2020 Regional Director’s Partnership Award

The Regional Director’s Partnership Award recognizes either individuals or organizations that have contributed significantly to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mountain-Prairie Region’s priorities over the past year. The award was established to honor the people and partnerships without which the Service could not optimally achieve its conservation mission.

For visionary leadership and dedication to partnerships serving conservation and ranching communities, the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance was awarded the 2020 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Mountain-Prairie Regional Director's Partnership Award. The award was presented by Regional Director Noreen Walsh on December 8, 2020, at the virtual RSA December Board Meeting.

The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) was formed in 2003, by a group of north central Montana ranching families who were concerned about natural resources management and the future of ranching in the region. Their mission statement says it all: Ranching, Conservation, Communities - a winning team! Their vision has helped the organization grow from a local group to a regional leader for collaborative, community-based conservation.

Since 2017, RSA has worked hand-in-hand with the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to support on-the-ground restoration and enhancement projects across one of the highest priority grassland and sagebrush landscapes in the west.

From 2017-2020, our partnership has leveraged nearly $3 million for conservation in this landscape. To date, we have restored and enhanced nearly 13,000 acres of native grassland, 31,000 acres of grazing systems, 15,000 acres of exotic grass rehabilitation, and more than 15 miles of wildlife-friendly fence modifications, which are incredible accomplishments!

In addition, all of RSA’s work has been done in a fully transparent and collaborative way, with an innovative conservation committee involving all local conservation partner groups. It is impressive that RSA has at least 12 agencies and organizations that have participated actively on this committee.

Despite challenging times, hard conversations and compromise, RSA was dedicated and never gave up, but rather came together as a community and made things happen. Now, new landowner-driven organizations are starting to spring up in other nearby communities, which will benefit from the lessons RSA has learned and be able to transfer many of their great ideas.

The Ranchers Stewardship Alliance has been critical in helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service achieve our conservation goals. We applaud RSA for being amazing partners who are working every day to be incredible stewards of the land, innovative leaders in agriculture and conservation and maintain sustainable rural communities for future generations.

Originally published at: https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/PartnershipAwards.php.

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