Habitat Project:

Donovan Creek

Protecting a key linkage area between mountain ranges and ecosystems just east of Missoula.

Photo of grizzly bear and aspens in fall color
Photo of grizzly bear and aspens in fall color
Cattle with mountain background
Cattle with mountain background


Connecting the Garnet, Sapphire and Anaconda-Pintler mountain ranges of western Montana, the habitat linkage zone between Missoula and Butte is an increasingly high priority for grizzly bear conservation. The Clark Fork River and Interstate 90 bisect this area, making safe wildlife passage across them a crucial step to larger regional connectivity for the species.

With recent documentation of several grizzlies traveling between the Sapphire and Bitterroot Mountains providing encouragement for conservationists, Vital Ground and a conservation-minded landowner are helping keep open a southward pathway between the Northern Continental Divide and Selway-Bitterroot ecosystems.

On the south side of the Clark Fork near its confluence with Donovan Creek, the new conservation easement lies very close, in fact, to the route that wildlife biologists documented two young grizzlies taking in 2022 as they moved from the Blackfoot Valley and Garnet Range into the Sapphires. Read more…

Donovan Creek at a Glance

  • Conservation easement (34 acres) protects wildlife movement across Clark Fork River
  • Located near confluence with Donovan Creek and an I-90 underpass used by wildlife
  • Part of larger linkage area between Missoula and Butte connecting Northern Continental Divide and Selway-Bitterroot ecosystems
  • Increased grizzly traffic between southern NCDE and Sapphire and Bitterroot mountains makes linkage area a priority