Kickoff Event Held for The Big Sky Forestry Initiative
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 21, 2023

EDGEFIELD, S.C.—The Big Sky Forestry Initiative Kickoff event took place June 8 at the Rockin’ TJ Ranch in Bozeman, Montana, celebrating the new collaborative, co-developed by the National Wild Turkey Federation and the USDA Forest Service.

The Big Sky Forestry Initiative aims to address several critical objectives. These include reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, enhancing wildlife habitat, ensuring clean water sources, preserving access to recreational opportunities and reducing wildfire risk for communities in wildland areas.

“A special thanks goes out to the dedicated conservationists who attended the Big Sky Forestry Initiative Kickoff event this past week in Bozeman, Montana,” NWTF co-CEO Jason Burckhalter said. “We are extremely excited about this collaborative initiative that will, among other things, help create healthy and resilient forests and watersheds that are better prepared for future wildfires through the creation of conditions in which fires burn with less intensity and affect fewer acres.”

Dinner was provided for attendees, and following the meal, Chris Savage, Forest Service renewable resources director, delivered a presentation highlighting details of the Big Sky Forestry Initiative. He provided attendees with in-depth details concerning the organizations involved, their core functions and their strategic plans for initiating sustainable efforts in Montana.

“Our first Big Sky Forestry Initiative event was a great success,” Savage said. “The Northern Region of the Forest Service appreciates the NWTF’s efforts to hold this fundraiser. The dollars raised will go toward the implementation of some critical projects in Montana. We look forward to working with NWTF on future efforts.”

After the presentation, time was dedicated to acknowledging the donors who had made significant commitments and have completed their pledges, and a list of all the major donors was read aloud by Steven Rinella, writer, TV personality and founder of MeatEater, Inc. The major donors were recognized as conservation leaders, playing a pivotal role in supporting the initiatives and goals of the Big Sky Forestry Initiative. Additional information about the Major Donor Program can be found here.

The event also featured a live auction, showcasing items such as firearms, vacation trips and guided hunts. Through the auction and donations, a total of over $179,000 was raised to support various projects within the Big Sky Forestry Initiative. These potential projects include the Bozeman Municipal Watershed Project, Elkhorns Cooperative Management Area and forest restoration in the Bitterroot National Forest.

“Last [week’s] rollout of the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Big Sky Forestry Initiative in the Gallatin Valley was a breath of fresh air,” said Ryan Callaghan, director of conservation at MeatEater. “The NWTF has proven that they aren’t just a turkey organization anymore. Their comprehensive plan to conserve Montana’s forests right here in MeatEater’s backyard is as welcome as it is necessary. MeatEater has a longstanding commitment to enhancing wildlife resources and public access to America’s natural landscape, and we are proud to partner with NWTF to do just that for generations to come.”

Learn more about the Big Sky Forestry Initiative here.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50th Anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th Anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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