By: Stoney Burke
After over 40 years working as a ranch broker I decided to retire and purchase a small ranch for myself . I am now sitting on the back porch of that ranch house looking out over the Blackfoot Valley of Western Montana .
Purchasing this ranch was an easy but informed choice after all the places I had toured and brokered. It was all about the surrounding area and the people who live here. The Blackfoot Valley is one of the few places in the west that remains largely unchanged from the first time I saw it in 1974. How and why did this happen?
By the late 1960s what had been remote western landscapes began to see change. Real estate developers and land speculation was the new highest and best use for ranch land. The Blackfoot Valley, 60 miles east of Missoula was a prime target.
However there were several landowners who did not see it that way. Many became active in finding ways to discourage development and preserve traditional values through collaboration with other ranchers, nonprofits, state and federal agencies. Forty years later the offspring of these early day crusaders is a powerhouse non-profit, The Blackfoot Challenge headquartered in the hamlet of Ovando, Montana. This unique organization works in a diverse ecosystem that encompasses 1.5 million acres, from the continental divide on the east to the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers 10 miles east of Missoula.
This collaborative effort to preserve and enhance the traditional western way of life includes: ranchers, loggers, fishing and hunting guides, wilderness outfitters, land trusts, national nonprofits, state and federal land management agencies. This unique group has become unlikely allies in developing a blueprint of long-term sustainable land and natural resources management that is nationally recognized.
At this writing the Blackfoot Challenge has played a big part of conserving more than 285,000 Acres in this remarkable valley.
This link will take you to an array of ranches for sale in Montana.