Earth Month Feature: The Conservation and Stewardship Wins of our Partners

Published 2023-04-20

By: Lindsey Browne Davis, MYSTERY RANCH BRAND Ambassador

For years, MYSTERY RANCH has been giving back directly to the community and nonprofit organizations that maintain our public access to the outdoors, conserve healthy wildlife populations, improve aquatic ecosystems, and ensure the next generation of stewardship. From building trails to protecting river corridors, scientific research on wildlife health, and engaging new hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, we owe our outdoor experiences to the organizations who work tirelessly behind these efforts. This Earth Day, we are proud to celebrate some of the key successes of these important partners over the last year, and encourage you to tune into their work and support the advocacy and conservation efforts that our outdoors rely on.

The Conservation Alliance: Protecting Wild Places

The Conservation Alliance represents a coalition of more than 270 businesses who pool resources to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s wild places. In 2022, The Conservation Alliance matched an all time high in giving with $2.2 million awarded, 56 projects funded, and 14 projects completed – protecting 178,815 acres and river miles. Now a quarter of the way into 2023, they have seen a handful of long standing campaigns and historical successes cross the finish line, protecting over 10 million acres of land in Alaska, Minnesota, Texas, and Nevada. Since 1989, the Alliance has helped protect 83 million acres of wildlands and 3,580 river miles, remove or halt 37 dams, purchase 21 climbing areas, and designate five marine reserves.

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The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP): Convening Sportsmen and Women for Conservation

TRCP is the largest coalition of conservation organizations in the country, uniting and amplifying the voices of sportsmen and women by convening hunting and fishing groups, conservation organizations, and outdoor businesses to a common purpose. This year, the hunting and fishing community has been able to celebrate several significant conservation victories. With the passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, state and federal agencies will have to invest in better surveillance and testing for this disease in our deer and elk populations. The TRCP-led MAPLand Act was also passed, which requires federal agencies to digitize their paper maps and access records, and make this information publicly available. Additionally, many Western states are funding the development of wildlife crossings over major highways, helping to stop vehicle collisions and save lives.

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The Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT): Conserving Land and Public Access

GLVT connects people, communities, and open lands through the conservation of working farms and ranches, healthy rivers, and wildlife habitat, and the creation of trails. In that time, GVLT has partnered with about 100 families to conserve more than 52,000 acres of productive agricultural land, bustling wildlife habitat, and scenic open space in perpetuity. The GVLT Main Street to the Mountains Trail system now reaches over 100 miles, connecting trail users from Main Street to the peaks of the surrounding mountain ranges, providing recreation and connection to nature. In 2021-22, GVLT worked alongside Gallatin Valley residents and the City of Bozeman to secure 12 additional acres on the southern end of Peets Hill, Bozeman’s own “Central Park.” Throughout the community, GVLT cultivates a culture of stewardship for trails and conservation, working to safeguard this special place.

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Conservation Visions: Protecting Wild Harvests

Conservation Visions is a global wildlife initiative dedicated to the preservation of wild species, wild spaces, and human cultural diversity. The Conservation Visions Team supports the application of science, as well as Indigenous, traditional, and local knowledge in environmental management. 2022 was an excellent year for Conservation Visions’ Wild Harvest Initiative®, the first serious effort to evaluate the combined economic, conservation, and social benefits of recreational wild animal harvests in modern American society. The group completed hunting harvest data collection and quality assurance testing for all US states for 2016-2019, began economic analyses to determine the comprehensive food value of wild meat, finalized wild meat sharing and consumption surveys in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, and Alaska, produced four new films, and added three new partners to the Partnership Alliance (including the US Forest Service, Wild Sheep Foundation Midwest Chapter, and Safari Club International San Angelo), and engaged significantly on the international stage with both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

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Zion Forever: Access and Youth Education

Zion Forever saw the first 10 miles of new mountain bike trails officially open for public use with their East Zion Mountain Bike Trails project. The land that these trails occupy was formerly slated for commercial developments. Through the generosity of landowners and with the securement of trail and conservation easements, the land is now home to accessible mountain bike trails for riders of all skill levels.

We also continued one of the key projects that Zion Forever Project funds, the longstanding education program Concrete-to-Canyons. This program brings students from Title 1 schools in Las Vegas and Mesquite, Nevada to Zion National Park for their first park experience. The program includes talks with rangers, learning about the park, and basic camping skills, such as how to set up camp.

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One Montana: Hunter Education and Stewardship

One Montana operates the Montana Master Hunter Program which provides advanced hunter education that increases skills, competence, ethical behavior, and knowledge of agriculture and stewardship. With support from MYSTERY RANCH the program has graduated nearly 300 Master Hunters, over 80 of whom volunteered for service projects in 2022 and provided more than 600 combined volunteer hours. It has also helped grow the Outside Kind campaign and help share best practices and etiquette for enjoying and conserving our public resources.

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Montana Wilderness School: Youth Backcountry Access and Education

Montana Wilderness School immerses students (14 to 18) in backcountry expeditions for one to three weeks where they discover the beauty of Montana’s glorious landscapes and waterways, the importance of healthy public lands, and gain the confidence to tackle physical and mental challenges. To date, they have raised more than $800,000 to ensure that under-resourced youth are able to participate in these programs and experience the outdoors.

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Big City Mountaineers: Connecting Youth to the Outdoors

Big City Mountaineers is a national nonprofit that provides transformative experiences through connections to nature that strengthen life skills and build community for youth from disinvested communities. They work to make the outdoors more accessible for youth who face barriers of access, with the aim to inspire a generation of young people to embrace their self potential and take care of their well-being, their communities and the natural world.

Youth ages 13 – 18 who participate in their programming develop technical skills, experience teamwork in the outdoors, and develop a connection with nature and with themselves that translate into a greater sense of belonging, self-efficacy, resilience, empathy and strength.

Program participants benefit from the transformative power of nature through their time outside, resulting in a very personal connection with the issues of environmental stewardship and sustainability. They center sustainability through the reuse of gear from program year to program year, ensuring a do-no-harm method of gear consumption within our organization. In 2022 Big City Mountaineers was able to deliver over 22,700 trail hours for youth around the country.

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MYSTERY RANCH is proud to support the incredible work behind these organizations. To learn more about all of the nonprofits we support, head here: