Basic Organization Information
VITAL GROUND FOUNDATION INC
- Also Known As:
- Physical Address:
- Web URL:
- Blog URL:
- NTEE Category:
C Environmental Quality Protection, Beautification
C30 Natural Resource Conservation and Protection
D Animal related
D31 Protection of Endangered Species
W Public, Society Benefit
W12 Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution
- Ruling Year:
- How This Organization Is Funded:
Individual Donations (2008-2009) - $1,574,054
Grants (2008-2009) - $437,640
Donated Goods and Services (2008-2009) - $328,834
The mission of The Vital Ground Foundation is to protect and restore North America's grizzly bear populations by conserving wildlife habitat.
Dr. Gary J. Wolfe, Ph.D.
Gary Wolfe is a career conservationist with more than 35 years of experience working in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He attended the University of New Mexico, majoring in biology and chemistry, then earned masters and doctorate degrees in wildlife biology from Colorado State University. Dr. Wolfe spent 12 years as a wildlife biologist at the 500,000-acre Vermejo Park Ranch in northern New Mexico, followed by 15 years with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, including 3 years as President and Chief Executive Officer.
It is an exciting and challenging time to be working in wildlife conservation, as the daunting pressures on wild habitats build. Vital Ground prides itself in being a lean yet highly successful organization dedicated to one mission: conserving habitat for the grizzly—habitat that will also sustain nature’s web for all other creatures in grizzly country.
Vital Ground is effective because we focus on connections. We connect people through partnerships and connect ecosystems through lands conservation. On every project, we build collaboration between landowners, conservationists, agencies and businesses. Our success lies in our ability to work with a broad variety of allies, always seeking the greater good for wildlife and eschewing “ownership” of any specific project.
We are proud of our ability to have a positive influence on the survival and health of grizzly bears and their ecosystems in the United States and Canada.
None of this would be possible without the dedication of our loyal members and donors, and we pledge to put every dollar to work efficiently for the bears and for the wilds.
Gary J. Wolfe, Ph.D.
Board of Directors
Highest Paid Employees & Their Compensation
Cabinet-Purcell Wildlife Linkage Initiative
- Population Served:
Ground is currently fundraising to secure its first two land acquisitions within
grizzly bear/wildlife linkage zones in northwestern Montana via the Cabinet-Purcell
Wildlife Linkage Initiative.
The projects were identified by the Private Lands Working Group, an international
team of state and federal wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists, and NGOs. In the
U.S. these are Vital Ground, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; in Canada these are the Trans-border Grizzly
Bear Project and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.
the land acquisition priorities the Private Lands Working Group has set in the
Cabinet-Purcell Wildlife Linkage Initiative working region of northwestern
Montana, two properties rank highest due to: 1) their current availability on
the open real estate market; and 2) their ripeness for development if sold to
non-conservation buyers and the subsequent threat of linkage disruption and
wildlife displacement. The first property is located in the northern tier of
the USFWS Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone along U.S. Hwy. 2, less than
one mile southeast of the Yaak River-Kootenai River confluence. The second
property is located just south of the Recovery Zone near Montana Hwy. 200, 2.5
miles northwest of the Bull River-Clark Fork River confluence. Both properties
adjoin Kaniksu National Forest lands.
Program Long-Term Success:
Long-Term Conservation Outcome: Restoration and maintainance of habitat connectivity and landscape permeability between large blocks of public land in the Selkirk-Cabinet-Purcell region for the benefit of the grizzly bears and other wildlife.
Abstract: The Selkirk-Cabinet-Purcell Linkage Zone Initiative is an endeavor to seek out strategic conservation opportunities (fee title acquisition and conservation easement) on private lands in northern Idaho and northwest Montana within wildlife linkage zones identified by state and federal agency biologists and NGO conservationists. As an iconic umbrella species, the grizzly bear serves as the compass for this work. This "umbrella species" approach benefits the threatened grizzly bear populations in the region and the many other species that share their ecological community. To be effective, linkage zones should provide food, shelter, and security for foraging and movement across the landscape. These linkages allow animals to disperse to new ranges and exchange genes between populations. The goal of the Initiative is restore and maintain the habitat connectivity between the large blocks of public land in the region, and to foster wildlife movements between ecosystems across a permeable landscape. For the grizzly bear, Vital Ground’s goal is to help facilitate recovery in the Selkirk-Cabinet-Purcell region and to promote natural dispersal into the Selway-Bitterroot ecosystem. Vital Ground’s land conservation specialist identifies land ownership within the priority linkage zones, conducts outreach activities to targeted landowners, develops
individual relationships, identifies project opportunities, promotes conservation solutions, and negotiates transactions.
Program Short-Term Success:
Identification of key private lands of biological significance for wildlife habitat and landscape linkage.
Program Success Monitored by:
Program Success Examples:
Impact Summary from the Nonprofit
Working cooperatively with landowners, local communities, and state and federal agencies, Vital Ground addresses the issue of habitat fragmentation head-on by permanently protecting crucial private lands for the benefit of grizzly bears and other wide-ranging wildlife. Since its founding in 1990, Vital Ground has helped to protect and enhance nearly 600,000 acres of habitat and landscape linkages.