Tester Visits Powell County Ranch To Meet Land Management Group


by Alissa Irei

POWELL COUNTY, Mont. — It's conservation, through conversation.

In the Blackfoot River Valley a group of ranchers, federal and state land managers, and ecologists are working together to protect the area's natural resources. They're doing it through conservation easements, education programs and river and land restoration projects.

They don't always agree.

"Most days we can all agree on the 80 percent, but so often we get stuck on that 20 percent," rancher Jim Stone said. "And so when we come in the door and sit down to meet with our partners, we work on the 80 percent."

Sen. Jon Tester is an advocate of the project. He stopped by Stone's Ranch on Saturday to visit with the Blackfoot Challenge coalition.

"We just really want to thank him for his support, and really show off the good things that we can do when we all work together," Stone said.

Tester says these kinds of projects are crucial to the future of Montana, and crucial to the future of the country.

"They can keep this landscape as whole as they possibly can and really manage it for future generations, while they continue to make a good living here," he said.

He added that without groups like the Blackfoot Challenge, too much could disappear.

"You have a real possibility of losing a way of life, which has been very, very good for this state and this country," he said. "[They're] saving the landscape for future generations."