Since 1999, the Environmental Studies Program of the University of Montana has joined with a Canadian partner university (University of Calgary or Mount Royal University) to offer the Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Initiative. This graduate program offers a field course and exchange to explore and develop the knowledge and skills necessary to manage across domestic or international administrative boundaries.
The University of Montana is ideally located within a living laboratory for transboundary work. In the neighboring Crown of the Continent region lie millions of acres of federal, state, provincial and tribal/first nation lands including the Blood, Salish-Kootenai and Blackfeet Reserves, the Flathead National Forest, the Crowsnest Forest Area, Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks, Akamina-Kishenina Provincial Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex; municipalities like Kalispell, Choteau, Browning, Fernie, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass; the Waterton gas fields; and working forest and grassland landscapes used for crop agriculture, grazing, forestry and recreation. The demands on these landscapes are diverse and cross numerous ownership/management boundaries. The program takes advantage of the proximity of these examples to put students in the field, meeting those most intimately involved with the issues and application of policy, to develop a deeper understanding of the challenges of transboundary management within the region.
The Transboundary Initiative partners with organizations throughout the Crown of the Continent including the Crown Managers Partnership [link crownmanagers.org], the Crown Conservation Initiative [link] and the Crown Roundtable [link crownroundtable.org]. Through these partnerships students work to answer questions relevant to on-the-ground management and conservation questions. Some current and recent examples include:
- An enduring facets gap analysis for CCI to assist in climate adaptation work
- A dark-sky inventory and joint application for Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
- A survey of highway crossing planning and implementation efforts in the CoC
- Development of social media tools for the National Geographic Crown of the Continent Geotourism project
- Investigation of snowpack, water quality, residential development and air quality measures and data across the CoC
Through this work the Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Initiative seeks to promote student and faculty research aimed at resolving issues relevant to transboundary management and planning. .
Examples of transboundary research/creative projects completed by Environmental Studies graduate students include:
- Impacts of Coal Bed Methane Development in Southeastern British Columbia
- Monitoring Canada Highway 3 Wildlife Approaches
- Animal trails crossing US Highway 2: Mapping and Use