February 2017
2017 Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent Conference 

Choteau, Montana
SEPTEMBER 25-27, 2017
at the Stage Stop Inn!

Details coming your way soon!

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (SSRP) has been amended to facilitate enhanced protection of the Castle Area.  Adjacent to Waterton Lakes National Park and part of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, the Castle Area is internationally recognized as an important, biologically diverse ecosystem critical to connecting protected areas along Alberta's Southern Rocky Mountains. In the 2015 election, the Government of Alberta made a commitment to enhance the protection of the Castle Area. This includes the creation of the Castle Provincial Park and the Castle Wildland Provincial Park which will come into effect on February 16, 2017.  As the Castle Parks are located within the South Saskatchewan Region, the SSRP has been amended to support government's commitment. (Read more in Neighborhood News and  here .)

Dear Friends, 
You've been busy! Following an outstanding Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent conference last October in Fernie, British Columbia (see report here), there have been many meetings, policy changes, and new initiatives in our northern Rockies trans-boundary landscape. You'll find a few of those highlights in this newsletter.

Last month, the Leadership Team of the Roundtable met in Essex, Montana to take a fresh look at priorities for the coming year, the most important of which is to keep us connected! You can look to September 25-27 at the Stage Stop Inn in Choteau, Montana as one of those opportunities - that's the 8 th Annual Roundtable Conference, and you are invited. Watch for details in the next newsletter. There will be more news, too, about a Tribal Crown Managers meeting in 2017.

Our coordinator, Kim Davitt, moved on last December - but we are happy to report that she is now a member of our Leadership Team. This month, I filled her position. I am in the final stages of my Masters in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, where I am also pursuing a certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution. After time spent in eastern Washington and Alaska, I am deeply grateful to call western Montana and the wider neighborhood of the Crown my new home. My passions center on landscapes that are whole and healthy, whether working or pristine. I come at this work with a deep respect for the people who inhabited this region before us, and look forward to collaborating with all of you to steward it as a regional community.

Please tell me more about your activities in the Crown for next month's newsletter at the email address below.

Until then, best wishes to all!

Peter Gurche, Roundtable Coordinator
Montana's Ryan Zinke Poised as 
 U.S. Secretary of the Interior

When 5th generation Montanan Ryan Zinke is fully confirmed as U. S. Secretary of the Interior, he will become the first former Navy Seal (he served for 23 years) and first Montanan in a cabinet position. The job is enormous: he will head up a 70,000-employee agency responsible for managing more than 260 million acres of public land -- nearly one-eighth of all land in the United States. He will also supervise all national parks, BLM lands, wild and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges and will represent the interests of all Native Americans.
Zinke is a Republican congressman from Whitefish, Montana who started his political career as a Montana legislator from 2008-2012 where he fought for development setbacks along Montana's rivers. He ran for and lost the Montana Lieutenant Governor seat in 2012.  He now serves as Montana's sole representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
It will take time to learn more about Zinke's hopes for the Department. In the meantime, people are reviewing his record for insights into his views on public land management. Here are some of his past positions and decisions:
  • He opposes the transfer or sale of public lands to the states; but he has stated support of management of federal lands by states.
  • He supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenue from offshore oil drilling to fund conservation.
  • He championed designating East Rosebud Creek as Montana's first new Wild and Scenic River in 40 years.
  • He did not support federal legislation to withdraw 435,000 acres of the North Fork Flathead River watershed bordering Glacier National Park from new mining and oil and gas drilling, because the ban was permanent.
  • He is in favor of streamlining permitting to allow more coal mining and oil and gas drilling on federal public lands.
In November 2016, Zinke carried the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act through the House of Representatives. The bill helps quantify water rights on the Blackfeet Reservation and surrounding Native territory.
One thing is clear: Ryan Zinke is a native of a nationally treasured landscape that shines with an abundance of natural resources, public lands and hunting grounds. This diverse and iconic place will ultimately serve as the underpinning for the decisions he will face as Secretary of the Interior.
(Here's a related article from the Flathead Beacon with statements from Montana's Governor Bullock and U.S. Senator Tester)

Roundtable Leadership Team
Len Broberg
University of Montana
Mike Bruised Head
Blood Tribe
Jean Curtiss
Missoula County Commissioner
Kim Davitt
Vital Ground

Ian Dyson 
Crown Managers Partnership,
Alberta Environment and Parks 

Larin Guenther
Oldman Watershed Council 

Rich Janssen
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

Shawn Johnson
Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
Todd Larsen
East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council
Stephen Legault
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative
Jeff Mow
Glacier National Park
Nic Milligan
Teck Coal

Sheena Pate
Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council 
Mary Sexton
Private landowner, consultant
Melly Reuling
Center for Large Landscape Conservation
John T. Shannon 
U.S. Forest Service Regions 1 & 4 
Jim Stone
Blackfoot Challenge
Paul Travis
Flathead Land Trust 
Melissa Weatherwax
Blackfeet Nation
Roundtable Support Staff
Peter Gurche, Coordinator
(509) 385-7312

Sue Higgins, Consultant
(406) 586-8082

Lea Whitford, Tribal Liaison
(406) 450-4057

Roundtable Co-Founders
Matt McKinney, University of Montana
Gary Tabor, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

Neighborhood News
Blackfeet set April 20 for water compact vote. Great Falls Tribune, January 10.

Choteau rancher in Sundance Festival film.  Great Falls Tribune, January 27 .

Lethbridge, area growth among fastest in the nation. Lethbridge Herald, February 9.
New twist in efforts to transfer Bison Range to Indian tribes. Missoulian, January 18.

Faced with Mussel Threat, Flathead Basin Commission Urges Heightened Prevention Efforts. Flathead Beacon, February 6.

Regional News 
Phillips: Protecting Castle parks is an important step for future generations, Calgary Herald, January 26. Related story:
Legault: Perseverance pays off with protection of wild places

Ten things to check out in Alberta.  The Star, February 3.

Documentary about 90-year-old Montana ultra marathoner and Crown traverse a finalist at Banff film fest. Billings Gazette, November 7

Water charter proposed for southern Alberta. Lethbridge Herald, January 22.

Behind the Battle Over Public Land. Flathead Beacon, February 28.

Beyond The Region 
Daines to Lead National Parks Subcommittee. Daily Interlake, January 31

Why Canada Matters On World Wetlands Day. Huffington Post, February 3.

After a century, the bison are back in Banff National Park. Calgary Herald, February 6.

Hordes of Geese Die on a Toxic Lake in Montana. New York Times, December 12.

For Justin Trudeau, Canada's Leader, Revival of Keystone XL Upsets a Balancing Act. New York Times, January 25.
Announcements and Resources
You will find outcomes of the Alberta Prairie Conservation Forum's Transboundary Grasslands Partnership January 2017 workshop here. This event included an Indigenous Forum followed by a 2-day workshop involving tribes and First Nations, landholders, NGOs and agencies from Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan 

See Alberta Aquatic Invasive Species Program Updates: Inspections, response efforts, education and more here!

Winter Speaker Series to Showcase Iconic Species, '100 Days of Solitude'.  Flathead Beacon

Montana Releases Strategy to Detect, Contain and Control Invasive MusselsFebruary 15 presentation, Salish Kootenai College.

Securement 101 KCP Webinar: The Basics of Protecting Private Land Through Covenants and Acquisitions, Nature Conservancy Canada, February 15.

Alberta Ecotrust announces second annual Environmental Gathering: Breaking ThroughFebruary 23-25, Edmonton

Crown Managers Partnership Forum "Improving Drought Resilience: Forest to Valley Bottom" March 14-16, Choteau, Montana . Find more here . The Forum is organized by the USDA Forest Service (Northern Region) in partnership with:  the Crown Managers Partnership, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, USDA Northern Plains Climate HUB, SNAPP Ecological Drought working group, Alberta Environment and Parks, and the Crown Roundtable. 
It will bring together agency, non-agency, tribes, and First Nations managers/land owners of forested, range/agricultural, and riparian systems; in addition to, scientists and other organizations that assist land managers in applying climate and drought information. 

Montana Watershed Coordination Council announces it new Spring Webinar Series starting in April

Report: Montana's outdoor attractions provide huge economic boost in 2016.  Missoulian, February 5.

The Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent provides a bi-monthly e-newsletter to help connect people and organizations to news and events around the Crown. 
If you have an event or news item, an update from your group, or just a great picture to share, please send that information to peter.gurche@umconnect.umt.edu  by March 31 for inclusion in the April newsletter.