Fifteen years ago, the Blackfoot Challenge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program won an Innovations in American Government grant from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard to transfer collaborative conservation lessons learned delivering years of locally-led collaborative conservation in western Montana to the rest of the country. One of the outputs from this grant was the creation of a new landowner-led organization to provide a national footprint with a local face supporting the practice of public-private conservation partnerships across the country.
Initially an all-volunteer landowner-led organization, first named Partners for Conservation but now known as Partnerscapes, the group established a partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association in 2013 to hire its first and still only staff person. Partnerscapes’ credibility and authenticity come from the fact that it is led by individual landowners who implement collaborative conservation where they live and are willing to share what they have learned and what they have accomplished with landowners, conservation organizations and agencies, as well as our leaders at all levels.
Partnerscapes developed relationships with supporters and funders enabling it to pay its own way, with just one staff person, and its partnership with the National Wildlife Refuge Association continued for several years. But recently, the boards of the Blackfoot Challenge and Partnerscapes have collectively decided to return Partnerscapes to its roots, with the Blackfoot Challenge becoming home to the Partnerscapes staff.
“Partnerscapes is both honored and extremely appreciative to have the chance to come back to where it all started and we look forward to finding ways to work more closely with the Blackfoot Challenge in supporting collaborative conservation locally, regionally and nationally,” said Partnerscapes Executive Director Steve Jester.
To learn more about Partnerscapes, please visit: https://partnerscapes.org/