HELENA — Landowners were honored Friday at the State Capitol for going the extra mile and being a good neighbor to their fellow Montanans.
This is the 13th year of the Montana Good Neighbor awards which are given to those who embody cooperation, land stewardship and conservation ethics, neighborly land access and community leadership.
“Through our commitment to shared stewardship, we’re demonstrating that the health and resiliency of our local economies and our natural resources go hand in hand,” Lt. Governor Mike Cooney told the honorees. “You’re setting an example of what can be accomplished when we put others ahead of ourselves. I hope that by recognizing each of you today, it will inspire more Montanans to join your efforts to be good neighbors.”
This year’s honorees include Jeff Janke of Avon; Barry Dexter of the Stimson Lumber Company in Missoula; the Stimson Lumber Company; Kip and Adele Stenson of Hodges; Jamie, Ben, Marie and Bob Lehfeldt and Lehfeldt Rambouillets of Lavina; and the Sunlight Ranch Company of Hardin, which includes the Holding family, Bret Barney, Bryan Elliot, Brandon Collingwood and the Sunlight Cowboys.
Janke has worked to restore portions of the Little Blackfoot River on his property while maintaining his cattle ranching operation.
“Being on the conservation district I’ve seen the need for habitat improvement and the way to do that is through partnerships,” said Janke. “If you’re not willing to share, then people often aren’t willing to share with you.”
The ranch has historically allowed access to the property for fishing, and Janke said people have always respected having that access.
“I built a little parking area for the fishermen to park and I have noticed that if there is a pop can or a piece of garbage, the next one that comes in picks it up. I don’t have to,” said Janke.
The Montana Good Neighbor Awards is a working group made up of conservation organizations from around the state including Fish Wildlife and Parks; Montana Association of Land Trusts; Montana Farm Bureau; Artemis Common Ground; The Nature Conservancy of Montana and Montana Council of Trout Unlimited.
More information about the Good Neighbor Awards can be found here.