Ecosystem: Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem
Location: Northwestern Montana
Project Type: Conservation Easement
In November 2015, Vital Ground secured 40 acres of grizzly territory through a conservation easement in the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. This donation, generously given by the Berg Family, aims to further habitat recovery and connect crucial ecosystems in the Cabinet Mountains of northwestern Montana. The area has become an important focus since 2008 when Vital Ground teamed with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and found the corridors between northwestern U.S. and Canada to be a top priority for protection and habitat linkage. The Berg property also serves as a land link to other conservation easements that have been obtained in the region and vast tracts of U.S. Forest Service holdings along the Yaak River.
Douglas, Marcia Lee, and grandson Karl Berg were keen observers of how important their property was for the surrounding ecosystem: Grizzly bears, along with other special species such as Canada lynx and wolverines, have been spotted within the region over likely due to the prime biological conditions on the land that provide for important spring and autumn forage sites. This low elevation site, about 2,800 feet above sea level, is host to approximately 20 acres of thriving forestland with trees dating back over 100 years. The remainder of the property, outside of the quaking aspen grove and mature red cedars (among many other species), offers access to several creeks such as Bergie Creek and an offshoot of Meadow Creek, the Yaak River, and expansive fields with views of the valley’s iconic landmark, Mount Baldy.
In addition to the picturesque beauty of the newly donated Berg Property, the easement is a significant step towards conservation goals and securing vital ground for threatened grizzly bears. Protecting this parcel of land from development and establishing a safe location for wildlife away from human contact will provide critical habitat growth for future generations. The commitment and visionary support of donors like the Bergs, aided by the continued efforts of Vital Ground, brings us closer to long-term recovery goals to once again make our earth healthy and whole.