Dear Friend,

As we approach yet another winter solstice, Doug and I have been reflecting on Vital Ground’sdoug_bart_special_moment
conservation history, the need for habitat linkages, and our deep concern about this beautiful planet. All these matters are connected in our spirits, to both our human family’s need and the grizzly bear’s need for a home and security – ideals that we cherish and celebrate at the family dinner table at year’s end.

Reflection
We remember well the moment we decided to protect wild land for bears and other wild creatures. We were filming “The Bear” in Italy 30 years ago, high in the Dolomite Mountains, far above timberline with Bart and the cubs.

Suddenly there was a commotion and Uri, the art director, and I walked swiftly, but cautiously, to see what the spectacle might be. We joined alpine hikers and crew members that stood in silent wonder beholding … a marmot.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Uri,” I laughed. “That’s just a rock chuck!” He turned to me and said, very sadly, “You don’t understand, Lynne, that’s all we have left.” I looked up at the spectacular, towering peaks above and then down at the tiny, golden creature. I realized that this was not a laughing matter. These magnificent mountains were just scenery: dead, barren, silent scenery with very little life.

That night I sat alone with Bart and made him a promise. I promised that this life he was born into, his life in our human world, would matter for his wild kin – matter deeply and dearly.

That was three decades ago. Since, we have achieved more than our wildest dreams. Together, we have helped to conserve and enhance over 618,000 acres of wildlife habitat in the Northern Rockies and Alaskan estuaries for grizzlies, wolverine, Canada lynx, woodland caribou, northern goshawk, white sturgeon, the rare wildflower water howellia, and even the Mongolian grizzly. All are Bart’s wild kin.

Connection
Those protected acres make up the wild strongholds of habitat in the Lower 48 states. But these safe havens remain isolated and disconnected, like an hour glass that is clogged in the middle. We need to protect more than islands of habitat. For grizzly recovery to succeed, we need a path of connected land from Canada to Yellowstone.

With the help of bear biologists, Vital Ground is identifying priority lands needed for a connected web of wild country. Bear managers are also helping earmark existing or probable bear-human conflict areas where we can direct your continued support to best help grizzly recovery efforts.

Apprehension
Tackling this challenge won’t be easy. Humans are filling up the region and current predictions for growth in the Northern Rockies are unprecedented and alarming. With more houses, asphalt and traffic, the potential for conflicts between bears and humans increases. When these conflicts happen, the Great Bear always loses, and so does everything else.

Is our species really the only one that matters? Will our beloved Rockies turn into the lifeless landscape of the Italian Dolomites? We need your help now to protect the habitat connections that will make this place vibrant and resilient for generations to come. All these creatures are at the edge of a cliff – they don’t have to jump off. Together we can help them turn around.

Help Continue Bart’s Legacy
We have a lot of work to do, but it’s also important to pause and appreciate the abundance of what we have. Doug and I are beyond blessed to have you, the Vital Ground family, carrying on Bart’s legacy through your continued support. In the last year, you helped us protect Wild River, a wildlife-rich meadow along Montana’s Kootenai River that is vital to creating a wildlife corridor between northwest Montana and Canada. Together, we have taken a pebble out of the middle of the hour glass.

There is great joy in remembering and celebrating the life and legacy of Bart, and his gift to his wild kin. At a time when there is so much chaos and worry in the world, I can’t imagine better work to do.

Today, Doug and I again ask for your help to protect habitat for Bart’s wild cousins. As an incentive, we received $90,000, our largest-ever matching-gift challenge. Your Bart Memorial contribution today will help ensure the matching offer will connect vital grizzly habitat next year.

If we act now, we can avoid the bleak void we witnessed in the Dolomites and be certain the Northern Rockies remain the vibrant walkways of our world. For grizzly bears. For all walks of life. Forever.

Yours for the Wild,

Lynne and Doug Seus

P.S. Remember that today’s gift will be doubled! You can continue your support by donating (below) or or phone 406-549-8650.