Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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Rewarding Collaborative Conservation

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes accept the first ever Ted Smith Award for Collaborative Conservation at a ceremony in Missoula, Montana.

Conservation groups get far more done collaboratively than they ever would alone.

It's a truth that all effective conservationists recognize, and it's why we created the Ted Smith Award for Collaborative Conservationnamed after one of the foremost practitioners of working collectively. 

On May 8, at the University of Montana, Y2Y presented the inaugural Ted Smith Award to representatives of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), for their extensive and collaborative conservation efforts in their traditional homeland.

Dale Becker, head biologist for the CSKT Wildlife Management Department, along with Leonard Gray and Lloyd Irvine, both Tribal Council members, accepted the award on behalf of CSKT.

The award honors the Tribes’ extensive conservation efforts, such as creating the first tribally-established wilderness in the U.S., which includes a grizzly bear conservation area in the Mission Mountains.

The award also recognizes CSKT’s work in designing and building extensive wildlife crossings on highways across the Flathead Reservation, especially on Montana’s Route 93, as well as their success in re-introducing trumpeter swans to the region.

A group of trumpeter swans about to be re-introduced back into their traditional habitat on the Flathead Reservation. Photo: CSKT.

Y2Y Co-Chairs David Thomson and Bill Weber, along with Interim President Wendy Francis, were on hand to congratulate the Tribe members on their award.

“By committing to collective action, CSKT has championed the spirit of collaboration that epitomized Ted Smith’s life and work,” said Francis. “They have shown just how much we can accomplish if they share a common overarching vision and work together collectively to make it happen.”

In 2014, Y2Y established the annual Ted Smith Award for Conservation Collaboration to commemorate his life and achievements, and his unwavering focus on working collectively toward shared goals.

Ted Smith’s active and passionate support was critical in advancing the Yellowstone to Yukon vision, and in the early founding of Y2Y.

A visionary thinker in the North American conservation community, Ted Smith played a key role in advancing the Yellowstone to Yukon vision. He remained a key supporter of Y2Y until his untimely death in 2012, while hiking in the Mission Mountains, east of his beloved Flathead Lake, Montana.

The annual Ted Smith Award is granted to individuals or groups that collaboratively contribute to long-term conservation in the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

Y2Y sincerely thanks CSKT for making a huge collective impact, and for being a positive example for other communities and groups in the region.