Craighead Environmental Research Institute

Giving wildlife a voice for over 50 years.

aka Craighead Institute   |   Bozeman, MT   |  www.craigheadinstitute.org

Mission

Our mission is to maintain healthy populations of native plants, wildlife, and people as part of sustainable, functioning ecosystems. . We use defensible science to ensure healthy ecosystems for future generations.

Ruling year info

1964

Executive Director

Dr. Frank Lance Craighead

Research biologist

Mrs. April Hudoff Craighead

Main address

201 South Wallace Avenue Suite B2D

Bozeman, MT 59715 USA

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Formerly known as

Craighead Environmental Research Institute

EIN

52-0810968

NTEE code info

Biological, Life Science Research includes Marine Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, etc.) (U50)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The greatest conservation challenge of our time is now climate change and its effects on ecosystems which support life on this planet. Maintaining large ecosystems with the full component of plants and animals is our best approach for adapting to climate change and maintaining systems that can support life. The second greatest challenge, which is also a driver of climate change, is the alteration of habitat by a steadily increasing human population which is expanding into our last wild reserves. Our program focuses on the future: protecting critical public and private lands and providing leadership and support that can prepare and maintain conservation efforts through the difficult years to come.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Conservation Planning

In the face of increasing human population and residential development, land-use planners, wildlife managers, policy makers and landowners need access to effective tools and information that allow them to weigh the effects of potential future development on wildlife habitat and movements. 

Today the Craighead Institute is a recognized leader in conservation planning with the publication of the book: “Conservation Planning; Shaping the Future” by Esri Press in 2013. The Institute is working with local communities in the U.S., Canada, and internationally to help people plan the landscapes of their future. Grizzly bears, and other focal species that act as surrogates for biodiversity, have been a fundamental part of our conservation planning approach.

Through CERI's Madison Valley projects in Montana, CERI scientists have developed a powerful conservation planning framework to incorporate current scientific information about wildlife conservation into land use planning and policy. Using GIS-based tools, this framework provides a step-by-step process for setting conservation objectives and producing appropriate development criteria based on these objectives. It is designed to protect wildlife values through solid planning prior to development, minimize negative impacts to wildlife during construction and encourage sound wildlife stewardship following construction.

Other Conservation Planning projects are centered around grizzly bears. We conduct analyses and develop guidelines for projects that can impact grizzly bears and other wildlife. One such project was our recent POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED PACIFIC NORTHWEST NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL ROUTE ON THREATENED GRIZZLY BEARS AND THEIR RECOVERY IN THE YAAK WATERSHED AREA, NW MONTANA. The final report of this assessment is available upon request from the Yaak Valley Forest Council ( ). It will soon be available here and on the YVFC website at http://www.yaakvalley.org/

Projects - Providing Wildlife Corridors Across Highways:

Creating a safe wildlife crossing is a complex issue; not only do the animals need a safe route over or under the highway, they need to have somewhere friendly to go on either side. This is a problem that can be solved; crossing structures work, and they work well. Working collaboratively with diverse groups in Montana we have identified critical corridors that cross busy highways. It is a difficult goal, but wildlife crossings are increasingly being built throughout the United States. In Montana alone we have numerous crossings on Highway 93 both north and south of Missoula. Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Alberta are neighboring jurisdictions with many such projects either completed or in the works. It may be a complex problem, but it is a problem that can be solved. The reduction of 3 deer collisions or 1 elk collision per year can pay for the cost of crossing structures over time and save US citizens money in insurance deductibles, not to mention health care costs. And, these crossings can help greatly to maintain our vulnerable wildlife populations.

Population(s) Served

Project -Effects of Climate Change on Pika Populations:

Identifying current pika habitat and predicting habitat under future climate scenarios is the major focus this project.  One of the most effective tools for this is habitat suitability modeling. For this project, pika habitat suitability models are being developed in a Geographic Information System (GIS) using population data from three distinct populations of pikas in three different ecoregions around the world.

Using temperature and precipitation predictions from climate change (CC) models, the habitat suitability models will help explain if pika populations in other parts of Montana and the U.S. will decline in the future under similar climate factors and develop future scenarios to predict when and where those changes may occur. Now and in the future, managers and conservation groups are going to need innovative technology and research, like that being developed through this project, to guide conservation efforts for imperiled species such as pikas.

Projects - Grizzly Bear Research and Outreach:

Many of the baby-boomer generation remember the Craighead team from the popular National Geographic articles and films about their work, particularly the "Grizzly” and "Wild River” television specials. However, younger generations are often unaware of the Craighead legacy or of the work that the Institute continues to do. At the same time, environmental awareness has grown from thinking of discreet populations of animals in protected national parks, to regional metapopulations of connected landscapes, to continental scale conservation efforts like the Spine of the Continent (or Wildlands Network), and the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative. The Craighead legacy was truly the beginning of this growing awareness, and the Craighead Institute is still at the forefront of conservation efforts.

Lance Craighead helped establish the importance of genetic research for conservation of wildlife species with his work on Arctic grizzly bears in the 1990’s. He worked with David Paetkau, using the DNA primers that David developed, to elucidate paternity, mating patterns, and population genetics of a wild and relatively unhunted grizzly bear population on Alaska's North Slope that had been studied for almost 20 years by Harry Reynolds with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Harry had been a student of John and Frank Craighead and the University of Montana, and is now retired and the Director of the Gobi Bear Fund. David is a world renowned leader in wildlfe genetics and founded a company in Nelson, British Columbia: Wildlife Genetics International.

Lance Craighead helped complete accurate models and maps of grizzly bear habitat, including the first grizzly bear corridor models and connectivity analysis (least cost path) with Rich Walker in 1995. Brent Brock, Landscape Ecologist at the Craighead Institute has developed GIS tools to identify key areas for protection of wildlife connectivity in the face of land use change; many of them based upon grizzly bear resource selection and sensitivity to human developments and activities.

Population(s) Served

Alpine Ecology and Climate Change
. This project provides a real-world learning experience for children that can transform their understanding of their place in nature and encourage them to become engaged in their community to help solve environmental problems. This is a partnership between two conservation organizations, the Craighead Institute and Working Dogs For Conservation.

The goals of the project are:

1. To introduce students at an early age to ecological concepts such as habitat, climate, climate change, and life histories of species.
2. To integrate outdoor studies into the Montana elementary school curriculum.
3. To develop an appreciation in students of the complexity of nature and the interrelatedness of people, plants, wildlife, and the physical environment.
4. To involve students in research and conservation activities with an understanding of cause and effect relationships and why these are important.
5. To help give students the tools to think about complex issues and formulate decisions.
6. To suggest and encourage actions that students can take to effect conservation change in their own lives.

Population(s) Served

By the early 20th century, many wildlife populations in North America had been decimated by unregulated and commercial harvest. The revolutionary solutions our predecessors derived almost 100 years ago included game laws, the development of wildlife science as a profession, and systems to effectively fund population management. Today, our wildlife face new and different threats, many of them habitat-related. In order to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must innovate now. Modern conservation will depend upon collaboration among diverse interests with a common goal; maintaining biodiversity and a healthy environment for all species. Modern conservation needs to be inclusive, not adversarial; and respectful, not confrontational. We all need to unite to fight a common enemy which is ourselves.

Projects - Reducing the impacts of climate change on ecosystems:

The greatest conservation challenge of our time is now climate change and its effects on ecosystems which support life on this planet. Maintaining large ecosystems with the full component of plants and animals is our best approach for adapting to climate change and maintaining systems that can support life. The second greatest challenge, which is also a driver of climate change, is the alteration of habitat by a steadily increasing human population which is expanding into our last wild reserves. Our program focuses on the future: protecting critical public and private lands and providing leadership and support that can prepare and maintain conservation efforts through the difficult years to come. This project focuses on a crucial bottleneck in conservation lands: wildlife corridors, and in particular those areas where corridors intersect with major highways. intact, roadless areas of secure habitat are critical for maintaining healthy ecosystems, particularly in the face of our rapidly changing climate. Keeping our intact public lands protected is a critical conservation effort; but we also need to keep these core areas connected so that wildlife can move freely between them. Protecting these lands is an investment in a healthy environment for wildlife and for our grandchildren. Protecting them now is like banking public health for the future.

Project - Murals of Threatened and Endangered Species for Bozeman:
One of the great images that we see every day on our way to work at the Craighead Institute office (201 South Wallace) is the railroad mural on the side of Heeb’s grocery store on East Main in Bozeman. Every day it reminds us of Bozeman’s rich history and how Bozeman has changed. Murals like this and a few others in town bring history, education and Montana’s natural beauty to life.

Imagine now having a grizzly bear or whooping crane or Bull trout or Spalding’s campion mural grace the walls, garage doors or sheds in and around Bozeman. Envision these murals on the sides of buildings like the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, McPhie’s cabinetry or The Rivers Edge fly fishing store. With these murals Bozeman could expand on its already progressive view of art and its importance to the community.

These species may not appear to have much in common but they share with eight other species the dubious distinction of being Montana’s threatened and endangered species. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was established in 1973 and is the strongest law that we have to defend species from going extinct. These species represent the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to protect these species and their habitats for future generations. If implemented these 12 murals would highlight the plight of Montana’s threatened and endangered species, educate the public about the importance of these species, protecting habitat and highlight the talents of regional artists.
Picture
PLEASE DONATE TO THE MURALS PROJECT
The Audubon Mural project in New York is the inspiration for the Montana threatened and endangered species mural project. The National Audubon Society and Avi Gitler of the Gitler & ___ Gallery are in the process of painting 314 murals throughout the city to highlight the plight of bird species that are threatened by climate change. Currently they have finished 77 murals that grace sides of buildings, garage doors and private homes throughout the city. http://www.audubon.org/amp

This will be a great project for Bozeman to participate in to bring art, community involvement and nonprofits together and spread the word about the importance of our threatened and endangered species. All artists and large donors would be acknowledged on the art as well as a website to find more information.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goal of the Craighead Institute programs is to maintain or enhance biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem structure, while addressing human-oriented land uses that may be detrimental to that goal. In 2015 we began a program for helping people understand the importance of wilderness study areas, roadless areas, and other intact habitat. We began to appreciate the critical and urgent need for this program, and realized that most people even in Montana do not fully understand their importance with regard to climate change and biodiversity. We can develop safe highway crossings as a part of critical wildlife corridors so that wildlife can move in response to population pressures and climate change. We have begun to identify and implement on-the-ground actions to maintain and improve wildlife corridors.

Working collaboratively with diverse groups in Montana, nationally, and globally, we have identified critical wilderness and wildlands, and wildlife corridors that cross busy highways. We will work to protect private lands within corridors, and help direct public lands management of critical core areas, with the overall goal of biological diversity conservation. With a network of collaborating scientists and conservationists we will continue:
1] Improving and utilizing conservation science to maintain ecosystems.
2] Developing a base of sustainable support that will maintain conservation efforts and understanding through financial, collaborative, and educational networks.
3] Identifying priority areas that are essential to remain protected and unimpaired to maintain functioning ecosystems.
4] Identifying priority actions to better manage growth and land use practices in a manner that reduces impacts on habitats and habitat linkages.
5] Providing information and scientific justification for the protection of roadless areas through agency processes, and public involvement.

The Craighead Institute is an applied science and research organization with a long history of designing and managing innovative research projects in support of conservation in the Northern Rockies and around the world. The Craighead Institute has been in operation for over 50 years and was founded in 1964 by renowned grizzly bear researcher Dr. Frank Craighead. In the past 20 years, Craighead Institute has been active in guiding conservation policy and management, developing wildlife habitat suitability and connectivity models, and guiding both large-scale conservation area designs and fine-scale community conservation plans in the United States and Canada. We partner with scientists and land managers to develop innovative, science-based tools to address conservation challenges and help implement solutions that work across broad landscapes. Our scientists work within local communities to balance the issues of development with the needs of wildlife, using the latest ecological research, remote sensing, GIS, and data analysis.
At one point, before the recession in 2008, we maintained a staff of 6 Full-time employees and a computer lab with 10 computers, and additional equipment. We have currently downsized to just 2 Full-time employees working for Half-time salaries. We still maintain a computer lab of 7 computers and additional equipment. Our greatest strength is our network of collaborating scientists and conservationists. We maintain a great relationship with Esri that provides us with state-of-the-art GIS software and support.

The Craighead Institute is a recognized leader in conservation planning with the publication of the book: “Conservation Planning; Shaping the Future" by Esri Press. The need for this book coalesced over an eight-year period, 1999-2007, during which the Craighead Institute held meetings and workshops at the BBar Ranch near Livingston, MT. Conservation scientists from a variety of organizations and disciplines would meet informally to discuss various conservation projects and problems. It provided a fertile ground for cross-disciplinary innovation and collaboration. Through additional meetings, and discussions with colleagues at ESRI and the Society for Conservation Biology, we assembled a team of authors to contribute key chapters to a book. It was published by ESRI Press in February 2013.


The Institute is working with local communities in the U.S., Canada, and internationally to help people plan the landscapes of their future. Grizzly bears, and other focal species that act as surrogates for biodiversity, have been a fundamental part of our conservation planning approach. In 2015 we completed an assessment to identify species and communities at risk in a Wilderness Study Area in the Gallatin Mountains of Montana: the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area. This assessment provided a solid scientific basis for strategies to work for habitat protection and ecosystem resilience. It documented the fact that intact, roadless areas of secure habitat are critical for maintaining healthy ecosystems, particularly in the face of our rapidly changing climate.

In 2016 our programs focused on using the information from our 2015 assessment. We used this scientific data to help guide the Forest Planning Process and to influence legislators to maintain the protections already in place but subject to revision by either agency processes or legislative changes.

In 2017 as agency and legislative processes unfolded we began applying this approach to other public lands in Montana; particularly Wilderness Study Areas and Inventoried Roadless Areas.

In 2018 we helped guide the Forest Planning Process and to influence legislators to maintain the protections already in place while targeting a broader audience of support for wild land protection through newspaper editorials, articles in online journals such as "Mountain Journal".

Financials

Craighead Environmental Research Institute
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Craighead Environmental Research Institute

Board of directors
as of 06/01/2018
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Kent Madin

Boojum Expeditions


Board co-chair

Mr. Gary Gannon

Visual Life Web/SciGaia

Eldon J Spencer

Leonard, O'Brien, Wilford, Spencer, and Gale Ltd

Tony Thompson

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture

Charles Stevens Craighead

Grand Teton Association

John Banovich

Banovich Art, Inc.

Ted Lange

Conservation professional

Tom Fiddaman

Ventana Systems

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes