New Partnership to Conserve Sagebrush in Southwest Montana

The following news release was originally published here by The Nature Conservancy in Montana.

The sagebrush country of Southwest Montana is a patchwork of private and public lands as diverse as the people who work, live and recreate here. It’s a setting where partnership just makes sense. That’s why The Nature Conservancy (TNC) joined forces on a project to develop new tools and direct conservation and restoration resources to the places where they're needed most.

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Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands is a collaborative effort of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) that stretches across the West. In Montana, TNC is teaming up with this partnership to support sagebrush conservation in the High Divide Headwaters region. The partnership invests in field delivery of conservation projects, science and communications on public lands and is modeled after the private land conservation practices pioneered by the Sage Grouse Initiative.  On June 11, Sean Claffey begins the job as Southwest Montana Conservation Coordinator for the project.

“The Conservancy is fortunate to be in a position where our science-based conservation goals for southwest Montana’s sagebrush country align so seamlessly with those of our partners. Plus, these partnerships are solid enough to truly move the needle on conservation across public/private boundaries.  The BLM/IWJV support adds the final ingredient in what I see as a ‘perfect storm’ for sagebrush conservation,” said Jim Berkey, TNC Montana’s High Divide Headwaters Director. 

Claffey will be working with private and public partners to manage and advance cross-boundary habitat restoration and enhancement projects within the High Divide Headwaters region. His responsibilities will include facilitating communication and coordination between regional partners and other organizations. In this role, Claffey serves the Southwest Montana Sagebrush Partnership to stimulate, coordinate and complete priority habitat restoration and enhancement projects within sagebrush steppe and associated systems. 

"I'm looking forward to supporting the momentum that the Southwest Montana partnership is generating for broad conservation efforts. We have a really great group of folks in the region that have been working together across the landscape. This opportunity to support those efforts, by encouraging even more collaboration and pushing more cross-boundary projects, is almost a dream come true for me,” said Claffey.

The goal is to build strategic, scientific and technical capacity in the field, deepen key partnerships, identify and resolve technical issues and widely communicate solutions and best practices.  

“The BLM Dillon Field Office has been working with partners for many years in Southwest Montana and these partnerships have made resource management much more effective.  Sean has been an exceptional colleague at the BLM’s Dillon Field Office and we are excited to continue to work with him and our great partners to expand and coordinate restoration efforts and improve land health for the benefit of everyone," adds Patricia Fosse,  Assistant Field Manager for Renewable Resources at the BLM Dillon Field Office.

The position is also supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the Beaverhead Watershed Committee.

This is a 3-year, grant funded position that will be based at the BLM office in Dillon.

For more information about Partnering to Conserve Sagebrush Rangelands visit

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