Wilderness and Civilization Blackfoot Challenge Field Trip
By Joel Rangel, Photos by Rebecca Boslough
Jim Stone could be quite possibly be one of the most energetic men that we have met so far on our field trips. Jim has an agriculture & economics background with a Fine Arts degree. We found out that his grandfather started the College of Journalism at the UM in the 1900’s.
Jim presented information pertaining to the Blackfoot Challenge community project. It deals with 32,000 acres of river with most of the land being part of conservation easements. The project works with Plum Creek Timber Co. and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to form the Blackfoot Challenge. The Blackfoot Challenge is a collaboration of people to address the problems in the Blackfoot River Valley. The challenge started in 1993 as an information hub, connecting the severed community together. It established an 80/20 rule: 80% of the people that do agree on a particular point to work with the remaining 20% that don’t agree. With this 80/20 rule, the stakeholders allow the particular point of view to continue to move forward without getting stopped up. Every land manager or those with stakes in the Blackfoot valley are included into the conversation. In the beginning, Stone was skeptical on the first meeting and the conversation was the biggest challenge.
Char Water Junction
Jim talked about a couple things while we were at the Char Water Junction:
· The Blackfoot is the 10th endangered river in the U.S.
· Conflicts with people on the land and conversations happened because of these conflicts
· The community thought they should begin to manage their own lands
· Jim Stone – as a land manager
· Private landowner – given $15,000 to study the Blackfoot river
· In retrospect, after 30 years of collaboration, it has become simpler
Jim then went on to talking about the tributaries of the Blackfoot. Jim talked about how he was studying fish with a fish biologist, and that this is how relationships are built and made. They talked about topics such as:
grazing systems, invasive species, and land management.
Rolling Stone Ranch
Jim Stone talked about his fen was straightened, and how he utilizes dams. Then spoke about using senators as a resource and the using the Blackfoot Challenge on a large and small scale. As we were at sitting on a hill overlooking his ranch he talked about taking the system behind the Blackfoot Challenge and applying it to the on the national scale with government involvement. He talked about how we, as students and people in our community and state can be helpful to fix the systems we use. Jim encouraged us to get more involved with our politicians and let the imaginary boundary fall that separates ourselves from our senators. He concluded with the following points:
· We need to believe we can affect change
· Get to know people in your community
· After talking we need to get things done, whatever it took
· Build relationships, because they are powerful