In the eight years since Michael Jamison helped negotiate a deal to pass historic federal legislation permanently banning new energy development along the North Fork Flathead River, which forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park, Michael Jamison has continued to advocate for protections for all corners of the crown provided of the continent.
Through his wide-ranging role with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Jamison has forged powerful coalitions of community interests from unlikely allies to improve public land management in the Whitefish Range of Flathead National Forest while leading the charge to shut down energy leases Badger -Two Medicine, a culturally and ecologically sacred area for the Blackfeet Nation. He has worked closely with a generation of Superintendents overseeing the administration of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park to ensure that resource conservation and community action remain key pillars of their stewardship role.
He has also helped raise awareness of Montana communities and tribal nations affected by transboundary pollution resulting from Canadian coal mines in BC and brought international attention to a complex jurisdictional battle that is still ongoing.
Over those eight years, Jamison has received many awards and accolades for his work, but the most recent feather in his cap marks his proudest recognition.
Earlier this month, the North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) announced that it had selected Jamison as the recipient of this year’s Glacier National Park Stewardship Award.
In announcing the award, Flannery Coats Freund, President of the NFPA, described Jamison as “a passionate, timeless, courageous, thoughtful and fearless leader in the world of conservation in the universal sense. He literally knows no bounds in his endeavors. Without him, North Fork would not be what it is today.”
Jamison was instrumental in passing the North Fork Watershed Protection Act in 2014 when he helped rally bipartisan support for a measure to ban new energy development on a 430,000-acre wild and scenic river corridor.
Produced in Montana, the bill garnered near-universal acclaim even at the height of partisanship, and was hailed by conservationists, oil tycoons, and politicians alike as a sensible piece of legislation — 80 percent of the region’s energy leases had been voluntarily released, and that too with the efforts of Parliament of British Columbia to establish similar protections north of the border on the headwaters of the Flathead River.
Since 2010, he has helped plan and fund conservation across the continent’s Crown, a region spanning approximately 16,000 square miles of Montana, Alberta and BC
According to Dave Hadden, a regional conservation leader who has worked with Jamison and previously received the NFPA award, Jamison’s commitment to conservation craftsmanship and creative verve to solve problems is unrivaled.
“If ever there was someone unsung for their efforts, intelligence, passion and results in protecting Glacier Park and the North Fork of the Flathead River, that person would be Michael,” Hadden said. “How does he do it? He shows up. He keeps showing up. He thinks creatively. He speaks directly to the decision makers. He thinks a few steps ahead of everyone, including those who stand in the way of protecting this place. He also brings other people with gentle and sure encouragement. I have never seen him “wrong”. We are all very grateful that his radiance was shown on Glacier and North Fork.”
According to Sarah Lundstrom, Jamison’s co-strategist and colleague at NPCA, “He’s definitely thinking outside the box. When he cannot find the solution to a problem, his answer is to make it bigger. His creativity in leveraging is brilliant, he has drawn international attention to small regional problems and pushed mountains of problems into possible solution. He is committed to the crown in body, mind and spirit. And that obligation extends to the people of the Crown.”
Jamison is a longtime Montana resident, earned a journalism degree from the University of Montana, and worked for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hungry Horse News for years before serving as head of the paper’s Flathead Valley bureau in Missoulia for 14 years. He reported on Glacier National Park with a focus on natural resources, environmental policy and science reporting. His reporting has earned him numerous national awards recognizing his contribution to writing about environmental and conservation history and the interaction between people and landscapes. He is currently campaign manager for the NPCA’s Crown of the Continent initiative.
According to Coat’s friend, the NFPA presents the Glacier National Park Stewardship Award every few years to recognize the work of local conservationists and their commitment to the continent’s crown.
The award was established by Headwaters Montana and was formerly known as the Jack Potter Stewardship Award. Past recipients include: Lisa Bates, a biologist at Glacier National Park; Tim Manley, a bear-human conflict specialist at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Brad Blickhan, Glacier National Park Wilderness Manager; and Hadden, from Headwaters.
If you know someone who deserves this recognition, let the NFPA know by visiting www.gravel.org or by contacting one of the board members listed on the site.