Fifteen years ago, The Blackfoot Challenge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program competed for and won an Innovations in American Government grant from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard to transfer collaborative conservation lessons learned delivering years of locally-led collaborative conservation in western Montana to the rest of the country. One of the outputs from this grant was the creation of a new landowner-led organization to provide a national footprint with a local face to support both the idea and practice of locally-led, public-private conservation partnerships across the country.
Initially an all-volunteer landowner-led organization, Partnerscapes (first known as Partners for Conservation) established a partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association in 2013 to hire its first and (still) only staff person. Partnerscapes’ credibility and authenticity comes from the fact that it is led by individual landowners who implement locally-led collaborative conservation where they live and are willing and able to share what they have learned and what they have accomplished with landowners, conservation organizations and agencies, as well as our leaders at all levels.
Partnerscapes developed relationships with supporters and funders enabling it to pay its own way, but as a staff of one, the partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association continued until just recently. Going forward, the boards of the Blackfoot Challenge and Partnerscapes have agreed that the Challenge will host the staff position going forward.
Partnerscapes is both honored and extremely appreciative to have the chance to come back to where it all started. We are looking forward with great anticipation to finding ways to work more closely with the Blackfoot Challenge in supporting collaborative conservation locally, regionally, and nationally!