A new report from The Wilderness Society takes a look at 15 collaborative groups around Montana that have designed plans with input from businesses, conservation groups, land managers and recreation organizations.

Public News Service reported that retired Montana Republican lawmaker Bob Brown participated in a collaboration and found that, even when people have very different views, talking it out uncovers wide swaths of common ground.

“It’s real people at the grassroots level,” he said, “looking at each other face-to-face to make decisions that affect all of us.”

The report lists collaboration successes, such as the Southwestern Crown, which has created more than 200 jobs, treated more than 28,000 acres for invasive species, improved trails and campgrounds and restored wildlife habitat. But the report also warns that collaborations are threatened by lack of funding, and need more agency participation and support in Congress.

Even when opinions are diverse, said Gary Burnett, executive director of The Blackfoot Challenge, Montanans are civil folks and know how to build trust so solutions can be crafted.

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