Swan Valley Connections new Executive Director Rebecca Ramsey with her three standard poodles, Owen, Evora and Jubel. IMAGE: Andi Bourne/Pathfinder

Swan Valley Connections new Executive Director Rebecca Ramsey with her three standard poodles, Owen, Evora and Jubel. IMAGE: Andi Bourne/Pathfinder

New Executive Director Joins Swan Valley Connections
By ANDI BOURNE of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, October 12, 2017

From an early fascination with John Wayne, Missouri native Rebecca Ramsey couldn't believe that people really lived that way. Now more than three decades later, Ramsey is quick to call the Swan Valley home after being hired as Swan Valley Connections new executive director... READ MORE →


EarthWatch team with Swan Valley Connections staff. IMAGE: Jennifer Atkinson

EarthWatch team with Swan Valley Connections staff. IMAGE: Jennifer Atkinson

Huckleberry Study in the Swan Valley
By JESSIE THORESON of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, August 3, 2017

This summer, Swan Valley Connections is partnering with US Geological Survey and a citizen science organization called EarthWatch Institute to begin a three-year huckleberry research project. Tabitha Graves, the lead USGS Scientist, is looking at the correlation between the effects of climate change and huckleberry productivity in the Swan Valley in the context of grizzly bear habitat... READ MORE →


IMAGE: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

IMAGE: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

Condon Shintangle brings community together for square dancing
By LUCY TOMPKINS of the Missoulian, July 29, 2017

With a ballfield for a dance floor, surrounded by pine trees and flanked by the Swan and Mission mountains, a small community gathered recently for an evening celebration with an old-time tradition.

Couples of all ages stood in squares on the field just off a U.S. Forest Service airstrip and listened for instructions from the caller on stage... READ MORE →


Restoration of Fire-adapted Ecosystems - "The Era of Mega-Fires"
By JOHN INGEBRETSON of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley Swan Pathfinder,  July 27, 2017

In the past decade, we have made significant progress in making the Seeley/Swan more resilient to the effects of wildfire. This has been accomplished by conducting fuel reduction treatments on hundreds of acres of private land, where cost-share funding has helped landowners reduce the risk of wildfire on their forested lands... READ MORE →

 
Lodgepole thinning on private land in the Swan Valley. SVC photo.

Lodgepole thinning on private land in the Swan Valley. SVC photo.

Mission Upland Prescribed Fire in the Mission Mountains Wilderness, 2014. Photo by US Forest Service.

Mission Upland Prescribed Fire in the Mission Mountains Wilderness, 2014. Photo by US Forest Service.

 

Soon to be retired SVC Executive Director Maria Mantas cheers on dancers during the Shintangle.

Soon to be retired SVC Executive Director Maria Mantas cheers on dancers during the Shintangle.

Mantas Announces Retirement
Article and photos by MICAH DREW of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, July 27, 2017

Maria Mantas, the executive director of Swan Valley Connections for the last four years, will be retiring this fall.

"A good executive director keeps the family together, keeps the team together," said Mantas... READ MORE →


Shintangle Brings Square Dancing to Condon
Article and photos by MICAH DREW of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, July 27, 2017

The Condon Ball Field was alive with music and dancing during the fourth annual Swan Valley Connections' Shintangle July 20.

"Tonight is all about celebrating," said Executive Director Maria Mantas during her welcome comments... READ MORE → 

 
The Shintangle featured square dancing all evening long accompanied by the Beet Tops.

The Shintangle featured square dancing all evening long accompanied by the Beet Tops.

A Shintangle attendee kicks her boots during the square dancing.

A Shintangle attendee kicks her boots during the square dancing.

Jessie Thoreson, SVC Conservation Technician took to the stage for a few songs during the Shintangle.

Jessie Thoreson, SVC Conservation Technician took to the stage for a few songs during the Shintangle.

 

Building a Sense of Place on the Banks of the Blackfoot River
By ANDI BOURNE of the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, May 18, 2017
 

 
Students joined Adam Lieberg and Sara Halm from Swan Valley Connections where they put their tracking skills to the test along the river corridor. They visited a series of points and were asked to identify what animal left the sign and why the sign was left, either eating, reproducing or communicating. Then on the return trip, they were given the answers to questions so they could compare. At this point, a bear used its canine teeth to scrape the power pole. Halm said it is a communication tool. "Communication is one thing we don't know a lot about," said Halm. "Once we identify what it was, then we can speculate what they are communicating. It's cool to know what to look for and then to be able to find all this stuff in the woods."

Students joined Adam Lieberg and Sara Halm from Swan Valley Connections where they put their tracking skills to the test along the river corridor. They visited a series of points and were asked to identify what animal left the sign and why the sign was left, either eating, reproducing or communicating. Then on the return trip, they were given the answers to questions so they could compare. At this point, a bear used its canine teeth to scrape the power pole. Halm said it is a communication tool. "Communication is one thing we don't know a lot about," said Halm. "Once we identify what it was, then we can speculate what they are communicating. It's cool to know what to look for and then to be able to find all this stuff in the woods."

 

Sara Halm from Swan Valley Connections teaches the SLE sixth graders about bears at Camp Paxson.

Sara Halm from Swan Valley Connections teaches the SLE sixth graders about bears at Camp Paxson.

SLE Spring and Summer Outdoor Education Program
Story and photos by BRIDGET LAIRD, SLE Outdoor Education Program Coordinator, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, May 18, 2017

...This year, field instructors from Swan Valley Connections provided lessons and activities for SLE students in fourth through eighth grades, teaching them about snow science, animal tracking and wildlife. READ MORE →


A young lynx and its mother walk on a Forest Service road in this Hungry Horse News file photo.

A young lynx and its mother walk on a Forest Service road in this Hungry Horse News file photo.

Study Looking At Rare Critters
By CHRIS PETERSON of The Hungry Horse News, April 14, 2017

Down in the basement of the Condon work center there’s a wall with paper bags tacked to it, carefully labeled, drying out.

It’s what Adam Lieberg of the Swan Valley Connections Southwestern Crown Collaborative Carnivore Project calls the “wall of scat.” READ MORE →


Because of Dave Moskowitz's skills as a photographer, landscape and animal photos made his presentation twice as enjoyable. Image: BETTY VANDERWIELEN/Pathfinder

Because of Dave Moskowitz's skills as a photographer, landscape and animal photos made his presentation twice as enjoyable. Image: BETTY VANDERWIELEN/Pathfinder

Caribou Struggle to Survive Encroachment
By BETTY VANDERWIELEN of the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, March 16, 2017

David Moskowitz is a biologist, expert wildlife tracker, photographer, author and outdoor educator. In Montana shooting photos for his Mountain Caribou Initiative project, Moskowitz was invited by Swan Valley Connections to share some of his findings at the Swan Valley Community Hall March 9. While not advocating any specific solution, Moskowitz said his goal was to help illuminate a really complicated ecological and cultural story.  READ MORE →

 


Douglas-fir bark beetle. Image: Lindsey Seastone Museum Collections

Douglas-fir bark beetle. Image: Lindsey Seastone Museum Collections

Why are My Douglas-fir Trees Dying?
By JOHN INGEBRETSON of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, March 2, 2017

The Douglas-fir bark beetle is the most destructive beetle attacking Douglas-fir trees in the Seeley/Swan Valley. The potential loss of trees can be considerable and can affect both residential homeowners as well as commercial interests. Outbreaks develop in host trees following stand disturbances such as windthrow, drought, severe defoliation or wildfire, such as the Condon Mountain Fire in 2012. During outbreaks, groups of dead trees may total 100 or more. Yearly mortality in the northern region, which includes Montana, may extend into the millions of board feet. READ MORE →


A badly eroded forest road on the Swan River State Forest which will be repaired as part of the Lower Swan Valley Road Restoration Project.

A badly eroded forest road on the Swan River State Forest which will be repaired as part of the Lower Swan Valley Road Restoration Project.

Water Quality in the Swan Valley – It Takes Work!
By MARIA MANTAS of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, February 2, 2017

As residents of the Swan Valley, most of us agree there is one thing we all value in our landscape, water. Most people living here draw their drinking water from wells, which people brag about being "the best tasting well water anywhere." You can't walk through the woods without eventually running into one of Swan Valley's thousands of wetlands which attract dozens of wildlife and bird species. There are hundreds of miles of streams, wild and unimpeded, supporting populations of westslope cutthroat and bull trout as well as many other native aquatic species. READ MORE →

Correction - Swan Lake "Threatened" Not Impaired"

In the Seeley Swan Pathfinder's Feb. 2 'A Place for All' column titled "Water Quality in the Swan Valley - It Takes Work," it stated that Swan Lake was listed an an "impaired water body." That is incorrect.

Goat and Jim Creeks are impaired waterbodies; however, Swan Lake is listed as "threatened" because of the very low dissolved oxygen levels in the deep parts of the lake in the summertime.


The Landscape and Livelihood students visit several lumber mills to learn about the logging industry firsthand. Here they are pictured at RBM Lumber in Columbia Falls. Image: FAITH BERNSTEIN

The Landscape and Livelihood students visit several lumber mills to learn about the logging industry firsthand. Here they are pictured at RBM Lumber in Columbia Falls. Image: FAITH BERNSTEIN

Exploring Ecology and Community-based Conservation
By ANDI BOURNE, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, January 5, 2017

Since the early 2000s, Northwest Connections (NwC) has led a two-month course called Landscapes and Livelihood that introduces college students from all over the country to ecology and community-based conservation in the Swan Valley. Following the merger of NwC and Swan Ecosystem Center, the program continues to promote the triple bottom line: healthy ecology, healthy community and healthy economy. READ MORE →

Clarification Regarding Landscapes and Livelihood Program

 In the Jan. 5 issue of the Pathfinder’s Article “Exploring Ecology and Community-based Conservation,” it was not clear that the Landscapes and Livelihood program is currently run by Swan Valley Connections (SVC)...  READ MORE →


Those who attended the Open House had the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns and study the maps for the different management alternatives presented in the Flathead National Forest Draft Forest Plan. Image: ANDI BOURNE/Pathfinder

Those who attended the Open House had the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns and study the maps for the different management alternatives presented in the Flathead National Forest Draft Forest Plan. Image: ANDI BOURNE/Pathfinder

FNF Revision Team Responds to Questions and Concerns
By ANDI BOURNE, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, September 8, 2016

Swan Valley Connections hosted an Open House with the Flathead National Forest (FNF) Forest Planning Team and Swan Lake Ranger District (SLRD) Rich Kehr Aug. 31. Nearly 50 people attended the event to better understand what is being proposed in the draft forest plan... READ MORE →


Economic Impacts of Conservation and Education
By LUKE LAMAR of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, September 1, 2016

At Swan Valley Connections (SVC), we care deeply about conservation, stewardship and education for people of all ages. Swan Valley Connections is the result of the merger between Swan Ecosystem Center and Northwest Connections, two non-profit conservation/education organizations founded in the 1990’s by visionary leaders and dedicated staff who knew the value of creating and building partnerships to get work done. We have a history of helping people come together to partner and find solutions to problems through having productive and respectful conversations about controversial topics... READ MORE →


Swan Valley Connections and Community Provide Mutual Support
By BETTY VANDERWIELEN, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, August 25, 2016

The Swan Valley Shintangle took place Saturday, Aug. 20 at the 33 Bar Ranch in Condon. The event was a fundraiser for Swan Valley Connections (SVC). The theme for the evening was Supporting SVC is Supporting Your Community.

Guests were treated to a meal by Vista Linda Catering and music provided by Moonshine Mountain Band of Columbia Falls, Mont. In between the food, music, dancing and raffle drawings, SVC Executive Director Maria Mantas elaborated on the theme... READ MORE →


Fostering Connection with the Landscape
By ANDI BOURNE, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, August 18, 2016

Swan Valley Connections (SVC) will release a new Swan Valley Trails Interpretive Map mid-September. Their goal for the interpretive map is to help educate visitors and residents about the human and natural history of the area while providing a resource that helps people think about the various recreation available in the Swan, where they can do it and what kind of an experience they can expect... READ MORE →


Their Nose Knows
By COLLEEN KESTERSON, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, August 4, 2016

Swan Valley Connections presented a Mussel Dog program at the Holland Lake Boat Launch area July 26. Two "mussel" dogs, three-year old Labradors, with their handler Deb Tirmenstein demonstrated how they can...  READ MORE →


eDNA: The New Surveillance Tool in the Hunt for Rare Animals
By ANDREA STEPHENS of Swan Valley Connections for the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, March 31, 2016

If you were hired to find out whether the devastating zebra or quagga mussels had invaded Swan Lake, how might you go about it? What if your job was to discover whether an isolated population of bull trout or pure cutthroat trout was hiding out in some remote headwater? Would you search every cubic meter of water in either system? How?  READ MORE →


Neil Meyer, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Dixie Meyer

Neil Meyer, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Dixie Meyer

Meyers Receive Montana Neighbor Award
By ANNE DAHL of The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society for the Seeley-Swan Pathfinder, March 31, 2016

Dixie and Neil Meyer learned in February they would receive the Montana Neighbor Award, offered by a group of Montana agencies and organizations, and the office of the Governor. The award program recognizes "land-owners who go the extra mile through collaborative efforts to enhance our Montana sense of community."  READ MORE →


Steve Kloetzel, left, of The Nature Conservancy and Adam Lieberg, right, of Swan Valley Connections. Image: TOM BAUER/Missoulian.

Steve Kloetzel, left, of The Nature Conservancy and Adam Lieberg, right, of Swan Valley Connections. Image: TOM BAUER/Missoulian.

Nature Conservancy pans for carnivores in Gold Creek
By ROB CHANEY, Missoulian, March 17, 2016

The roadkill deer Adam Lieberg hauled in for snacks on his latest venture into Gold Creek smelled ripe enough to wake a grizzly bear.

More likely, a wolverine or Canada lynx will gobble up the leg quarters before the big bears thoroughly shake off hibernation this spring. Those are the recipients of most of the venison Lieberg has wired to trees deep in this rugged country just northeast of Missoula. Just in case the spring sun hadn’t made the meat fragrant enough, he also brought a bottle of Skunky Backbreaker lure to advertise the offering. That goop triggers a human gag reflex at 15 feet.  READ MORE →


Swan Ecosystem Center and Northwest Connections Combine
By ANDI BOURNE, Seeley Swan Pathfinder, January 14, 2016

Swan Valley Connections (SVC), a new organization born from the merger of two long-standing local non-profits Northwest Connections (NwC) and Swan Ecosystem Center (SEC), was formed in the beginning of 2016. SVC is expected to carry forward all the educational programs, stewardship services, conservation work and land management partnerships from the past, while further expanding its reach and influence. READ MORE →


Swan Valley conservation groups merge
By SAM WILSON, Daily Interlake, January 9, 2016 and Bigfork Eagle, January 6, 2016

Northwest Montana has a new conservation organization after two longtime nonprofits in the Swan Valley announced a merger to kick off the new year.

Swan Valley Connections announced itself last week as a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that combines the land stewardship-focused Swan Ecosystem Center with Northwest Connections, which had served primarily as an education organization. READ MORE →


IMAGE:  Top - Josh Blouin