Gael Bissell

Gael Bissell

Graduating with a B.S in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1975, Gael began working on environmental issues as a biologist for an Environmental Consulting firm in Buffalo, N.Y. Realizing that sitting behind a desk would not work, she made her way west to complete her graduate work at the University of Montana in Environmental Studies. Upon arriving in Montana, Gael knew she would work to protect the terrestrial ecosystems and wildlife of western Montana. From 1984 to 2015, as a career wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Kalispell, she helped develop and implement the state’s wildlife mitigation program for both Hungry Horse and Libby Dams that protected over 200,000 acres of working private lands in northwestern Montana. Gael also actively partnered with Montana private land trusts to conserve thousands of acres of private land through efforts like the Flathead River to Lake Initiative and Alvord Lake Community Forest.

Gael married grizzly bear biologist Dr. Rick Mace in 1984 and they have two children who live in Bozeman and Asheville, NC. After both of their retirements from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in 2015, Gael worked half-time with Vital Ground for several years, focusing her skills on land protection and partnerships. Her work culminated in comprehensive strategic effort between Vital Ground staff and 50 grizzly bear scientists to identify the most important private lands between the Selkirk and Greater Yellowstone ecosystems that researchers and managers agreed were essential for grizzly bear (and other wildlife) habitat connectivity. This mapping and prioritization process became the basis for Vital Ground’s One Landscape Initiative.