The Ruby Valley is known for its beautiful views, lush alfalfa fields, world-class fisheries, plethora of working ranches, and really kind, hardworking folks. More than half the land in the valley — approximately 60 percent — is managed by federal agencies, while the rest of the land is under the care of private landowners. Both federal land managers and private landowners have a significant role to play in keeping the land ecologically abundant and suitable for wildlife while also meeting recreational needs and their own economic interests.

To promote critical, balanced stewardship in the area, a group of ranchers, federal agents, conservation groups, and other stewardship partners came together in 2015 to create the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance. The alliance aims to formally recognize that maintaining working ranches and public land viable and intact helps everyone achieve their long-term conservation goals.

Here are the organizations, associations, and ranches that are represented in the Alliance via individual members:

  • Gary Giem — Warm Springs Grazing Association  
  • Rick Sandru — Ruby Valley Stock Association (Three Forks Cow Camp)
  • Neil Barnosky — Ledford Creek Grazing Association
  • Les Gilman — Ruby Habitat Foundation
  • John Anderson — Ruby Dell Ranch
  • John Helle — Helle Ranch
  • Dan Allhands — Madison County Commissioner
  • Nathan Korb — The Nature Conservancy
  • Kris Inman — Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Emily Cleveland — Montana Wilderness Association
  • Darcie Warden — Greater Yellowstone Coalition
  • Jessie Wiese — Montana Land Reliance
  • Brain Ohs — Trout Unlimited

Alliance members work together to:

  • Build lasting relationships among the individual partners;
  • Maintain working landscapes;
  • Maintain and enhance the outdoor way of life and high-quality recreation experiences in the greater Ruby Valley landscape for future generations; and
  • Preserve the Valley’s wilderness heritage and quiet landscapes.

The Alliance has led to increased communication and an unprecedented level of collaboration among ranchers, federal land managers, and third-party partner groups throughout the Ruby Valley — which is adding up to big wins, both ecologically and economically.  

“These people are willing to work together to get stuff done,” noted Gary Giem of the Warm Spring Grazing Association, a member of the Alliance.

Neil Barnosky presenting his conserved wetlands, on a exceptionally smoky day, that he protected under a conservation easement.

On August 24, the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance held a Field Day. Rick Sandru, Gary Giem, and Neil Barnosky — all members of the Alliance — hosted visitors from town, various land-use non-profits, and news outlets at their ranches. At each stop, the ranchers described the benefits of being part of the Alliance and talked about the improvements they have made to their land, both to improve their operations and also for conservation.  The Alliance members also described how the Farm Bill (specifically, the Environmental Quality Incentive Program) has helped them improve their land in addition to grants or easements from various partner groups.

The Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance is planning more Field Days in the coming months. If you are interested in exploring new ideas for your own conservation district, or want to learn more about the work being done in the Ruby Valley, the  Greater Yellowstone Coalition or the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance.

To learn more about the Ruby Valley Strategic Alliance, read our article from last fall.

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