Nestled in the international Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, Montana’s Swan Valley is both ecologically rich and visually stunning. Thanks to a conservation effort that stretched from the back woods to the halls of Congress, the valley is also conserved for generations to come.
Land speculators had their eye on developing this wild valley. Locals hated the idea of their home valley turned to strip malls, no-trespassing signs and gated communities of trophy homes, and decided to act. In the end, a coalition of small grassroots conservationists including the Swan Ecosystem Center, local landowners and small-business owners, and national groups including The Nature Conservancy, convinced Congress, the Montana Legislature and private individuals to invest millions of dollars, safeguarding the Swan Valley.
- Shaping the story. Grizzly bears and wolverines don’t vote. But the Montana Legislature is deeply concerned about losing the local timber industry and the astronomical costs of fighting forest fires in remote, dangerous settings. Resource Media worked with the campaign to explain the benefits of the deal, in terms the cash-strapped Montana Legislature was sure to understand.
- Telling the story. The residents of the Swan Valley were passionate about conserving their valley, but often timid about speaking out. We worked with loggers, foresters, hunting guides and homeowners to help hone their stories. We practiced until they were comfortable before audiences that included national reporters and Congressional subcommittees.
- Leveraging the story. The effort to protect the Swan Valley was newsworthy on several levels. Indeed, one of the most crucial audiences was the people of the Swan Valley itself, a vast area with spotty Internet coverage and no daily newspapers or broadcast outlets. We helped the coalition sort through the whole host of media outlets, from the community bulletin board at the mercantile to national news media.
The Montana Legacy Project is the largest private land conservation deal in American history. Resource Media was proud to play a role in its success. In 2008, conservationists including the Nature Conservancy leveraged enough money to purchase 310,000 acres. Endangered wildlife, including lynx and wolf, grizzly and wolverine, will always have the space they need to roam here. What’s more, locals protected a way of life they highly prize.