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Our Story

In the summer of 1971, a group of University of Montana students took a 21-day backpacking trip into the northern Bitterroot Mountains. They fell in love with the area, and emerged from the experience committed to its long-term protection. The Great Burn Study Group (GBSG) was born, and its members have cared for and protected the land that they love ever since.

Over the course of 40 years, GBSG has remained a small, local, and intently focused grassroots organization. GBSG The group has adopted this remarkable landscape, advocating for its protection and becoming personally involved in its day-to-day management.

In addition, GBSG has built a network of partners who have come to know and love the area. Over the years, volunteers recruited from within the community have also become aware of this special place and taken ownership in its care. Collaborative efforts have, in recent years, become an important vehicle for engaging other stakeholders in protecting the Great Burn and adjacent undeveloped wildlands in the GBSG mission area.

The Great Burn Study Group takes a unique approach to conservation advocacy:

  • In-depth, long-term, personal knowledge of its mission area.
  • An ethic of supporting its values with action, providing staff and volunteers to monitor recreation uses, assist law enforcement, restore damaged resources, and collect scientific data on water, wildlife, and vegetation.
  • A long history of working constructively with the Forest Service at the local, regional and national levels. GBSG has built credibility with the agency, its opinions are respected, and its track record of influencing favorable outcomes is strong.
  • A reputation for inclusive and respectful dialogue in collaborative settings, and election to leadership roles by diverse interests in multiple settings.
  • A track record of success in building consensus around protection for the Great Burn and the roadless landscape of the northern Bitterroot Mountains.
  • A robust program of using volunteers to monitor conditions on the ground.

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