FIELD REPORTS: Oregon and Montana

The John Day River in northcentral Oregon is the secondlongest free-flowing river in the continental United States (the Yellowstone is the longest). It supports abundant fish as it winds through scenic, pristine country proposed for wilderness designation.

Scenery, outdoor recreation and other natural assets are important for the region’s prosperity. Alex Phillips, the Sonoran Institute’s John Day field coordinator, is collaborating with organizations and local leaders to integrate protection of the river with local economic aspirations.

Our John Day partners include: the Bureau of Land Management, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, several state agencies, local governments, John Day Basin Trust, Oregon Natural Deserts Association, Sustainable Northwest, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wild Salmon Center.

Alex is one of two new Institute field coordinators promoting long-term conservation and prosperity in special places. After working with residents of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front for the past few years, the Institute hired local citizen leader Corlene Martin in January as our field coordinator there.

Along the Front, a rural area with miles of open space, spectacular views and wild lands, the Institute advocates a solid land-use planning foundation and community visions that incorporate conservation.

Corlene works with communities on the Front, each with a set of challenges related to growth and economic vitality. We are helping Choteau design a city growth policy, while in Dupuyer and Augusta the focus is on water issues and economic development opportunities.

The Institute studied the region’s economic strengths and weaknesses and made recommendations for businesses and communities in this place where prosperity and quality of life are inextricably linked to conservation of its natural assets. This research is the basis for ongoing public education about agriculture, geo-tourism and community development.

The Institute also works collaboratively in the area to complement the efforts of other organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy and The Wilderness Society. With the National Parks Conservation Association and National Geographic Society, we are identifying the shared values of the Crown of the Continent region, including the Rocky Mountain Front.