Shared solutions to protect shared values

  • Bowling Ball Beach in Northern California. Credit: Matt McIntosh / NOAA ONMS.

Crown of the Continent

The Crown Managers Partnership (CMP) is a voluntary transboundary partnership of state, federal and provincial agencies, universities, Tribes and First Nations in Montana, Alberta and British Columbia in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. The partnership formed in 2001 to address common ecological challenges across jurisdictional boundaries in the Crown of the Continent. Recognizing that no single agency has the mandate or resources to address landscape-scale environmental issues, the CMP and its partners are working to address stressors that transcend jurisdictions, such as climate change, invasive species and land use, and conserve iconic species and the landscape processes that support them in the Crown of the Continent. Over time, the CMP has developed a Crown-wide transboundary geospatial database to inform management for ecological integrity in the Crown of the Continent.

In 2014, the CMP joined forces with the Crown Conservation Initiative (an NGO collaboration), the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership and The Wilderness Society to form the Crown Adaptation Partnership (CAP) to implement coordinated climate change adaptation strategies across the Crown of the Continent ecosystem. The goals of the Crown Adaptation Partnership are to:

Figure 7. Crown of the Continent Partnership map.
Figure 7. Crown of the Continent Partnership map.
  • Identify shared adaptation strategies that build resilience to current and projected climate change impacts to the forests and watersheds, wildlife and fish of the Crown of the Continent;
  • Coordinate strategies at multiple scales to achieve borderless outcomes across the Crown;
  • Identify and replicate examples of successful climate adaptation actions across the landscape; and
  • Develop landscape-scale learning networks and adaptive management frameworks that identify and fill key information gaps.

A Crown-wide Climate Adaptation Workshop was held March 19-24, 2014 in Missoula, Montana where participants identified shared priorities at the landscape scale within the Crown.

Six climate change conservation priorities were identified at the end of the workshop including:

  • Aquatic invasive species
  • Five needle pine restoration
  • Cold-water adapted native salmonids
  • Terrestrial invasive plants
  • Prescribed fire in mixed severity fire regimes
  • Meso-carnivores and landscape connectivity

Since 2014, three workshops have been held, focusing on 1) Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout, 2) Terrestrial Invasive Plants and 3) Five Needle Pine. Outcomes and on the ground actions from each workshop are listed below.

Cold Adapted Native Salmonids

  • Crown-wide identification of native salmonid conservation populations most likely to benefit from adaptation actions.
  • Focus on re-founding west-slope cutthroat trout in areas of climatically suitable habitat.
  • Testing the strategy of native salmonid translocation to areas of potential climate refugia.
  • Geospatially explicit Conservation Population Assessments for Native Salmonids (led by Muhlfeld, et al, USGS)

Terrestrial Invasive Plants

  • Develop a common metric and protocols for inventory and detection.
  • Prioritize hotspots for action based on a Crown-wide management strategy.
  • Develop a data base of crown wide distribution of key invasive weeds and climate scenario projections for their populations.
  • Develop external and internal communication strategy to increase awareness.
  • Provide proven mitigations to control and reduce spread through common vectors and corridors.

Restoring Five Needle Pine Forests

  • Establishing a multi-stakeholder Crown-wide five needle pine working group
  • Implement a multi-jurisdictional monitoring network and database,
  • Communicate broadly to raise awareness and appreciation of the species and
  • Develop standardized approaches for the use of fire in five needle pine forests.

Landscape Connectivity

In partnership with the University of Montana the CMP supported the work of a graduate student to locate the gaps in the physical landscape that prevent wildlife movement including grizzly bears, wolverines, Canada lynx and wolves in the Crown of the Continent as well as gaps in capacity for completing connectivity oriented conservation. This work is on-going.

Figure 8. View from Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada looking across the international boundary into Glacier National Park, USA. Credit: Ian Dyson.
Figure 8. View from Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada looking across the international boundary into Glacier National Park, USA. Credit: Ian Dyson.

Next Steps

Canada lynx and wolverines and prescribed fire in mixed severity fire regimes are the two remaining natural resource targets identified for collaborative climate adaptation work at the scale of the Crown during the initial CAP workshop on March 2014.

A phased approach will be used to address meso-carnivores. In December of 2015, CAP collaborated with the National Forest Foundation and other partners in organizing a meso-carnivore monitoring workshop for the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington to better understand what we know about current distributions, status and jurisdictional priorities for meso-carnivores regionally. Planning for a meso-carnivore workshop will begin in 2016 with the workshop to take place in mid-2017. Collaborative work to establish Crown-wide learning networks around the use of prescribed fire in mixed severity fire regimes will commence in 2017. Coordinated work on prescribed fire will be coupled with efforts to identify successful regional strategies for applying this management tool in the face of a changing climate.

Many of the models that have been developed for the CMP could be applied to any region especially regions that are transboundary in nature. For more information visit:


  1. Transboundary Geospatial Datasets and Maps                      
    • Climate models of occupancy and distribution for a suite of priority invasive plants in the Crown of the Continent (Beltran, November, 2016)
    • Human Modification Index layer for the Crown of the Continent (Blackadder, April, 2016)
    • Conservation Population Assessments for Native Salmonids for the Crown of the Continent (Muhlfeld, Jones, Fall, 2017)
    • Occupancy models for Whitebark pine and Limber pine in the Crown of the Continent (Blackadder, October, 2016)
    • Monitoring locations and distribution of Eurasian Water Millefoil in the Crown of the Continent (Hanson, April, 2016)
    • High risk lakes for Eurasian Water Millefoil in the Crown of the Continent (Hanson, April, 2016)
    • Snowpack Analysis for the watershed units of the Crown of the Continent (Broberg, Chernoff, in review)
    • NPScapes Crown of the Continent, Landscape Dynamics Trend Analysis for the Crown of the Continent (January, 2017)
  2. Conservation Strategies, Publications and Toolboxes:
    • A Crown Adaptation Toolbox for the Crown of the Continent (Carlson, April, 2016)
    • We Need the Needles: Coordinating Action to Conserve 5-Needle Pine Forests in the Crown of the Continent (Nelson, et al. May, 2016)
    • Crown-wide Management Strategy for Detection, Response and Containment of Aquatic Invasive Species; Eurasian Water Millefoil, Zebra and Quagga Mussel (in review, November, 2016)
    • Using Historical Climate Data to Rank Watershed Climate Change Resilience (Broberg, Chernoff, In Review)
    • Taking Action on Climate Change in the Crown of the Continent, Elsevier's Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene (Nelson, et al., In Review)
    • Modelling Whitebark Pine across the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem (Blackadder, et al. In Review)

During the Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative the CMP has successfully engaged with other agencies in the US (EPA and BLM), has formed partnerships and is engaged in collaborative projects with the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, NGO's and other groups throughout the Crown of the Continent


Challenges for completing many of the landscape scale efforts in the Crown of the Continent came via three forms: funding, capacity, and commitment. Funding for projects and workshops limited the resources that were available to complete priority outcomes and actions. Capacity of current partnership members is limited in a voluntary partnership ultimately impacting the progress and speed of the identified actions. The CMP seeks to formalize the transboundary work in this ecosystem by developing an MOU that would be signed by federal, provincial, state and local universities that commits funding and ongoing participation. Efforts are continuing to address this.

Lessons Learned

Workshops are an excellent tool for linking scientists, managers and stakeholders together to collaboratively develop priority outcomes. Greater capacity is needed to ensure follow-through on workshop action items and ultimately for the development of Crown-wide working groups to develop action plans and deliver on out-comes. Other lessons learned include:

  • Develop common geospatial templates from which all partners can work.
  • Communicate often with all partners involved in the partnership.
  • Have in person meetings to re-connect and build relationships.
  • Value input from all parties and divide workload appropriately.
  • Be prepared to invest time to develop institutional comfort levels.
  • Look for opportunities to raise profile and seek support.
  • Celebrate and share successes.
  • Learn from and share failures.