994182_799102073443970_858726230339738252_nIn November, we posted our 2014 Create & Conserve contest winner video, shot on location at Keith Fortin’s rustic retreat near Whitehall, Montana. I led the Create & Conserve construction team, along with my Bobcat Company colleagues, working with Rick and Julie Kreuter from “Beyond the Hunt.” Over the course of a week, we helped Keith transform his property into a sustainable wildlife habitat.

“Sustainable” is a key word for Keith, a contractor and historic preservationist who strives to live sustainably — for the most part, “off the grid” — in southwestern Montana. His home is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.

We selected Keith’s entry, along with four other semifinalists, from among the thousands of entries and visited the five sites before selecting a winner. In September, we returned to Whitehall to undertake the project, and by the end of the week, it was done.

With the 2015 Create & Conserve contest currently underway, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what we look for in a winning entry:

  • Can we envision the end result well enough to judge your entry? We rely on your written essay as well as supplemental photography to screen the top entries from the thousands that come in. Paint a picture in our minds. Some of the 2014 entries had just a few sentences and no photography, giving us little to judge their merits.
  • Can the project be accomplished in a week? Describe what you hope to accomplish on your property. Practically speaking, we allow ourselves 4 to 5 working days to complete the various conservation projects. Keith Fortin’s project included:
    • Clearing out invasive, non-native vegetation
    • Creating a pond fed by natural springs
    • Installing irrigation and developing a food plot
  • Can the project be done using Bobcat® compact equipment? If your goal is to move a mountain or clear a forest, it probably cannot be done with Bobcat equipment (at least in a week) and won’t qualify for Create & Conserve. If you do have a project that you think would take longer than a week, show us what you would like to accomplish if you won. It’s OK to have large goals for your land, but show us how we can help in the week we are there.
  • Do you need professional photography? No, but suitable photography will help us visualize the setting and what you hope to accomplish. If you’ve started some projects show us what has been done. When shooting the photos take wide shots so the judges can see the potential for the property.
  • Do you have to own Bobcat equipment to win the Create & Conserve contest? We’d love to have you as a Bobcat equipment owner, but that factor will neither qualify nor disqualify you.
  • Will the sustainability efforts continue on the property once the Bobcat crew leaves? We want to partner with a land owner who has a passion for land sustainability. The winner should be someone who is willing to sustain what we create and expand on it to make it last for decades. We hope this is not just a land-clearing project, but something that will enhance the land and provide a better habitat for wildlife.

Watch the winning videos to get some ideas for your 2015 Create & Conserve contest entry. Here are links to the 2014 video and 2013 video. You can also check out the photos below to see what images previous winners have submitted. Perhaps your story will be the next one we feature!

Enter the 2015 Create & Conserve contest.

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