HELENA, Mont. – Montana Governor Steve Bullock today honored the 2016 Good Neighbor Award winners and awarded each of the honorees a framed certificate featuring a photograph by Evelyn Cameron, a famous Montana photographer.
Nominees for the award are sought each fall and judged by representatives of The Nature Conservancy of Montana, Artemis Common Ground, the Montana Association of Land Trusts, the Montana Council of Trout Unlimited, the Montana Governor’s office, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Chris King who is a representative from the ranching community.
“In Montana, being known as a good neighbor is an honor and reflection of the pride and commitment one has to their land, community, and state,” said Governor Bullock. “This year’s honorees represent the best our state has to offer in the way of cooperation, stewardship, and community spirit.”
The concept for the Montana Good Neighbor Award grew out of a desire to honor and recognize the spirit of community that was a hallmark of Montana’s traditional ranching and rural life, according to Brian Kahn, president of the Artemis Common Ground and one of the founders of the award.
The 2016 winners of the Montana Neighbor Award are:
• Doug Salsbury, Whitehall
• Neil and Dixie Meyer, Swan Lake
• Joe and Debby Perry, Brady
• Randy and Emily Smith, Glen
• Gerald “Buddy” and Sheila Walsh, Dodson
• Tim Crawford, Kathy Hansen, Belgrade
Nominees are judged based on four categories: Cooperation, Neighborly Land Access, Land Stewardship and Conservation, and Community Leadership.
“Traditional values of land stewardship and conservation still mean something to Montanans and so it’s important to honor landowners who exemplify them,” said Richard Jeo at The Nature Conservancy of Montana.
2016 Montana Good Neighbor Award Winners:
Doug Salsbury, Whitehall
Doug Salsbury operates a cattle ranch near Whitehall with a dedication to land stewardship and community involvement. He participates in block management and leases a portion of his property to the Jefferson Valley Sportsman Association for $1 annually for their use as a community gun range. Salsbury is active in a variety of community organizations, including the Jefferson County Natural Resource Committee and with local water user associations.
Neil and Dixie Meyer, Swan Lake
Neil and Dixie Meyer are fixtures in the Swan Valley. They have been in the timber business for decades and own a modest ranch along the banks of the Swan River. The Meyers are perfect examples of the Montana neighbor ethic. They are active in their community, leaders in local conservation efforts and generous with their time and property, often opening up their land and buildings for educational tours and events.
Joe and Debby Perry, Brady
Joe Perry has spent nearly four decades turning his arid land east of Brady into a productive farm with a focus on weed control, waterfowl and upland game bird cover and wildlife habitat for a variety of prairie animals. He and his wife Debby have recently placed a conservation easement on their land with the Montana Land Reliance. Perry is gracious with access to his land, granting permission to hunters and hosting a variety of youth hunting opportunities, passing along the Fair Chase hunting ethic and land stewardship values important to him.
Randy and Emily Smith, Glen
Randy and Emily have worked diligently to manage grazing on their ranch near Glen to benefit wildlife on the Fleecer Mountain Wildlife Management Area and adjacent Forest Service allotments. The Smiths have also continued their family tradition of allowing hunting with permission on their land and participate in FWP’s block management program. The family also worked with local sportsmen’s groups and the Bureau of Land Management to build a public road across their ranch to allow access to large tracts of BLM and Forest Service land.
Gerald “Buddy” and Sheila Walsh, Dodson
Ranchers Buddy and Sheila Walsh make cooperation a hallmark of the ranch operation. The Walsh family has worked cooperatively with the Fort Belknap Reservation, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund to help gather important wildlife information from their ranch. They allow access to their ranch to hunters who respectfully ask. Both Buddy and Sheila are members of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance.
Tim Crawford, Kathy Hansen, Belgrade
On the East Gallatin River, Tim Crawford and Kathy Hansen, along with ranch manager Lane Quandt, have proven working agriculture and abundant wildlife habitat can be part of the same landscape. Their 360-acre property is protected by a conservation easement and the couple works diligently with local groups and agencies to manage their land to accomplish their conservation goals. They allow ample access for fishing along the East Gallatin River, and have long been supporters of conservation efforts in Montana and in the Bozeman community.