Montana presents Montana Neighbor Awards

News
May 7, 2010
by WLJ

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has presented four landowners with the 2010 Montana Neighbor Award for exemplifying Montana’s traditional neighborly spirit.

“I congratulate each of this year’s winners for their leadership. They are truly great neighbors and Montanans,” said Schweitzer.

Montana Neighbor Award winners are selected each year by a committee comprised of the Montana Alliance of Land Trusts, Montana Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and Artemis Common Ground.

Representatives of production agriculture and the governor’s office also serve on the awards committee.

Awards were given to Annie and Bob Graham of Madison Valley, MT; Calvin Erb of Wisdom, MT; Stoltze Lumber Company of Columbia Falls, MT; and Leo Barthelmess of Malta, MT.

Annie and Bob Graham worked with conservation and angler groups, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and local citizens to ensure public access to the property they purchased on the Madison River for fishing, hiking and bird watching. They placed conservation easements on 11,000 acres of ranchland through the Montana Land Reliance and enrolled about 8,300 acres in Montana’s Block Management Program to provide public hunting access.

Calvin Erb played a key role in the development of the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances on the Big Hole River. The agreement protects landowners from penalties under the Endangered Species Act if they take steps to improve Arctic grayling habitat. In part due to Erb’s efforts, 33 private landowners are involved with conservation activities on more than 160,000 acres.

Stoltze Lumber Company is a local leader in streamside and riparian management practices, and is an active partner in land stewardship and wildlife management planning. Stoltze is the force behind the Family Forestry Expo, an annual educational event, and is a committed cooperator in the state’s Block Management Program that provides public hunting access.

Leo Barthelmess is a member of a multi-generation ranching family and is widely recognized for his commitment to the ranching community and quality range management. He is a leader of the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance which recently received funding to improve wildlife habitat on thousands of acres of private ranchland in Phillips County. Barthelmess has also been active in the state’s Sage Grouse Working Group.

Award criteria include cooperation, land stewardship and conservation ethic, neighborly land access, and community leadership. — WLJ

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