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Life in the Ourdoors of MontanaLife in the Ourdoors of Montana
Whitefish Author Douglas Chadwick Highlights Vital Ground Fundraiser
Vital Ground campaign aspires to raise $500,000 for grizzly bear habitat
Author Douglas Chadwick presented a program about grizzlies, wolverines and large mammals at a recent fundraiser in Whitefish that hopes to raise $500,000 for conservation projects earmarked for the Swan Valley.

The July 17 fundraiser attracted 50 guests and was held at the home of Brian and Meggen Wilson. Chadwick stressed the importance of keeping wild lands intact by protecting habitats through conservation easements. Chadwick is an author of 10 books and has written hundreds of articles and contracts with the National Geographic Society, which has sent him to explore ecosystems from Siberia to the Congo.

Sharon and Donny Lainhart kicked-off the philanthropy with a $10,000 matching grant from the William H. Donner Foundation.

The event was co-hosted by Rich and Debi Strong of Bigfork. Meggen Wilson and Debi Strong serve on the board of trustees for The Vital Ground Foundation, a Missoula-based land trust that has protected and enhanced nearly 600,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and British Columbia, according to the foundation.

Jim Williams, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Region One wildlife program manager, spoke of Vital Ground’s effectiveness in protecting critical corridors where bears, elk, deer and other wildlife travel, according to the foundation.

Vital Ground Executive Director Gary Wolfe highlighted current projects and stressed the importance of maintaining wildlife linkage on the landscape.

“From housing developments to commercial sites, from roads to railroads, grizzlies and other wildlife face numerous human barriers,” he said in a statement. “When contiguous blocks of habitat are broken into pieces from human activities, the result is habitat fragmentation.”

The Vital Ground Foundation works cooperatively with landowners, local communities, and state and federal agencies. Vital Ground describes itself as an organization that addresses the issue of habitat fragmentation by permanently protecting lands for the benefit of grizzly bears and other wide-ranging wildlife. For more information visit the foundation's website.
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