Past projects

Bolle Center Projects before 2015

Participatory Research

Participatory Research on Land Use and Conservation in the West

Participatory research is a cooperative approach among scientists, individuals and communities to conducting research. Questions asked, methods used, data collected and analyzed, and their application to on-the-ground issues are shared between researchers and others instigating the research. The Bolle Center is committed to enhancing the training and use of participatory research ideas and tools.

Links to information on participatory research are available from the University of California-Berkeley and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

Over the years, the Bolle Center has responded to a number of requests to offer training and/or conduct participatory research. These include:

Training in Practical Methods in Participatory Research

From May 27-28, 2009, former Bolle Center Director Dr. Jill Belsky assisted with the workshop on "Practical Methods in Community Inquiry" in Troutdale, Oregon. The workshop was supported by the United States Forest Service, PNW and organized by the Economics for Peace Institute (EPI). The training involved clarification of participatory research approaches, strategies and tools and how they can be better utilised in environmental and policy decision-making. Dr. Belsky led a session on strategies for enhancing the rigor of participatory research. For additional information about the workshop and participatory research contact Myriem Le Ferrand, Director of the Economics for Peace Institute

Multiparty Monitoring for Community Wild Fire Planning: Community Benefits and Outreach

The Bolle Center assisted with a multiparty monitoring effort related to the Holland Pierce Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project, one of the first such projects in the country. During January - February 2007, Bolle Center Director Dr. Jill Belsky trained volunteers from the upper Swan valley to conduct a phone survey of landowners adjacent to the Holland Pierce project area assessing their knowledge and concerns relating to the fuels reduction project plans and outreach efforts. These data were used to monitor ongoing efforts of the USFS to include local communities in the fuels reduction and forest health project and to provide other community benefits. 

Community Responses to Corporate Timberland Divestment

The Bolle Center cconducted research and provided assistance in a variety of ways to partnerships involved in purchasing and providing social and ecologically sustainable alternatives to the sale and sub-division of former corporate timberlands. The timber industry refers to former timberlands that bring higher financial returns as real estate rather than for timber, and selected for divestment, as "higher and better use lands." For information about the two largest and successful efforts to purchase former Plum Creek timber lands see The Montana Legacy Project and The Blackfoot Community Project.

Documenting Landowner Views in the Upper Swan and Ovando Valleys

Supported by grants from the Kendall and Kelley Foundations, The Bolle Center conducted participatory research with rural communities in Western Montana where corporate timber lands were divested and local communities organized to The Blackfoot Community Conservation Area Survey (conducted in collaboration with the Blackfoot Challenge and Ali Duvall) was conducted via the mail during October - December 2004 to all landowners adjacent to the proposed Blackfoot Community Conservation Area, a 5,600 acre parcel near Ovando Mountain. 

The Upper Swan Valley Land Use Survey mail survey of full time residents, part-time residents and others involved in Swan Valley land use issues is available from the Swan Ecosystem Center. 

Conservation Education

Conservation Education in Bhutan

Beginning in July 2006, the Bolle Center assisted with the development of the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bhutan, which formally opened in 2008. The Bolle Center is one of UM's College of Forestry and Conservation's partner with UWICE to develop research, training and other capacities related to sustainable development, forestry, wildlife and livelhoods in Bhutan. The Bolle Center assisted with developing expertise that builds on Bhutan's traditions of centuries-long human use and adaptation to their forest environment and Buddhist culture, and which integrates social and ecological perspectives. 

In 2008, Dr. Belsky and Dr. Steve Siebert, Professor of Tropical Forestry at UM, received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to fund graduate training of two UWICE faculty. Both Sangay Wangchuk and Wangchuk Dorji earned master's degrees in Resource Conservation at UM, the former with a focus on non-timber forest products and the latter on participatory conservation and sustainable livelihoods. A third Bhutanese, Ugyen Namgel, with the Nature Conservation Division, was partially supported by the MacArthur Foundation grant and earned a master's degree in Resource Conservation at UM with a focus on ecotourism. 

Conservation Education in Chile

During Novement 2004, the Bolle Center assisted the University of Austral in Valdivia, Chile, on an interdisciplinary educational program on sustainable development and community-based conservation. In addition to providing lectures and seminars to the University and public, the Bolle center helped to identify field research projects on the island of Chiloe that respond to the concerns of a local community forestry NGO working closely with indigenous communities adjacent to the Chiloe National Forest.

International Protected Area Management

The Bolle Center helped with the International Seminar on Protected Area Management, held each July and August at the University of Montana. This annual seminar involves approximately 25 senior park officials from across the world (not the U.S.) engaged in an intensive three week study tour based at the University of Montana and including visits to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks and the Mission Mountain Wilderness Area. The Bolle Center assists with instruction on incorporating social and ecological analyses of sustainability and community-based natural resource management. 


Supporting Collaboration

Southwestern Crown of the Continent (SWCC) Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP)

The Bolle Center helped the SWCC to conduct a social assessment in the project area to support social monitoring responsibilities of the CFLRP. During 2012 it conducted  a meta-analysis to provide background socioeconomic information of the study area including preexisting studies and relevant literature and conducted a focus group and a small set of interviews with residents and stakeholders on key topics related to current land management and participatory aspects of the SWCC. 

Seeley-Swan-Blackfoot Stewardship Summit

The Bolle Center, along with the National Forest Foundation, Northwest Connections, Swan Ecosystem Center, Blackfoot Challenge and Clearwater Resource Council organized and ran a Stewardship Summit on April 15-16, 2009, at the Double Arrow Lodge, Seeley Lake. The Summit involved residents, state and federal land management employees and key watershed groups to share information and strategies for meeting the "triple bottom line" of stewardship of natural resources, sustainable economies and vibrant rural communities. As a direct result of the meeting, all three watersheds worked together to develop the funded CFLRP proposal.


The Bolle Center helped the National Forest Foundation and the Sonoran Institute (as well as the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and others) to develop the Western Collaboration Assistance Network (WestCAN). WestCAN provides short-term expertise to help collaborative conservation organizations and efforts to get started or to work through challenging issues. For information regarding WestCAN, contact Karen DiBari, WestCAN Coordinator,

Past Events

Char Miller lecture

Renowned environmental and public lands historian, professor, and author Char Miller gave a lecture on Nov. 7, 2013. He talked about our school's past and issued some challenges for the future. Read more.

Conference on Food and Agriculture

Bolle Center Director, Jill Belsky, along with Neva Hassainen, Dept of Environmental Studies, were the local chairs organizing a major, international conference on food and agriculture held at the University of Montana from June 9-12, 2011. 

Public Lecture - Gayle D. Ness

Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Michigan"Insights from the Demographic Transitions" Monday, October 10, 2011, 4-5:30, Mansfield Center Seminar Room (Mansfield Library Level 4)

Natural Resource Environmental Policy Forum

The forum series is convened by the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy (CNEP), in cooperation with UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation, School of Law, Bolle Center for People and Forests, Resource Conservation Program, Environmental Studies Program and Department of Geography. 

Place-Based Forest Agreements and Laws Symposium, June 8-9, 2010

The National Forest Foundation and Bolle Center for People and Forests at the University of Montana invite you to participate in a symposium focused on the growing interest in various landscape level approaches to management of our National Forests.