Blackfoot Community Conservation Area Survey Results

These survey results are available here to provide context needed to evaluate the validity of assertions made in both the motorized users' proposal and the response in the slide presentation favoring keeping the current BCCA management council draft plan.

The community survey was mailed to 347 residents in the Ovando / Helmville area and landowners in the area from Woodworth east to Arrastra Creek, from Arrastra Creek south to Helmville, and from Helmville west to Elevation Mountain. Of the 347 surveys mailed, 193 were returned by the closing date. As is clear from the response numbers, not all responders answered all questions.

The information below was taken from the Preliminary Survey Results published January 26, 2005. Report by Ali Duvall Jonkel, Graduate Student, Environmental Studies, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812.

Since we do not have an electronic version of these results, they have been entered from the printed information. Double quotes in the responses enclose quotations from the survey results report; single quotes surround individual survey responses quoted in the survey report. If an electronic version of complete results is made available, this page will be replaced by a link to that information.

Survey Question: #1

"Please indicate by circling the number that best describes how important you think each of the following uses or values is to the management of the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area."

Frequencies (Percent)
1 - Not Important 2 - Somewhat Important 3 - Very Important
Wildlife Habitat 1.0 10.4 87.0
Weed Management 2.6 8.3 83.4
Wetlands / Riparian Areas 7.3 21.2 65.3
Public Access 5.7 26.4 63.2
Recreation 4.1 32.1 59.1
Aesthetics / Viewshed 8.8 32.1 51.3
Linkage to Public Lands 10.4 32.6 50.3
Rangelands / Grazing 15.0 29.0 49.7
Timber 15.0 31.6 48.7

Survey Question: #2

"Please indicate by circling the number that best describes how important you think each of the following types of recreation is to the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area"

Frequencies (Percent)
1 - Not Important 2 - Somewhat Important 3 - Very Important
Hunting 5.2 19.2 70.5
Wildlife Viewing 5.7 23.3 67.4
Hiking 2.1 28.5 65.8
Private Enjoyment 5.7 21.8 61.1
Fishing 9.3 26.4 56.5
Horseback Riding 5.2 39.9 49.7
Skiing 16.6 34.7 43.0
Snowmobiling 24.4 32.6 38.3
Vehicle Access 45.1 33.2 16.6
ATV Access 50.3 27.5 14.5
Commercial/Profit 52.3 23.3 13.0

Survey Question: #3

"Have you ever visited the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area (see enclosed map)?"

Yes 72.5
No 24.4

Survey Question:

"If yes, for what purpose(s) do you use the area?"
"How often have you used the area in the past?"

40 results (21% of respondents) were analyzed.

"The area has been used by survey respondents for hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, wildlife viewing, skiing, horseback riding, and fishing in that order. Other uses include camping, woodcutting, biking, grazing, photography, and trapping. Those that have visited the area make use of it repeatedly throughout the year."

Survey Question: #4

"In your opinion, should the Blackfoot Challenge become the legal owner of the proposed 5,600-acre Blackfoot Community Conservation Area?"

Need More Information 46.1%
Yes 40.9%
No 10.4%

Survey Question:

"If yes, please explain why"

51 results (26% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Blackfoot Challenge ownership is supported to 'keep the land open for future generations,' maintain access with the same uses as in the past and present. To keep the land from private ownership by a few."

"Local control means that management decisions can be made based on local values, by those who have greatest interest and understanding of the area."

"Blackfoot Challenge ownership is consistent with values of multiple use and management, maintaining rural nature of the area."

"Blackfoot Challenge is an established organization, with structure, credibility and personnel to sustain the plan."

"Able to set up a special committee to 'assess ramifications and downsides to management liabilities,' representing local interests."

Survey Question:

"If no, please explain why and who you think should own the area or under what conditions."

(Results were assumed in survey analysis to be from both the "No" and the "Need More Information" categories, although the question wording is somewhat ambiguous.)

42 results (22% of respondents) were analyzed.

"The entity should have long-term security. Some question the 'resources (financial), manpower and expertise' that would be required by Blackfoot Challenge to ensure long-term stewardship / management of the property. 'Where will the Challenge be 5, 10, 15 years from now?'"

"Private community ownership raised questions related to 1) how to establish a board that represents the community, 2) how to make decisions given divided community interests 3) how to balance sustainability with economic need to maximize profits 4) how to integrate decisions in the long-term with changing federal and state interests 5) accountability for decisions made 6) the depth of skills needed to manage the land."

"The land should be kept private and on the tax rolls."

"Owning land requires taking positions on issues. The Blackfoot Challenge has the 'wrong makeup and charter and should stay a non-landowning entity' and the project would effect their success as a non-advocacy-based organization. A separate legal entity (with legal and business counsel) should be established to take on this effort."

"Who is the Blackfoot Challenge? Are they local? Who does the board represent? Is there an official membership list? How many board members live in Ovando?"

"How will the Blackfoot Challenge handle liability insurance and maintenance costs?"

"What are the other options for ownership? Who will pay for the land? Is public money being used to purchase the property?"

"Recommendations for ownership by TNC, RMEF, state and federal agencies with a longer track record in management and organizational infrastructure."

Survey Question: #5

"In your opinion, should a long-term management plan be developed for the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area?"

Need More Information 16.1%
Yes 83%
No 1.6%

Survey Question:

"Please explain why or why not"

32 results (17% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Long term planning is 'necessary' for the following reasons:
  1) Need to set goals to measure future management activities; key evaluation tool.
  2) Helps build 'community understanding & acceptance' of land use decisions.
  3) Provides a framework for decision-making for land managers.
  4) Prevents future conflicts and disputes.
  5) Ensures the public can be part of the process; building accountability mechanism.
  6) Plan must be flexible to adapt to changing resource conditions and other unforseen circumstances."

Survey Question:

"If yes, who do you think should develop the plan?
  Blackfoot Challenge with community input
  Other (Please specify_____________________)"

Blackfoot Challenge with community input 68%
No response 21.8%
Community / Locals only 3.1%
Blackfoot Challenge with professional land managers / experts 2.1%
Other long-term owners (e.g. land trust/agency) 1.0%
Professional land managers / experts only 0.5%

Survey Question: #6

"In your own words, please describe for what purposes you would like to see the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area managed."

44 results (23% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Multiple use, based on tradional uses of the land, timber, grazing, public access, and recreation. Maintained as a 'natural representative area where human use is balanced with the preservation of the native animal and plant communities.'"

"Should be a demonstration area for innovative private land management practices, providing for education and research opportunities on forest stewardship."

"Fire and weed management is a must. Repair of present day road, weed, forest vegetation, and stream resources."

"A number of uses as reflected in Question #1., including low impact recreational opportunities: hunting, hiking trail for foot and horse traffic only, snowmobile and ski use, trapping, fishing, limited to no motorized traffic, photography, berry picking."

Survey Question: #7

"Who are the people you see as comprising the "community" for whose benefit the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area should be managed by and for? Please rank the following from 1 - 5 in order of importance (with 1 most important)."

[Unfortunately, the full survey question (the choices to be ranked) and the actual survey results are not provided; only the results for the #1 ranking are provided, as indicated below.]

"Respondents scored all residents of the Blackfoot Valley as both of #1 and #2 in importance. The other two categories that ranked the next highest were property owners adjacent to the area and specific communities."

Ranked #1 Most Important
Frequencies - By Percent
All Residents of the Blackfoot Valley 38%
Property Owners Adjacent to the Area 18%
Anyone Who Wants to Use the Area 13%
Specific Communities 11%
Other 2%

Survey Question: #8

"Please describe in your own words what you think you or your family would like the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area to become."

43 results (22% of respondents) were analyzed.

The items listed are "common themes and additional issues not raised in the above results; and not listed in any particular order."

"As found in Question 1., comments relating to a vision of the BCCA supporting diverse wildlife, wildlife habitat, and minimal impact recreation. With regard to the latter, respondents wanted access for activities that have occurred in the past."

"'Leaving the area as natural as can be' while others envisioned 'well-managed.'"

"The BCCA should be a 'showcase' of good, cooperative stewardship and collaborative management."

Survey Question: #9

"What other community benefits may be important considerations for the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area?"

29 results (15% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Educational benefits of the BCCA, a type of 'outdoor laboratory' for local schools and researchers."

"BCCA contributing to the local economy, from taxes, seasonal tourists / travelers, recreation and sustainably managed timber."

Survey Question: #10

"Please describe any concerns you have with the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area Project."

42 results (21% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Fear that activities with strong impact will be permited (ATV, farming, ranching, logging); but also fear that it would be 'locked up' to public use."

"Concern that it does not become an elitist area, controlled by 'narrow-focus minority groups or groups;' that a few might profit by its purchase."

"Desire to see the governing body elected and representative of the majority of views of landowners in the Blackfoot Valley."

"Concern that financial returns don't become the highest priority rather than protection of the resources."

Survey Question: #11

"One of the main goals of the Blackfoot Challenge is to preserve the rural lifestyle in the Blackfoot watershed. Please describe what rural lifestyle means to you."

42 results (21% of respondents) were analyzed.

"Low population density; low crime rate; lack of subdivisions; limited development (no more roads, buildings or yard lights). Preventing it from becoming like Bitterroot Valley, Kalispell, Bozeman."

"Community values such as belonging to a community / extended family -- knowing friends, neighbors, peace and quiet. Being part of community projects and decision making. People helping each other."

"Maintaining 'biological value': open space, wildlife, see the stars, be able to explore beautiful areas, ability to provide basic needs (firewood, water, grow own food)."

"Natural resource based activities such as ranching / farming, logging and fishing."

"Live a more simple and less commercial lifestyle. Feeling of being connected to the land and nature."

Survey Question: #12

"Should the concept of a wider forest cooperative and the possibility of expanding the area to include up to 20,000 adjacent acres be explored?"

Need More Information 28.5%
Yes 57.0%
No 8.8%

Survey Question:

"Please explain why or why not."

31 results (16% of respondents) were analyzed.

"The more land the better for a 'collaborative forest management' model. Create a pilot project for other cummunities to explore. Conservation of a larger acreage guarantees the area will be open for future generations."

"Need to 'pool funds, staff and resources.'"

"Move cautiously forward. Start with a plan for the 5,600 acres and then decide if we should expand."

"Do not take on more at this point. Start small."

"Area management is not confined to ownership boundaries. 'Animals do not understand or respect boundaries, nor do some people.' It is more beneficial to manage the land according to geography versus legal boundaries."

Survey Question: #13

"Please indicate how you would like to be involved in planning for the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area by checking one of the following."

Keep posted through notices and community meetings 71%
Desire active involvement via volunteer work group 22%
Prefer to not be involved 1.6%

Other answers included

Survey Question: #14

"Please indicate how you would like to be contacted in the future."

U.S. mail 64%
email 28%
None of the above 1%

Survey Question:

"Please use the back of this page for any additional comments you would like to make regarding either the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area or the Blackfoot Challenge itself."

[No results provided.]