Beavers, Butterflies, and Climate Resilience: Indigenous-led Conservation Projects

The Center for Large Landscape Conservation recognizes and celebrates Native American Heritage Month. We value the relationships we have built with Tribal Nations and their many strengths as conservation partners, including their unique cultures, perspectives, knowledge systems, and governing structures. The modern conservation movement has much to learn from Native American Tribes, and we are pleased to share a few interesting and inspiring stories from 2021 of Indigenous-led conservation efforts.

Tribes Take the Lead in Climate Change Planning

The Aaniiih and Nakoda peoples of the Fort Belknap Indian Community are completing a comprehensive climate adaptation plan that will protect the Tribes’ natural and cultural resources in the Little Rocky Mountains of north-central Montana. The community has already started to put the plan into action to restore the forest ecosystem, enhance wildlife habitat, and preserve traditional ways of life for future generations.

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The Tribal Coalition Fighting to Save Monarch Butterflies

The migration pattern of the monarch butterfly can stretch as long as 3,000 miles, from the northern to southern reaches of the North American continent, but now many are dying before they complete the full trip. The Tribal Alliance for Pollinators—a 2021 Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund grantee—is working to find solutions to the monarch butterfly’s population decline and restore its epic migratory path.

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Blackfeet Nation’s Ksik Stakii Project Receives Watershed Stewardship Award

Known as Ksik Stakii in the language of the Blackfeet (Amskapi Piikani) people, beavers play an important role both culturally and in the protection of streams, rivers, and wetlands. The Blackfeet Nation led the Ksik Stakii Project, which—by mimicking the dam-building behavior of beavers—enhances stream health, water storage, and drought resilience. The Center was happy to partner with the Tribe to plan this climate-adaptation strategy.

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Termaine Edmo and Gerald Wagner recently discussed the innovative project with the Montana Watershed Coordination Council, which selected the Ksik Stakii Project as a 2021 Watershed Stewardship Award recipient:


Learn about the Center for Large Landscape Conservation’s Community Resilience Program

Photos, top to bottom: The Little Rocky Mountains, Fort Belknap Indian Community, Montana – Dennis Longknife; Monarch butterfly – Adobe Stock; Blackfeet environmental staff conduct a water quality assessment as part of the Blackfeet Nation’s Beaver Mimicry Project.

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