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Would Lewis have made it to the Pacific and back without Clark? Without Hewlett, would Packard have founded one of the world’s largest information technology companies? Frodo without Sam? The consequences would have been dire!

Partnerships are more than the sum of the parts. They result in a synergy that can lead to great things.

This is especially true in the Bureau of Land Management, which has a long history of managing millions of acres of land with a small workforce and not nearly enough money to do the kinds of things we’d like to do. Partnerships allow us to accomplish our mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

For example, by having two staff members lead and organize 20 volunteers from a partner organization, we can repair a trail, build a wildlife guzzler, restore a riparian area, or inventory a cultural site. With the dollars that partner organizations contribute to projects, we can restore pheasant or fish habitat, build an interpretive center, acquire public access to public lands, or develop an off-highway vehicle area.

By combining efforts with other governmental agencies, we provide work experience for high school and college students, reclaim mines, ensure healthy game populations, eradicate weeds, and protect vulnerable properties from wildland fires.

In a recent project, the Wild Turkey Foundation and Montana Conservation Corps planted 250 sandbar willow, cottonwood, box elder, golden current, chokecherry, silver buffaloberry and green ash seedlings at Howrey Island along the Yellowstone River. One hundred of the plants were fenced and the other 150 were planted in barriers created by cut Russian olive. This planting occurred on approximately one stream mile of the Yellowstone River (7 acres). The labor came from the Montana Conservation Corps, a youth conservation organization. Projects such as this provide jobs, often seasonal, for the Corps workers.

As a partner in the war on weeds with the Big Hole Watershed Weed Committee, the BLM Butte Field Office participated in numerous weed spray days last year as well as provided challenge cost share funding to stem the establishment and spread of weeds in the Big Hole watershed. This partnership of private landowners, county representatives, nongovernmental organizations and state and federal governments has been involved in a concerted effort to maintain this spectacular landscape since the early 1990s and prevent the spread of weeds.

Our land purchase accomplishments have contributed to land restoration in addition to providing public access and safety, increased recreational opportunities and fish and wildlife habitats. These acquisitions would not have been possible without the assistance of our partnerships with The Conservation Fund, American Public Land Exchange, PPL Montana, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, to name just a few. These partners have purchased properties as the intermediary between the landowner and the United States. In addition, these partners have cleaned up old mining sites, old dumps and old structures prior to conveying the now clean properties to the U.S. It’s extraordinary efforts like these that save taxpayers — you and me — hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

These are just a few examples of the over 350 partnerships in which the Montana/Dakotas BLM participates. Partnerships truly put the “public” in public lands. And we thank all of you who have participated in efforts that enhance America’s original Great Outdoors — the National System of Public Lands.

Jamie E. Connell is BLM Montana/Dakotas State Director.


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