F. H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company Receives Montana Neighbor Award

By Beacon Staff

F. H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Company of Columbia Falls has received the Montana Neighbor Award for their work with forest land stewardship and neighborly public access. Stoltze Vice President Chuck Roady accepted the award from Governor Brian Schweitzer at a ceremony on April 19 in Helena.
“It was humbling for Stoltze to receive the award,” said Roady. “It was a great ceremony with a highly respected group of landowners. I was proud to be part of the group.”
Stoltze has been a cooperator in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ (FWP) Block Management Program, providing public hunting access to 13,000 acres of deer, elk and black bear habitat at no charge. Stoltze is also a local leader in streamside and riparian management practices and is an active partner in land stewardship and wildlife management planning in the region.
The company is also the force behind the Family Forestry Expo, an annual educational event held on F. H. Stoltze land for the past 20 years. The event hosts 1,300 students and thousands of adults each spring with outdoor-learning stations and tours of local lumber mills.
The annual awards are made by an informal coalition including the Montana Alliance of Land Trusts, Artemis Common Ground, The Nature Conservancy of Montana, the Montana Council of Trout Unlimited and FWP. Award criteria include Cooperation, Land Stewardship/Conservation Ethic, Neighborly Land Access, and Community Leadership.

“Our mission is to promote the on-the-ground reality of being a good Montana neighbor in a time of transition in our state,” said Chris King, the Petroleum County Commissioner and Winnett rancher who serves on the awards committee. “We believe that publicizing the good things that are happening will encourage others to undertake similar efforts.”

The group solicited nominations of landowners from across Montana, which were reviewed by King, representatives of the sponsoring organizations, and the Governor’s office.

“Great nominations were submitted,” said Mike Volesky, natural resources advisor to the Governor. “It is inspiring to see that the tradition of being a good neighbor is alive and well in Montana. Maintaining that is essential to the future of our state.”

Other 2009 Neighbor Award winners are: conservationists Annie and Bob Graham of Texas and the Madison Valley in Montana; rancher Leo Barthelmass of Malta; and Big Hole rancher Calvin Erb of Wisdom.
Each award winner receives Montana Neighbor Award certificates signed by the members of the awards committee and by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The framed document features an Evelyn Cameron photograph from the early 1900s, picturing a hay crew—men, women and children – neighbors working with horse drawn wagons.

“That photograph symbolizes the long history of Montanans working together to get things done,” says Brian Kahn, director of Artemis Common Ground. “It’s no secret that land ownership in Montana is in transition, sometimes with painful tension between landowners, public resource agencies, and sportsmen. Those situations get attention. But the fact is there are many new and long-time landowners who are great neighbors in the Montana tradition. We want to give them the recognition they deserve.”

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