By Published On: May 26, 2015

Montana Partner ‘Neighbors Up’ And Receives Conservation Award

Greg Neudecker practices a holistic approach to land management with an unwavering passion for wildlife and people. His leadership in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana and beyond epitomize why he received the IWJV’s 2015 Conservation Partner Award. This recognition goes to those who make outstanding contributions to an IWJV-sponsored project or initiative, and have played an instrumental role in advancing strategic, landscape-scale habitat conservation.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program State Coordinator for Montana, Greg has played an integral role in partnership-driving habitat restoration in the Blackfoot Valley. For example, the Hoyt Creek Project restored a 420-acre fen for productive fish migration, return of Long-billed Curlews to the area, and an unprecedented increase in forage production. Greg was also key in the establishment of a rest/rotation grazing system on 2,600 acres that utilized a portable electric fence, over six miles of water line to 24 off-site water tanks, and native pasture restoration with re-seeding and weed control. This was all complimented with a FWS conservation easement and a lifetime partnership with landowners. Take these small examples and expand it across 300,000 acres of private lands in the Blackfoot Valley, and it is readily apparent that wildlife/community professionals like Greg are critical to the economy and sustainability of all wildlife species on this landscape.

“Greg’s wisdom and vision has never been specific to any ‘one’ species,” said Jim Stone, a Blackfoot Valley rancher and member of the IWJV Management Board. “Rather, he has a true understanding of community-based conservation, which has led to the valley being noted for having one of the most intact ecosystems in the world.” 

Greg rallied partners to agree to work on the 80% of issues that everyone had in common, leave biases at the door, and roll up their sleeves to get work done for everyone’s benefit. There are major gains to be had when you can recognize habitat needs over your own priorities, slow down to listen to community knowledge, look someone straight in the eye and shake their hand, and most of all, be respectful. These simple rules are transferable and Greg has communicated these concepts across the country. Organizations such as the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Blackfoot Challenge, and Partners for Conservation have benefited from his support but the reach of Greg’s work and approach to conservation extends far beyond the majestic glaciated landscape of the Blackfoot Valley. It is influencing partnership-driven bird conservation across the country. He is now leading trainings at the FWS National Conservation Training Center.

Greg ‘neighbors up’ as a leader, biologist and community member in the Blackfoot Valley – and that approach is rapidly gaining steam in conservation work nationwide. He is respected throughout FWS and he has helped guide a national perspective that proves you need to have landscape CONVERSATIONS before you can have landscape CONSERVATION.

Jim Stone presented Greg Neudecker with a Conservation Partner Award at IWJV’s Fall 2015 Board Meeting.