Land-Use Planning in the High Divide of Montana and Idaho
The Craighead Institute has developed a powerful conservation planning framework, combining hard scientific information with thoughtful land-use planning and policy. Using GIS-based tools to provide a solid scientific foundation, we are maintaining wildlife connections across both public and private lands to critical habitat in the High Divide region of Montana and Idaho.
We are drawn to the Rocky Mountain West by its rare natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Yet, as increasing numbers of us settle here, we threaten those very qualities. On some level, we all understand this dilemma. And on some level, we all want to address it by being the best stewards we can be. The Madison Valley of Montana is such a place. Nestled within a mosaic of public lands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the valley remains rich with wildlife and natural beauty even as it struggles with the increasing pressures of development. The Craighead Institute has been working for decades to help local communities balance human needs and dreams with the needs of wildlife in places like the Madison, and to enhance the quality of human development so that these wild places can remain wild for generations to come.
The High Divide region straddles Montana and Idaho and is home to numerous mountain ranges, valleys, and rivers including the Madison and Jefferson; the Tobacco Root Mountains; and the Madison, Bighole, and Centennial Valleys. Adjacent to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), experts consider it one of the most intact biological areas in the lower 48 states, with abundant wildlife populations of elk, antelope, and deer. The region is also critically important for wolverine and grizzly bear recovery. It is not surprising that this scenic landscape and abundant wildlife have attracted many new residents to the area. This ongoing development, however, has led to an increase in road density, habitat fragmentation, and human-wildlife interaction.