In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Montana was awarded an Innovations in American Government Award for community-based conservation in partnership with the Blackfoot Challenge, a watershed group in the Blackfoot watershed of western Montana.

The $100,000 grant from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government was awarded to transfer the model of cooperative conservation, build trust and partnerships between private landowners and public agency managers, provide consensus-based solutions to natural resource issues, and recommend ways to improve cooperative conservation at local, regional, and national scales.

In 2008 and 2009, meetings were held in Montana and Colorado with representatives from 11 western states to share information, experiences, challenges, and solutions to private land conservation.

Partners for Conservation (PFC) developed from these discussions and represents the private landowners and partners that are practicing innovative, measurable, and effective conservation practices on the ground for the long-term health and productivity of working landscapes and rural communities across the United States. While the organization has its roots in the ranching country of the West, Partners for Conservation continues to expand across the country with board leadership from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and has reached farmers, foresters, and the partners that work with them.