Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Roger Dey
Editor, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Blackfoot Challenge, Curtin part company


November 8, 2018

OVANDO - The Blackfoot Challenge announced the selection of Charles Curtin as their new executive director in February but just seven months later, the organization and Curtin have parted ways.

The Blackfoot Challenge has been tightlipped about why they parted ways with Curtin in September. In response to an inquiry form from the Blackfoot Valley Dispatch, Challenge Communications Manager Sara Schmidt said the details are an internal matter and “it just didn’t work out.”

Curtin likewise had little to say on the subject, but acknowledged there were differences regarding approaches to the organization’s management and its future direction.

Jim Stone, the chairman of the Blackfoot Challenge Board of Directors, is currently listed on their website as the Interim Executive Director.

Despite the change in leadership, Schmidt said the Blackfoot Challenge Economics/Rural Sustainability Program, which Curtin often mentioned as an important component for the watershed’s future, continues to be a priority. She said they are working to identify opportunities for watershed-wide projects. Stone also confirmed that Curtin’s departure would not affect any of the Blackfoot Challenge’s other established programs.

For his part, Curtin intends to remain in the Blackfoot Valley for the foreseeable future and said his goal is to continue to seek ways to help sustain communities and the environment here. He said he has some projects under development, but nothing he could discuss specifically yet.

According to Stone they will potentially open the Executive Director position to applicants in January.

The Blackfoot Challenge, a land-owner based group that coordinates resource management efforts throughout the watershed, celebrated its 25th year Aug. 15 with a celebration in Ovando. Working on an 80/20 rule that focuses on the 80 percent people have in common rather than the 20 percent they don’t, it has become a model for similar collaborative organizations.


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