Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

The Vital Ground Foundation and Blackfeet Nation Conserve Key Wildlife Habitat Near Glacier Park

The Vital Ground Foundation, a regional land trust based in Missoula, has partnered with the Blackfeet Nation to conserve 74 acres of important wildlife habitat along Kennedy Creek east of Glacier National Park.

A nonprofit land trust that protects key movement areas for grizzly bears and other wildlife, Vital Ground purchased the acreage before immediately transferring ownership to the Blackfeet Nation. Previously a private inholding surrounded by tribal lands, the site provides habitat lush with conifers, aspen and other vegetation, leading to heavy traffic from grizzly bears and other species.

Kennedy Creek flows from mountain headwaters in Glacier National Park through the project area, passing near Yellow Mountain and Chief Mountain, a prominent sacred site in Blackfeet cultural traditions.

“I am very pleased that Vital Ground was able to partner with the Blackfeet Nation to protect the ecological integrity of the Chief Mountain-Yellow Mountain area,” said Buzz Cobell, Director of Blackfeet Nation Fish and Wildlife. “Kennedy Creek is inhabited by one of the few populations of bull trout existing on the east slope of the Rocky Mountains. In addition, this area is used extensively by grizzly bears, moose, elk, deer and other important wildlife species. Thanks to our collaborative efforts this special area will continue to be wild and undeveloped.”

“Protecting this irreplaceable wildlife habitat at the footsteps of Glacier National Park fits squarely within our One Landscape strategy,” said Vital Ground Conservation Manager Mitch Doherty. “But this project goes beyond protecting land for wildlife. Working with members of the Blackfeet Nation, Vital Ground was able to return this land to the people who have been caring for it since time immemorial.”