I have a real appreciation for people like Keith Fortin, who lives “off the grid” at his mountaintop retreat in Montana. Keith had a wildfire come through a portion of his property, so he is trying to reuse the burnt timber and make his property more wildlife-friendly. I got to know Keith during the 2014 Bobcat Create and Conserve habitat event — he was selected to receive a large-scale habitat/conservation project, so we formed a work team that included Rick and Julie Kreuter from the television show “Beyond the Hunt” and took several Bobcat machines to Keith’s property to complete a variety of projects related to conservation.
Why does Bobcat have such a strong interest in conservation? The fact that we are a North Dakota company and many Bobcat employees have roots in the rural communities of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota greatly influences our values. We share a respect for the land, the crops it produces and the livestock (and wildlife) it supports.
We also share a passion for Bobcat products that our customers use every day — many of them to develop and maintain the land. We see it as our responsibility to create and market new machines and attachments to help customers who wish to restore the land, bring back native plant species and encourage healthy new growth.
We support those who believe the land is our legacy, and we need to leave it in better condition than we found it — knowing that such a commitment will benefit generations to come, just as we have benefited from our ancestors’ work.
One of the goals of the Create and Conserve program is to encourage sustainability. The first two projects have included conservation plots, self-sustaining ponds and removal of invasive vegetation — with the goal of providing a place for wildlife to thrive. I am an avid hunter and outdoorsman, so I know the importance of good habitat.
What we have observed in the first two Create and Conserve projects in 2013 and 2014 suggests that many others share our passion. When we selected Keith Fortin to transform his property near Whitehall, Montana, we appreciated his sense of stewardship. “From the day we bought this property,” Keith told us, “We knew that our job was to be the proper stewards of the land, not just the trees and the water, but of every critter that’s on here.”
While the improvements we made to Keith’s property were pretty substantial in just a week’s time, I think the long-term effect will be even more amazing. Because his land had many natural springs, we were able to build a pond that would provide another water source for wildlife and provide irrigation for a food plot, which will attract and retain even more wildlife.
Long-term, our goal is to encourage others to follow our example and apply it on their own property. My friends Rick and Julie Kreuter of “Beyond the Hunt” share that philosophy.
Rick — who is a Bobcat equipment owner — looks at it this way: “The thing I’m passionate about is creating something out of nothing. I see such potential. I’m always looking for places to use our Bobcat equipment. It handles everything. This equipment is going to revolutionize land management and the way we do things out in the field, making the ground better habitat for wildlife. If you build it, they (wildlife) will come.”
And we all agree.
Check out the summary videos below showing how Bobcat Company aided in the sustainability and conservation efforts for the 2013 and 2014 winners of the Bobcat Create & Conserve contest.