For generations, family ranchers have owned large swaths of the land in this region. But due to challenging economic times, increased demand for recreational property and vacation homes and increased oil and gas development, many of these ranchers have had to sell their land. More than three million acres have been subdivided over the past 15 years.

This development not only erodes the ranching tradition that characterizes the region, it also disrupts wildlife migration routes and cuts off access to breeding grounds, food and safe wilderness for dozens of species such as grizzly bears, elk and nesting birds like the long-billed curlew.

How We’re Saving the Front

With key funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Conservation Fund partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Montana to launch an unprecedented effort to protect 250,000 acres of wildlife habitat along the Rocky Mountain Front while maintaining the region’s traditional ranching heritage.

We’re doing that by working with ranching families to place conservation easements on their properties. A conservation easement is an agreement a landowner makes to permanently restrict the type and amount of development on their land. Rather than selling the land to be developed into subdivisions, conservation easements allow them to continue ranching while protecting the land for wildlife habitat.

To date, our Rocky Mountain Front Initiative has protected 100,000 acres of critical migratory corridors for grizzly bears and a wide variety of other species that depend on the Front’s rich ecosystem.

Why This Project Matters

At the Fund, we know that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense for the people who live in the area. By working with ranchers, we’ve found a successful way to help residents and wildlife live together peacefully on the Front.

Rocky Mountain Front