Our expanded Northern Rockies Program, supported by The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust (Murdock Trust), has made it possible for the NFF to increase support for Idaho and Montana communities that rely on the natural and recreational resources that their nearby National Forests provide.

In 2018, the NFF expanded our regional efforts by adding a Northern Rockies Program. This Program was made possible by the Murdock Trust, which serves communities across the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Through grantmaking, enrichment programs, and convenings, the Murdock Trust supports nonprofits that utilize innovative and sustainable practices to strengthen the region.

The NFF’s Northern Rockies Program benefits rural communities in Idaho and Montana that rely on their adjacent National Forests. The Program focuses on supporting new and ongoing community collaborative efforts, which bring together people from diverse interest groups to help guide management of our public lands. The Program also implements on-the-ground projects to address critical forest and watershed conservation needs. With Murdock and NFF working together, we hope to find and implement solutions to meet the tremendous restoration priorities across National Forests in the Northern Rockies. Here are some highlights from our work over the last year and half:

A new Treasured Landscapes Site for Idaho

In early 2020, the NFF launched the Rivers to Peaks Treasured Landscape site on the Sawtooth National Forest in central Idaho. Through the Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences Program, the NFF will spend the next five years working with local partners and the community to restore forest and watershed health and enhance recreational experiences by investing in trails systems and aging infrastructure.

Cross-Boundary Stewardship with Indigenous Youth

The NFF is working with the Flathead National Forest, Salish & Kootenai College Forestry Department (SKC), and Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Forestry on a new program that will employ SKC and high school students in cross-boundary stewardship of the Mission Mountain range.

The Mission Mountain Divide makes up the eastern boundary of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The east side of the Mission Range is managed by the U.S. Forest Service as federally recognized Wilderness. The west side of the range is managed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as Tribal Wilderness.

Through this paid opportunity, students will gain skills and professional experience in the field of conservation and natural resource management. By maintaining trails, removing invasive plant species, conducting cultural resource surveys, and engaging in vegetation management such as whitebark pine recovery, students will contribute to meaningful on-the-ground restoration actions. Over the course of the program, students are given educational opportunities to learn about native people’s historic uses of the landscape, traditions, and stories of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille people.

Supporting the Development of Montana’s Forest Action Plan

In partnership with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service, the NFF is convening and facilitating the Montana Forest Action Advisory Council. This comprehensive group of stakeholders was appointed by the governor of Montana to help develop and implement the Montana Forest Action Plan.

The purpose of a Montana’s Forest Action Plan is to identify priority areas to address forest health and wildfire risks to communities, watersheds, and infrastructure and propose cross-boundary restoration management solutions.

Facilitation of the Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership

For the past year, the NFF has supported the monthly convening, facilitation, and growth of the The Idaho Forest Restoration Partnership (IFRP). IFRP was formed to help strengthen collaborative forest restoration efforts across Idaho. Through a coalition approach, IFRP connects, informs, and supports collaborative groups working to restore the resilience of Idaho forests.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust (Murdock Trust), is a longtime partner of the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and since 2003 has helped us build our capacity throughout the Pacific Northwest to increase the pace and scale of our community-based work on National Forests. The generous support from the Murdock Trust has not only facilitated a host of regional conservation successes, it has helped the NFF build an effective model for establishing field offices, which the NFF is now employing throughout the U.S.

National Forest Foundation