|Office of the Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2008
Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne Presents Cooperative Conservation Award for Earth Day to Montana's Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area
WASHINGTON, D.C.— At a ceremony in the nation's capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recognized the Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area in Montana as one of 21 recipients nationwide of the Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award.
The 21 awards recognize the work of more than 700 groups and individuals who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.
The award to the Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area recognizes the partnership's "outstanding contributions to conserving the natural values and facilitating continued use in the Middle Fork Flathead River Corridor" and in particular to reducing conflicts between grizzly bears and people.
"These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence," Secretary Kempthorne said. "They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation."
The Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area partnership was galvanized by a series of unfortunate grizzly bear deaths associated with rail transportation in the river corridor around the turn of the 1990s. To help resolve conflicts caused by the intersections of endangered species, pristine habitats, and vital transportation corridors, Glacier National Park and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad formed a partnership.
An early success of the partnership was the development of a rapid response protocol that eliminated large grain spills and subsequent train strikes as a source of grizzly bear mortality in the ecosystem. This and subsequent grizzly bear management efforts have reduced bear-human conflict in the corridor almost 100 percent.
"The partnership has expanded to include over 20 organizations, public and private, that have interests within the corridor," the award noted.
The Department of the Interior's Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and federal, state, local, and/or tribal governments.
"This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities," the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. "If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation."
Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area (Montana) Nominated by the National Park Service