Central Montana Plains
Some of the largest areas of the world’s remaining grasslands are located in Montana. This landscape hosts critical biodiversity, is rangeland for animals that feed the world, and is home to hardworking human communities. Hear about local leadership and nontraditional partnerships working to foster resiliency for people and place in the midst of growing pressures such as land ownership changes and increasing drought.
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Life in the Land: Central Montana Plains
Full film: 39 minutes
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Voices Featured & Podcasts
Each interview is featured in its entirety in its own podcast episode.
Bill is a cattle rancher in the community of Roundup, MT. He and his wife, Dana, always strive to find symbiotic relationships amongst all life on the land. Bill has a particular interest in helping ranchers and local communities figure out how to monitor the health of working landscapes. Bill was a founding board member of the Montana Land Reliance and participates in many working groups in Central Montana. Bill will speak to some of his involvements, including the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, Winnett ACES, the Range Monitoring Group, and a program involving carbon markets with the Western Sustainability Exchange. This segment also features Natalie Berkman, former apprentice for the Milton Ranch through the Quivira Coalition's New Agrarian Program.
Laura returned to her home of Winnett, MT to raise her family and continue her family's tradition as a cattle rancher. Her passion and heart is clearly tied to not only the land and waters here, but the community of Winnett. Laura speaks to her involvements with locally led organization Winnett ACES, whose holistic approach touches on everything from ranch viability, ecosystem health, and reviving old buildings to serve the needs of the community. She also speaks to her work with the Musselshell Watershed Coalition and the value in partnerships and local voices leading the work. This segment also features Aaron Clausen, Senior Program Officer of World Wildlife Fund's Sustainable Ranching Initiative.
Mike is the Region 5 Supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. As a biologist in the Musselshell Watershed for over a decade, Mike learned the importance of establishing relationships with local residents of this landscape, from ranchers to those who grew up fishing this river. As a member of the Musselshell Watershed Coalition, he saw how important it was to have community voices guide the work to ensure true sustainability of the river, and find solutions that benefited all life that depend on the health of this watershed. He also speaks to the need to drop our habits of making assumptions, and the value in connecting our communities to their local rivers.
Bud and Sheila Walsh
Bud and Sheila are ranchers in Phillips County. They have been members of The Nature Conservancy's Matador Ranch for about 20 years. The Matador Ranch is a grassbank that gives discounted grazing rates to area ranchers in exchange for the rancher enacting practices on their home ranches that benefit the local wildlife. The Matador has also become a gathering place for ranchers to exchange ideas and create community, and for researchers to study healthy rangeland management.
Sheila also speaks to her involvement with the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, a rancher led organization that is making a huge impact for the health of the landscape and ranchers' viability. Bud Walsh (Gros Ventre/Aaniiih Tribal Member) speaks to his involvement with the Island Mountain Development Group, an Indigenous led entity that works to improve opportunities for the Aaniiih and Nakoda Nations. This segment also features Charlie Messerly, Ranch Manager for The Nature Conservancy's Matador Ranch.