Habitat Project:

Teton River

Conserving working lands and key riparian habitat along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front.

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


For nearly all of their history as a species in North America, grizzly bears were as likely to be found on the plains as in the mountains or along the coast. Now, recovering from two centuries of human persecution in the western United States, grizzlies are gradually reclaiming parts of their historic range on the prairies of Montana. Following waterways east out of the Rocky Mountain Front Range, these bears navigate a patchwork of working farms and ranchlands.

The largest conservation project in Vital Ground’s history promises to help grizzlies stay safe across this working landscape. Along the Teton River, the Fellows Family is partnering with Vital Ground and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on a conservation easement for their 4,472-acre ranch.

Farm Bill funding will provide major support for the conservation easement as part of the NRCS Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program. The conservation outcome means the continuation of an open landscape for wildlife and people alike, as well as the protection of a family legacy.

“One of the last things my dad said to me was, ‘Hang on to the place as long as you can,’” says rancher Mark Fellows. “This is one way we can maintain it in perpetuity.” Read more…

Teton River at a Glance

  • Vital Ground's largest conservation easement will protect 4,472 acres near Choteau, Mont.
  • Includes 5 miles of Teton River frontage and 2 miles along Spring Creek tributary
  • Protects riparian corridor in key area seeing increased grizzly traffic
  • USDA Agricultural Land Easement will conserve property as both working land and wildlife habitat