats and mountain whitefish flash their colors in swift-running streams.

This bountiful landscape also supports some of the country’s rarest wildlife species, creatures most people never see: western toad, flammulated owl, brown creeper and Townsend’s big-eared bat.

“There are very few places where you can find the kind of natural beauty and wildlife densities that we have here,” said Kristin Kovalik, senior project manager with The Trust for Public Land. “Many of these large, charismatic species need to move throughout the year, often on epic migrations that can lead them off protected lands and into harm’s way. Protecting natural corridors, especially those that link large national forests, parks and state land, represents one of our most important conservation challenges.” ​

In 2018, the Acres for America conservation program awarded $645,000 to protect and ensure public access to 13,398 acres of critical wildlife habitat in the Lazy and Swift Creek-Stillwater linkage area within the Crown of the Continent. The $40 million project, which also received $250,000 in funding from NFWF’s Northern Rockies: Great Migrations program, will prevent subdivision and residential development in one of the fastest-growing areas of Montana, while allowing sustainable timber harvests and increasing public access for outdoor recreation.

Acres for America, one of the most effective public-private partnerships in the history of U.S. conservation, was established by Walmart and NFWF in 2005 to permanently conserve one acre of wildlife habitat for every acre of land developed by Walmart stores. The program has far surpassed that original goal, having helped to protect more than 1.4 million acres, an area the size of Grand Canyon National Park. 

In 2018, the program awarded $3.8 million in grants to protect and connect wildlife habitat across more than 100,000 acres in California, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina and Texas.

Contributing Partners: Walmart, U.S. Department of The Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service

Contact: Matt Winter, 202-857-0166