Mission: Vital ground helps ensure the recovery and long-term survival of grizzly bears, together with the many native species that share their range, through the protection and restoration of core habitats and landscape linkages.
Programs: Land conservation: vital ground identifies crucial grizzly bear habitat on private land and works with willing landowners to protect the land's conservation values. This is accomplished through the voluntary placement of donated or purchased conservation easements on the land, or the outright purchase of land. Vital ground has a perpetual responsibility to monitor the lands on which it holds conservation easements and ensure adherence to the terms of the conservation easements. Vital ground has a responsibility to restore and manage the lands it owns to provide quality habitat for the benefit of grizzly bears and associated wildlife. In addition to developing and managing its own projects, vital ground occasionally provides grants to agencies and other nonprofit conservation organizations to assist with their efforts to conserve and restore important wildlife habitat. 2014 accomplishments include:conservation easements: secured one new conservation easement totaling 240 acres, located at the confluence of the ninemile and clark fork river valleys of western montana. Monitored thirteen conservation easements in montana, two conservation easements in idaho, and four forest legacy conservation easements in idaho (all easements acquired prior to 2014). Continued working to advance the alvord lake community forest project in lincoln county, mt. In coordination with the u. S. Forest service - kootenai national forest, vital ground is working towards the fee title acquisition of 142 acres of productive forestland that will be managed to protect its conservation values and provide enduring access and other benefits to the public. Continued working to advance the selkirk-purcell-cabinet linkage initiative in northwestern montana and north idaho-an effort to conserve key grizzly bear habitat linkages between the selkirk, purcell and cabinet-yaak ecosystems. Continued working to advance the swan valley grizzly bear conservation initiative in missoula and lake counties montana-an effort to conserve key grizzly bear habitat and linkages between the bob marshall wilderness and mission mountains wilderness areas. Land acquisition and management:monitored seven fee-title conservation properties in idaho and two fee-title conservation properties in montana (all acquired prior to 2014). Conducted habitat enhancement activities on properties held for the benefit of wildlife in bonner and boundary counties, idaho and in lincoln and missoula counties, montana. Vital ground provided a $25,000 grant to the western rivers conservancy to facilitate the organization's bennett meadows acquisition addressing a 2,400-acre private in-holding in the colville national forest in northern washington. This project will ultimately assist the u. S. Forest service in consolidating ownership of lands within the colville national forest boundary, protect important core and linkage habitat for wildlife, and secure continued public access to the area.
conservation education: vital ground provides information about grizzly bears, associated wildlife, and habitat conservation issues through its publications, special mailers, website, email communications, social media, live presentations, videos and other media opportunities. The organization also participates in collaborative educational programs to promote the conservation of grizzly bears and their habitat, minimize conflicts between bears and humans, and enhance the survival of grizzly bears. 2014 accomplishments include:produced 14,500 copies of vital news, the organization's biannual 16-page newsletter which reports on grizzly bear and wildlife habitat conservation issues, project opportunities, and accomplishments. Produced six electronic newsletters that were distributed to approximately 3,700 unique recipients (22,000 total communications). These electronic newsletters reported on grizzly bear and wildlife habitat conservation issues, emerging project opportunities, conservation accomplishments, and funding needs. Produced eight special mailers (127,000 pieces) that reported on grizzly bear and wildlife habitat conservation issues, emerging project opportunities, conservation accomplishments, and funding needs. Maintained a website (www. Vitalground. Org) that provides comprehensive information to the public about grizzly bears, wildlife habitat conservation issues, current grizzly bear conservation challenges and project accomplishments. During 2014, the website received 160,296 visits resulting in 440,000 page views. Promoted wildlife habitat, grizzly bear natural history and conservation education topics to a social media audience of 9,100. Continued working to advance vital ground's grizzly bear conservation education partnership with the chicago zoological society at the brookfield zoo's great bear wilderness exhibit. Conservation education grants awarded ($1,500):awarded a $250 grant to the swan ecosystem center in condon, montana to help support the swan valley wilderness ranger program. Awarded a $250 grant to the center for large landscape conservation to help sponsor the 5th annual roundtable on the crown of the continent conference in waterton park in alberta, canada. The conference focused on ways to sustain and enhance culture, community, and conservation. Vital ground made a $1,000 grant to montana's outdoor legacy foundation to help the foundation promote awareness of exemplary individual efforts to conserve natural resources that provide outdoor opportunities for the public. Other:in addition to its land conservation and conservation education programs, vital ground may also participate in research and management projects designed to promote the conservation of grizzly bears and their habitat, minimize conflicts between bears and humans, and/or enhance the survival of grizzly bears. 2014 accomplishments include: vital ground provided a $10,000 grant to western wildlife outreach to support a collaboration between wwo and the u. S. Fish and wildlife service involving wwo's management and deployment of the usfws's "northwest bear education trailer". The grant was designed to assist wwo in conducting outreach to public audiences living, working or recreating in grizzly bear habitat to promote bear awareness and human-carnivore coexistence. Vital ground provided a $5,000 "community bear aware" grant to swan valley bear resources. Vital ground's contribution was used to implement a bear resistant-garbage container loaner program, assists landowners with small livestock to erect bear-proof electric fences, and allow svbr's trained staff to engage with the public to share information about bears and bear safety.