GROUPS WE SUPPORT: Montana Wilderness Association
We take a large amount of pride in our history of outspoken advocacy for conservation and access causes (locally, regionally and globally), as well as in our efforts to support conservation, education and recreation groups that are on the front-lines of protecting and preserving the wild lands we love and depend on, and this ongoing series will serve to highlight and promote these all-important groups. For a full list of the groups we support, click here.
With 77 named mountain ranges, all a part of the Rocky Mountains, it's no wonder Montana is a derivative of the Spanish word for "mountain." Montana is also known for wide open places and wilderness that is not crossed by a road for hundreds of miles. Hoping to keep these wild places an asset for people to enjoy for generations to come, the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) was formed over half a century ago. We recently caught up with Laura Parr, an operations associate for MWA, to find out more about it:
How and why did the MWA come to be?
The MWA is Montana's largest and most effective grassroots wilderness organization. Founded in 1958, MWA works with communities to protect Montana's wilderness heritage, quiet beauty, and outdoor traditions, now and for future generations. From its beginning, MWA has led the fight to win designation of virtually every wilderness area in the state, including the Scapegoat, Anaconda-Pintler, Absaroka-Beartooth, Rattlesnake, Lee Metcalf, Great Bear, and Welcome Creek, as well as Wild and Scenic designations for the Flathead and Missouri Rivers.
How has the focus of the MWA evolved over time?
Our vision has always been for a Montana where certain pristine public lands are permanently protected as federally designated wilderness, thus ensuring biodiversity, clean headwaters and sustainable economic opportunities for nearby communities that thrive in co-existence with abundant wild places.
What are some of the current goals for the MWA?
MWA is known for building partnerships and collaborating with non-traditional allies to form creative and lasting ways of protecting vital fish and wildlife habitat, important watersheds, and millions of acres of threatened roadless landscapes. MWA is working to educate and organize people to protect Montana's public lands and empower those people to shape and influence policy on conservation issues.
We carry out a wide range of activities in the firm conviction that environmental protections arise from an educated and engaged citizenry. Leadership for the 5,500-member organization is provided by an active state council elected by the membership, a dedicated 13-person staff, six offices, and six local chapters comprised of hundreds of volunteers from across Montana.
How does Black Diamond support the MWA?
Black Diamond supports us by providing quality merchandise for live and silent auctions, door prizes, and volunteer appreciation gifts during our annual membership meeting, Wilderness Walks kickoff events, CDT Montana trail projects, and volunteer appreciation parties. With support from Black Diamond, MWA is able to show our appreciation to our amazing volunteers as well as help raise critical funds to protect Montana's remaining wild places. Because of this unwavering commitment from Peter and Black Diamond, the MWA has established itself as a conservation leader in Montana. Today, we are moving ever closer to bringing new wilderness to Montana and we are boldly setting the stage for additional landscapes to be designated in the future.
I would also like to note that behind every successful effort to prevent off-road vehicles from assaulting the quiet, mountain trails we cherish, behind every effort to shape the final outcome of a forest or travel plan through public comments, and behind every public presentation, one-on-one meeting, door-to-door canvas, mile driven, or minute spent by the staff of the MWA to generate grassroots support for the introduction of wilderness legislation, are incredibly generous members that contribute critical resources MWA needs to accomplish these tasks. In honor of this generous support, the Montana Wilderness Association established a new annual award, the Montana Wilderness Association Philanthropic Recognition Award, in grateful recognition of enduring support and generosity ensuring the vitality and success of the MWA.
In 2011, Peter Metcalf was the very first recipient of this award, which was presented to him at our annual gathering in Gallatin Gateway, Montana.
To find out more about the MWA or how you can become a member, volunteer or make a donation, click here.