Staff & Board
Erin Fairbank, Executive Director
Erin's first experience with the Rocky Mountain Front was during a backpack trip in 1998. Her background includes 17 years of wildlife and vegetation field work throughout Montana, Idaho and Alaska. She became involved with weed management in 2004 as a seasonal technician at The Nature Conservancy's Pine Butte Swamp Preserve west of Choteau. She has lived in Choteau and worked in the region since 2003.
Learn more about our work:
Board of Directors
Mark Korte, Chair - Teton County Weed Coordinator
Joe Dellwo, Vice Chair - Teton County Commissioner
Diane Gollehon, Treasurer - Teton County Landowner, CPA
Kevin Stone, Secretary - Teton River Watershed Group
Luke Coccoli, Member - Theordore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch
Pam Converse, Member - Pondera County Weed Coordinator
Clay Crawford, Member - Teton County Landowner
Larry Hoffman, Member - Lewis & Clark County Weed Coordinator
Dona Rutherford, Member - Blackfeet Fish & Wildlife
Mary Sexton, Member - Teton County Landowner
Paul Wick, Member - Teton County Planner
Paula Gunderson, Liaison - Natural Resources Conservation Service
Dawn LaFleur, Liaison - Glacier National Park
Jim Lange, Liaison - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Steve Smith, Liaison - Bureau of Land Management
In early 2000, landowners and key agency personnel from the Helena National Forest and US Fish & Wildlife Service, along with local watershed groups and weed districts, began to talk to one another about threats both to the ranching economy and wildlife and habitat posed by noxious weeds. At the time, uncoordinated weed control efforts were largely ineffective and fingers were pointed across fencelines. Out of these talks grew the first drainage-based spray and weed pull days, initially in the Dearborn, Sun, and Teton drainages.
It was collaboration that ultimately began what is now the award-winning Rocky Mountain Front Weed Roundtable, a group that has evolved substantially since its early days:
• 2004 – Signed original MOU among Roundtable partners
• 2005 – Hired first part-time Coordinator
• 2008 – Expanded project area into nine primary drainages
• 2010 – Acquired non-profit 501(c)3 status
• 2013 – Hired first full-time Executive Director
• 2015 – Approved 3-year Operational Plan
• 2016 – Completed NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant
The Weed Roundtable’s project area now encompasses approximately 3 million acres which includes the entire Rocky Mountain Front and surrounding lands, 9 primary drainages and numerous rural communities from the Canadian border south to the Dearborn River, west to continental divide and east to highways 89/287. It includes private, state, and federal lands; and portions of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This complex mix of landownership and stewardship along the Front generates a critical need for coordination of noxious weed management.
The Weed Roundtable is now the single galvanizing force on the Front, coordinating public and private weed managers. The driving commonality of this dedicated group is to benefit the natural and local economic resources of the Rocky Mountain Front, home to iconic wildlands, ranchlands, and a national park.
In addition to drainage-based spray days and community weed pulls, we now manage a robust, landscape-wide biological weed control project, integrated into the Roundtable’s overall weed management efforts. Biological controls are a proven, cost-effective, and environmentally compatible means of managing weeds.
Due to the Roundtable’s efforts, millions of beneficial insects have been released and monitored along the Front. In 2016 alone, over 300,000 leafy spurge flea beetles were collected from field insectaries along the Front and 20,000 knapweed root-boring weevils were purchased and distributed across our project area. Over 150 volunteers sprayed, pulled, and learned about noxious weeds at 11 cooperative events. In 1998, roughly 500 pounds of knapweed were pulled in the very first Sun Canyon Weed Whacker Rodeo; since then, over seven tons have been pulled at this annual event.
The Weed Roundtable also has been the central funding entity for weed management, including a four-year, $220,000 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), a research-based effort to establish economically viable weed management. The CIG project has influenced a key cadre of landowners to use effective weed management on over 117,000 acres that, in turn, will enhance the resiliency of native plant communities vital for the local ecology and economy. A noxious weed database for extensive tracking of weed information has also been a much-needed achievement.
The outcomes of the CIG project will be shared with weed managers across the region, and thereby will provide adaptive management to others based on learning from the grant outcomes.