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"I BELIEVE in connected landscapes; so connected that my children can walk from one point to another."
Chris Bunting, Y2Y Supporter since 2007

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Location, Location, Location

With support from Y2Y, the Montana-based Vital Ground Foundation purchased a key region that allows wildlife to move in relative safety from the Purcell to Cabinet Mountains.

Despite the small cluster of dilapidated buildings, the 71-acre (29 ha) piece of property on Highway 2 west of Troy, Montana, couldn’t be more beautiful.

In July 2011, with substantial support from Y2Y, the Vital Ground Foundation purchased the land—a key piece of linking habitat that allows wildlife to move in relative safety from the Purcell Mountains, through the bottom of the Kootenai River Valley, to the Cabinet Mountains.

“Without Y2Y’s capacity grant in 2008 and its continued support during the acquisition process, we wouldn’t be celebrating this success,” says Ryan Lutey, Vital Ground’s Director of Lands.

With that original grant, Vital Ground launched an initiative that brought together several partners: Y2Y; the US Fish and Wildlife Service; Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks; and the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project. Together these partners worked to identify places in the Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk region that were critical for wildlife connectivity.

Vital Ground created “The Right Place” campaign as a fundraising arm of the initiative, and targeted the Yaak Mountain parcel as its cornerstone acquisition.

“Vital Ground is small enough that we definitely wouldn’t be able to tackle projects like this on our own,” says Lutey.

Y2Y’s 2008 capacity grant of $100,000 US ($108,500 CAN) allowed Vital Ground to establish the Cabinet-Purcell-Selkirk Wildlife Linkage Initiative. To acquire the Yaak Mountain parcel, Y2Y offered a dollar-for-dollar matching grant toward the purchase, contributing $217,500 US ($210,975 CAN) to cover effectively half the cost of the acquisition.

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