Blackfoot Challenge Inc

Better Communities through Collaborative Conservation

aka Blackfoot Challenge   |   Ovando, MT   |  www.blackfootchallenge.org

Mission

To coordinate efforts to conserve and enhance the natural resources and rural way of life in the Blackfoot watershed for present and future generations.

Ruling year info

1995

Executive Director

Seth Wilson

Main address

P.O. Box 103

Ovando, MT 59854 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

81-0488863

NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our story begins in the early 1970s, when landowners along the Blackfoot River recognized the need to build partnerships with their neighbors and the greater public to address increasing recreation. By being inclusive, focusing on shared values, and building trust, these partners realized they could accomplish more by working together. Through partnership, they tackled issues such as water quality, fisheries restoration, invasive weeds, and changing landownership. This was a different way of doing business -- it started at the ground level and focused on people. This approach was formalized in 1993 with the creation of the Blackfoot Challenge, whose mission is to "coordinate efforts to conserve and enhance the natural resources and rural way of life in the Blackfoot Watershed." Through eight Board-led committees, we coordinate responses to community needs and find homegrown solutions that stand the test of time.

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?

Wildlife

Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflicts Using Preventative and Proactive Strategies |
The Blackfoot Watershed is rich with species like grizzly bears, wolves, and elk, all requiring creative and adaptive management. This committee provides a forum for community members to share information about wildlife activity in the watershed, identify shared goals, and create management strategies to minimize human-wildlife conflicts. Since 2002, the committee, composed of numerous public and private partners, has established both the Carcass Pick-Up and Range Rider Programs, installed electric fencing around beehives and calving grounds, and utilized bear-resistant dumpsters to reduce predator activity throughout the watershed.

Population(s) Served

A Holistic Approach to Controlling Undesirable, Invasive, Noxious Weeds |
A key issue affecting the Blackfoot is the spread of noxious weeds. Species like spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, yellow and Dalmation toadflax, houndstongue, sulfur cinquefoil and orange and meadow hawkweed post a threat to landowners working to maintain native range and grasslands. A strong private-public partnership has evolved since the 1980s to cooperate on integrated weed management across the watershed, linked by twelve landowner-led Vegetation Management Areas (VMA), three county weed districts, and federal and state public agencies.

Population(s) Served

Balancing water needs and availability through shared knowledge and commitment |
Severe drought and frustrations with Montana’s Drought Management Plan led to the formation of the Blackfoot Drought and Water Conservation Committee and the development of the Blackfoot Drought Response Plan in 2000. Through weekly meetings, the Drought Committee provides Blackfoot water users with the information necessary to prepare for and respond to drought and oversees implementation of the Drought Response Plan during low flow periods. The Drought Committee is comprised of representatives from state and federal agencies, conservation districts, and local conservation organizations as well as local landowners, irrigators, outfitters, and anglers.

Population(s) Served

Restoring Forest Health and Reducing Wildfire Risk near Communities |
In 2008, in response to high local interest in forest restoration and fuels mitigation, the Challenge formed the Forestry Committee to prioritize mitigation efforts, strategize on treatments, and increase fire safety in communities. The committee’s cooperative work is intended to lead to stronger partnerships across ownerships, creating more resilient forests for the future.

Population(s) Served

Nurturing Watershed Awareness and Stewardship Through Place-based Education |
In the Blackfoot, we believe that the best place to learn about the watershed is in the watershed, and that our best teachers are those who have experience here. That’s why our education programs are place-based and hands-on. We get kids outside with local experts like ranchers, naturalists, foresters, historians, and biologists to learn about the watershed’s inhabitants as well as topics like grazing management, water conservation, forest restoration, and wildlife conflict reduction. Watershed teachers guide the direction of our programs. We also engage adults through educational presentations and citizen science opportunities.

Population(s) Served

Coordinating land conservation and stewardship to keep working landscapes intact | There are a variety of public agencies, land trusts, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners working on conservation in the Blackfoot watershed. The Conservation Strategies Committee provides a forum for these individuals to exchange information, prioritize projects, pool resources, and leverage efforts. When Plum Creek Timber Company began selling land in the early 2000s, this committee began facilitating the community-driven process to convey those lands - over 200,000 acres - into permanent ownerships that would protect natural resources, local livelihoods, and community values.

Population(s) Served

Supporting landowners through stewardship assistance | Every private property in the Blackfoot Watershed is unique, with its own characteristics, history, and resource concerns. Similarly, every landowner is unique, with their own distinct values, objectives, and capacity to manage the land. Whether your goal is to make a living or simply enjoy beauty and solitude, there are many common threads for managing and enhancing the natural resources on your property. The Land Steward will meet you at your coffee table or in the field to take a holistic look at your property and discuss your goals and how to achieve them. Example projects include controlling noxious weeds while conserving native bunchgrasses, stewarding your forest to reduce wildfire risk while providing wildlife habitat, and designing a livestock grazing plan to maximize soil and stream health. By connecting individual improvements across neighbors, the Land Stewardship program realizes watershed-wide benefits.

Population(s) Served

Restoring Trumpeter Swans to their Native Wetlands since 2004 | Trumpeter swans are making a comeback in the Blackfoot watershed, with a little help from a joint program between the Blackfoot Challenge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Meriwether Lewis recorded the presence of a pair of trumpeter swans at the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clearwater Rivers in July of 1806. After the feather trade decimated swans throughout the continent, there were no records of resident swans in the Blackfoot until 2003, when a pair of trumpeters nested on a wetland east of Lincoln. Unfortunately, the female swan was killed by a collision with a powerline. The quick-thinking landowner rescued the eggs and they were hatched by a surrogate female. This nesting attempt inspired a restoration project, and starting in 2005 captive-reared trumpeter swans have been released in the Blackfoot every year. The population is steadily growing and nests have produced an increasing number of cygnets (baby swans) since 2011, with many of these young returning to the watershed to potentially raise families of their own. Over 200 schoolkids and members of the public attend the swan releases each year.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of individuals applying skills learned through the organization's training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Land Stewardship

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of conservation actions at site(s)

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Forestry

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Conservation Strategies

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Area of land, in hectares, indirectly controlled by the organization and under sustainable cultivation or sustainable stewardship

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Conservation Strategies

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Blackfoot Community Conservation Area

Number of sites with restored population successfully breeding

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Trumpeter Swans

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of links and collaborations with external organizations that support student learning and its priority tasks

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of children who have access to education

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Education

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of groups brought together in a coalition/alliance/partnership

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

No target populations selected

Related Program

Conservation Strategies

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

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.

Committees, Programs and Outcomes

Conservation Strategies · Coordinating land conservation and stewardship to keep working landscapes intact.
• 83% of watershed in conserved status (public ownership or under conservation easement)
• Coordinating community-based process for permanent ownership of former timberland

Education · Nurturing watershed awareness and stewardship through place-based education.
• Educating 500 youth each year since 1993
• Reaching 2,000 adults each year since 2004

Forestry · Restoring forest health and reducing wildfire risk near communities.
• Treating an average of 500 acres each year since 2009
• Building momentum and partnerships to implement cross-boundary prescribed fire

Land Stewardship · Supporting landowners through stewardship assistance one property at a time.
• 50 landowners receiving personalized natural resource management assistance per year
• Soil Health Workgroup identifying tools unique to the Blackfoot watershed

Partnerships · Transferring the lessons learned through collaborative conservation.
• Approval for private landowner advisory group to Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture
• Formation of Partners for Conservation as national voice for the landowner-led conservation
• Model for National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Landscape Conservation Stewardship

Vegetation · Integrated, locally-led approaches to invasive plant management across fence lines.
• Managing an average of 15,000 acres each year since 2000

Water Resources · Voluntary water stewardship grounded in shared knowledge and shared commitment.
• Conserving 50 cfs water during annual Drought Response since 2002
• Over 100 individual drought response plans activated in a drought year
• 80% of the watershed irrigators participating in the energy efficiency program

Wildlife · Reducing human-wildlife conflicts through proactive and preventative strategies.
• Reducing grizzly bear conflicts by 94% since 2003
• Reducing wolf conflicts since 2008
• Monitoring 40,000+ acres for carnivore activity every summer

Annual work plans, committee membership, and budgets are approved each year by the Board of Directors.

Local and federal partnerships are the most effective and efficient approach to conserve working landscapes and support responsible landscape stewardship. Our style is participatory, providing diverse stakeholders a seat at the table where we first work on the 80% we have in common, which develops trust and because all values are invited to participate, this creates durable solutions. These partnerships are supported with good science and our primary strategy to leverage resources and relationships through public/private partnerships

We possess 40 years of trust building, 20 years of conservation impact, and a national reputation for cooperative conservation.

BOARD - We have a diverse Board of Directors, representing all the communities in the watershed and all agency partners. This diversity is written into the by-laws, where the agencies have standing seats on the board, as board members or board partners, depending on their ability within in each agency, to formally join. The Board meets monthly to review administrative details, and hold a “mission moment" to build trust and partnerships through a round table discussion on accomplishments, ongoing work and future opportunities.

LEADERSHIP – The Board and staff conducted a comprehensive assessment in 2013, 2 staff satisfaction surveys, a 360 evaluation of the executive director, and hold an annual strategic framework session.

PRACTICES - The Blackfoot Challenge facilitates a community-based, collaborative approach to respond to changing conditions in watershed communities and natural resources. To date, we have developed innovations for the community-based approach in land conservation, natural resource management, drought response, and coexistence of people and carnivores. We hold ourselves accountable for administrative procedures with a written Operations Manual and Employee Handbook.

Financials

Blackfoot Challenge Inc
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Blackfoot Challenge Inc

Board of directors
as of 4/15/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jim Stone

Rolling Stone Ranch

Term: 2016 - 2020

Patti Bartlett

Seeley Lake 7-8 Middle School

Andy Erickson

E Bar L Guest Ranch

David Mannix

Mannix Brothers Ranch

Harry Poett

Ovando Landowner

Jim Stone

Rolling Stone Ranch

Todd Johnson

Pyramid Mountain Lumber

Randy Gazda

US Fish & Wildlife Service

Denny Iverson

Iverson Ranch

George Hirschenberger

Retired Bureau of Land Management

Randy Arnold

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Chris Bryant

The Nature Conservancy

Mike O'Herron

Montana DNRC

Michael Stansberry

US Forest Service, Lincoln

Jason Jewett

US Bank

Leigh Kelley

Paws Up Ranch

Jack Mulcare

Greenough Landowner

Robert Ray

MT DEQ

Quinn Carver

US Forest Service, Seeley Lake

Ryan Thompson

Swift Current Events

Bill Cyr

B&C Outfitters, Lincoln

Darrell Reese

Sagemont Investment Group

Brent Anderson

Conifer Logging, Lincoln

Stoney Burke

Ovando Landowner

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 orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes