Tag Archives: Headwaters Montana

Headwaters Montana Closes

Headwaters Montana Logo

Press Release

Wednesday, December 10, 2020
Contact:  Dave Hadden, Director, 406-270-3184/ info@headwatersmontana.org

Local Conservation Organization Closes
Establishes Wilderness Scholarship Fund and
Donates to Bigfork and Columbia Falls Conservation Projects

Local conservation organization Headwaters Montana will close its doors at the end of December after some 13 years of work in the Flathead and Kootenai regions advocating for wildlife and wilderness in land management decisions.

The Headwaters board voted in June to close the organization citing funding and other circumstances as the cause.

Board president Roger Sherman said that Headwaters Montana played a significant role in protecting the North Fork of the Flathead Rive from Canadian coal mine development in the early 200’s with passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.  Headwaters marshaled bipartisan local support for the protection measures.

Headwaters also helped lower the temperature of the usually controversial Flathead Forest management plan revision process by initiating the Whitefish Range Partnership that brought diverse stakeholders to the table to resolve complex issues.  The final plan improved snowmobiling opportunities and recommended 80,000-acres of wilderness in the Whitefish Range, for example.

The organization also worked on a range of other conservation issues on the Kootenai National Forest, as well as the Kootenai River pollution from British Columbia, and helped develop alternate sources of funding for non-game wildlife in Montana, among many other issues.

As part of its closing Headwaters Montana has endowed the Loren Kreck and Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund and the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Fund.  Both funds will be managed by the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA).

NFPA president Flannery Coats said her organization looks forward to carrying on some of the legacy work of Headwaters.  “Both these funds will help bring wilderness education and better natural resource management decisions to Montana in general and Glacier Park in particular,” Coats said.

In addition to these funds, Headwaters Montana made significant cash gifts to the Montana Land Reliance’s “Bigfork Natural Area Project”, and the Flathead Land Trust’s “Badrock Canyon Project.”

The Bigfork project hopes to build upon and expand the current trail system along the “Wild Mile” in Bigfork.  The Badrock Canyon Project seeks to protect about 800 outstanding acres along the Flathead River between Columbia Falls and Columbia Falls Heights.

“We’re really pleased to contribute to these two outstanding projects,” said Sherman.  “We hope our donation will inspire others to contribute.”

To learn more about the Wilderness Scholarship Fund or Glacier Park Stewardship Award contact Flannery Coats at 406-407-3863.  Contact Mark Schiltz at 406-837-2178 at the Montana Land Reliance regarding the Bigfork Natural Area Project, and Paul Travis at 406-261-4357 at the Flathead Land Trust for the Badrock Canyon Project.


Headwaters Montana will close doors at end of 2020

Announcement from NFPA President Debo Powers:

Headwaters Montana has been a sister organization to NFPA for decades and Dave Hadden has been one of the most effective conservation advocates of all time in both local and transboundary issues.  We are sorry to see Headwaters Montana close, but we are excited about continuing the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award and the Loren Kreck-Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund. (See details below.)

Here’s the full text of the announcement from Headwaters Montana . . .

Headwaters Montana LogoHeadwaters Montana announces with mixed emotion our board of director’s decision to close our conservation organization by the end of 2020. We want to extend our profound gratitude to all of you who have supported and followed our work. Our successes year after year would have been impossible without your moral and financial support. So, Thank You! We are grateful!

Briefly, we decided to close for several concurrent reasons. First, as executive director I am retiring at the end of the year. Second, our long-tern “President for Life” Edwin Fields passed away in February and the board thinks this event in combination with my retirement is a signal to bring things to a close. And lastly, Headwaters does not have the financial capacity to bring in my replacement; we simply can’t afford to continue

Founded in 2007, Headwaters has filled an important niche in the northwest Montana conservation landscape. We have specialized in working on issues not covered by other local groups. Trout groups, wildlife groups, bird groups, open land groups, smart growth groups, lake groups, and other groups all exist in the Flathead and Kootenai regions. Headwaters has functioned as the only local grassroots groups that works on long-term conservation goals of protecting water and wildlife across the transboundary frontier with British Columbia, a critical conservation corridor.

Our particular focus on transboundary issues with British Columbia included protecting the North Fork of the Flathead River Valley from coal mining in the BC headwaters that culminated in the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2014.

More recently, we have focused on protecting water and fish in the Kootenai River system from the degradation due to mountaintop removal coal mining in BC’s Elk River Valley. We worked to protect the threatened terrestrial wildlife habitat across this transboundary landscape, including the wild core of the Whitefish Range in the Flathead National Forest, the remaining roadless lands in the Canadian Flathead and the Kootenay. (In the U.S. we spell “Kootenai” and in Canada they spell “Kootenay”.) Our work with partners has resulted in millions of dollars for transboundary water quality studies that will lay the groundwork for holding BC accountable for its pollution.

One of the keys to our success has been our willingness to work with almost any stakeholder interested in finding solutions to big problems in open and transparent fashion. The Whitefish Range Partnership exemplified this approach, which we conceived and helped lead over 2012-13. This group of about 30 local citizens and stakeholders met for a year to hammer out a community consensus agreement on a suite of management recommendations for the Whitefish Range as part of the Flathead National Forest management plan revision affecting over 400,000 acres and including an 80,000-acre recommended wilderness.

Similarly, over 2017-19 we pulled together 13 statewide and national groups to form the Montana Wildlife Futures Group that significantly advanced the efforts to find permanent additional funding for non-game wildlife in Montana. We led the Oil Safe Flathead effort to draw attention to the risks and need for action regarding the shipment of Bakken crude oil and other hazardous material along the BNSF rail line running along the Middle Fork Flathead and through West Glacier, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish. We helped the North Fork Trail Association get started as part of citizen effort to help maintain national forest trails.

Around the edges Headwaters Montana accomplished other goals. We are happy to report that the Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award, which we created in 2012, will be passed to the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA). Headwaters will endow this award so that citizens, public employees and non-profit groups will continue to be recognized and rewarded for their effort to protect Glacier Park.

Lastly, when a non-profit closes, it is required by IRS rules to disperse remaining assets to other 501-c-3 non-profits. In 2010, our dear friend and benefactor, Dr. Loren Kreck, bequeathed a substation gift to Headwaters. In addition, the family of Edwin Fields, our recently deceased “President for Life,” will make a gift to Headwaters. We are pleased to announce that the Headwaters board has established the Loren Kreck – Edwin Fields Wilderness Scholarship Fund. This fund will provide educational assistance grants to graduate students with a focus on wilderness advocacy. Once again, the NFPA board has agreed to adopt and manage this scholarship as Headwaters closes its doors.

In closing, we would like to again say, “Thank You!” for your years of support. Our successes are indeed your successes.

Home Ground Radio interviews Headwaters Montana and Stoltze Lumber

From Dave Hadden at Headwaters Montana . . .

If you’re a regular listener and donor to Montana Public Radio, then you’re familiar with the voice of Brian Kahn, the host and producer of “Home Ground Radio.”  Brian sat down with Paul McKenzie and me to discuss the challenges and successes of finding common ground on national forest management issues.

The interview aired on MTPR last Sunday, May 29, but is available for your listening pleasure anytime by clicking here.

In typical Home Ground Radio style, Brian led the conversation from introductions to a ‘take home message.’

Paul McKenzie works for Stoltze Land and Lumber Company in Columbia Falls, Montana, as the land and resource manager.  It’s been my pleasure to get to know Paul as a sincere, intelligent and committed individual who cares deeply about the forest resources he manages and the people employed at Stoltze’s lumber mill.

Paul and I have sat across the table from one another for several years now as part of the Whitefish Range Partnership, and Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition’s Common Ground” committee.

These conversations have been joined by many other individuals representing other constituencies.  The conversations haven’t always been easy.  However, they have been necessary. Continue reading Home Ground Radio interviews Headwaters Montana and Stoltze Lumber

Groups call for more wilderness adjacent to the Bob

MWA and Headwaters Montana are recommending additional wilderness segments adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, mostly in existing roadless areas . . .

Two wilderness groups are recommending additional wilderness in the Mission Mountains, Jewel Basin and Swan Crest areas adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

The Montana Wilderness Association and Headwaters Montana recently released two reports on their recommendations for the Flathead National Forest, which includes 147,315 acres in the Swan Range.

Read more . . .

A response to Senator Daines’ resource development letter

Sen. Daines wrote Montanans on December 19, 2014 asking for feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.”  He also sought feedback on what to do about Montana Wilderness Study Areas. Signed by six prominent conservation groups, the following level-headed response was sent to him last Friday. It’s a lengthy letter, but worth the read. (It is also available for download as a PDF.)


January 23, 2015

The Honorable Steve Daines
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Daines:

We the undersigned groups are sending this letter in response to your December 19 letter seeking feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.” While we appreciate your effort to seek Montanans’ input, we were discouraged by the one-sided framing of issues in your letter. Presenting current government policies as outdated, burdensome and placing severe limits on all energy development does not accurately describe the status quo in our view, nor is this extreme characterization likely to bring diverse Montanans together behind the “balanced solutions” your letter seeks.

Indeed, Montanans across the political spectrum value outdoor spaces and public lands that preserve our natural heritage and enhance our recreation economy, while also promoting responsible resource extraction. The debate on energy and public lands in Montana has progressed beyond the either/or choice between fossil fuel extraction or conservation and recreation. A 2014 Conservation in the West poll confirms this shift, a majority of Montana voters believe we need a balanced approach between energy development and conservation on public lands compared to 27% who think public lands energy development should be strictly limited and 20% who think public lands should be generally open to drilling.

Since your letter specifically requested perspectives on possible release of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), we wanted to make sure you are also aware of the consistent and broad support in the state for our wildest lands. Montanans are outdoors people who are proud of our protected Wilderness Areas — from the Bob Marshall to the Cabinets, Rattlesnake and Beartooth Plateau. In the June 2014, University of Montana state wide poll, 78% of respondents said permanently protecting some public lands in Montana as Wilderness has been a good thing for the state. While 51% support designating additional lands as Wilderness, that support level jumped to 66% in the poll if those designations are “crafted here in Montana with community input and the support of local groups.”

Continue reading A response to Senator Daines’ resource development letter

Dave Hadden: North Fork bill caught up in Montana politics

Well, this is a bit of a coup. If the following piece just posted to the Hungry Horse News looks familiar, that’s because you read it first in the recent NFPA Summer Newsletter.

Anyways, here is Dave Hadden’s take on the damage election year political posturing is doing to even the most broadly supported legislation . . .

Didn’t we all think that the international effort to protect the North Fork Flathead River from coal mining was all but done in 2013?

British Columbia had passed legislation in 2011 banning mining and energy development north of the border. And or the first time in some 20 years, Montana’s congressional delegation all supported a piece of conservation legislation — the North Fork Watershed Protection Act. The stars had finally aligned after 38 years of local, a-political effort to protect the North Fork.

Regretfully, it was not to be.

Read more . . .

2013 Jack Potter Award winner announced

Headwaters Montana just announced the winner of the second annual Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award. Here’s the announcement . . .

Headwaters Montana is pleased to announce the 2013 recipient of the second award made for the protection of Glacier Park’s natural resources.  The winner, the Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates (GNPVA), is credited with marshaling the volunteer help of hundreds of citizen-volunteers to help with many facets of Glacier Park’s operations and protection of resources.

The park’s Volunteer Associates has functioned for years with the best interests of Glacier at its core mission.  In 2013 alone the Association’s volunteers logged over 6,000 of free public service to Glacier.  We think that commitment and what it represents to Glacier merits recognition and celebration.

The Associates has been an active partner with Glacier National Park for almost 25 years, and continues to increase its commitment to the park each year.

Headwaters Montana received five strong nominations for the award in 2013.  Glacier Park finds itself in the care of many dedicated people who cherish the park for its own sake and who recognize the contribution the park makes to our quality and way of life.

This year’s award citation notes that the Volunteer Associates gathers the collective energy and dedication of many citizens and has provided opportunities for service to the public and the park over decades of time that include but are not limited to backcountry and river patrol, backcountry preservation and internships, operation of the Discovery Cabin learning center, assistance to the Native Plant Greenhouse, Transit Center, and restoration projects like the Mount Brown Lookout and Lower Nyak Cabin.

“This award to the volunteers of the Associates is a real honor.  We are a one hundred percent volunteer organization dedicated to stewardship and conservation of Glacier Park,” said Tom Nelesen, volunteer president of the GNPVA. “To my knowledge we have never been recognized like this over the many years of service to Glacier Park,”

The Jack Potter Glacier National Park Stewardship Award is given to an individual, park service employee, or non-governmental organization who demonstrates courageous or above average commitment to the stewardship and protection of the natural resources of Glacier National Park.

The award was established in 2012 to honor the 40-year service of its name-sake, Jack Potter, who retired from public service in Glacier Park as Chief of Science and Resources.

In a very real sense the Volunteer Associates and its many volunteers deserved this award a long time ago.  We’re very pleased to provide this recognition at this time.

The award consists of $200 and a hand-blown glass sculpture of a water ouzel by Bigfork artist Lee Proctor.  The award presentation will occur at the February board meeting of the Associates.

Dave Hadden: It all makes sense from up here

Dave Hadden, Executive Director of Headwaters Montana, spent some time in the Canadian Flathead a short time ago. Here are his thoughts, written as he was on the summit of Mount Haig in the Canadian Rockies . . .

I’m sitting atop Mount Haig in the Canadian Rockies, just 30 miles (48km) from the Montana border and Glacier National Park. In front of me, the broken limestone and shale shards descend in sweeping arcs until they merge with ridge lines that go on forever. Behind me, very close behind me, my seat drops away vertically 2,000 feet to a jewel-like turquoise lake. I could be on top of Siyeh Peak in Glacier, but I’m not. I’m sitting on the highest peak in the proposed new Flathead National Park.

From up here you can see how the land fits together. How a grizzly bear and her cubs might tumble out of their winter den and find security in the high, carved cirque basin to my right from the instincts of male bears or the disturbance of human activities. How the green blush of a new year’s flowering moves up the valleys and canyon walls. How the returning winged-ones find willows and cottonwoods along the Flathead River and tributary creeks or in the tall spruce and pine to regenerate the song-filled air.

Continue reading . . .

Dave Hadden to give Audubon presentation about North Fork

Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana will be talking to the Flathead Audubon Society on Monday about the North Fork . . .

Dave Hadden of Headwaters Montana will update Flathead Audubon members Monday of efforts to preserve the North Fork of the Flathead River. Audubon will meet at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of The Summit, 205 Sunnyview Lane, in Kalispell. All are welcome.

Hadden, director of Headwaters Montana, will describe the effort to increase the size of Waterton Lakes National Park, the status of Senate Bill 233 called the “North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2012” introduced by Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and explain why this area is a vital wildlife corridor.

Continue reading . . .

“Banquet on the Border” draws 90 attendees

Monday, August 20th was the Banquet on the Border; by all reports, a resounding success. Dave Haddon of Headwaters Montana wrote an excellent report on the whole affair. Since this report is still not available online, I am shamelessly stealing adapting large portions of it here . . .

The Banquet on the Border – last Monday, August 20 – celebrated the British Columbia government’s 2011 official act of banning mining and energy development on their side of the watershed; the progress made to date to do the same in the U.S North Fork with Senate Bill 233 (the North Fork Watershed protection Act – still pending); and the other work that is moving forward to enhance protections for water and wildlife in the rest of the watershed, most notably:

  • Completing Waterton-Glacier Peace Park by adding the ‘Missing Piece’ in the BC Flathead, and
  • Protecting the existing international wildlife corridor between Whitefish and Banff National Park.

Headwaters Montana and National Parks Conservation Association organized the party for the south side of the boundary.  Wildsight did so for the north.

Who Showed Up?

We invited the U.S. Border Patrol.  But with the exception of a brief drive up and turn around we were left to securing our own borders and enjoying our neighborliness.

The Canadians outnumbered the Americans 3 to 2 but who’s counting?  Their greater numbers stemmed from the week-long Flathead Bioblitz and Flathead Artists’ Workshop that was based at the Canadian border and had concluded the day before

In addition to the ten Canadian and U.S. scientists who attended the bioblitz and some ten artists, members of the Flathead Wild Team and supporters filled out the Canadian tables.

On the U.S. side, Headwaters Montana board members and supporters showed up in good numbers, as well as representatives of the North Fork Preservation Association, board members of the Flathead Coalition, and The North Fork Landowners Association, North Fork Compact, and representatives for Senator Max Baucus.

20 Years Ago

Steve Thompson with the Cinnabar Foundation (Montana’s home-grown conservation fund) helped deepen the Banquet-goer’s appreciation for this far flung event by reminding folks that champions of the Transboundary Flathead had celebrated with a banquet at the same spot 20 years ago.  Amazingly, four people from that 1992 event were on hand last week... [Our own John Frederick was one of them. – ed.]