February 25, 2021
If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that the great outdoors hold tremendous beauty and healing properties. Montana, as the welcoming home it has always been, quickly and not surprisingly became a safe haven during COVID-19. It has offered plentiful fresh air and space for people to remain a safe distance from one another. Not to mention, people have finally had extra time to safely visit Montana’s iconic outdoor wonders such as the Madison, Missouri and Blackfoot Rivers, Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park and so many more amazing places.
For the past decade, Xplorer Maps has aspired to connect people and place; it’s all made possible by people like you who carry joy, curiosity, and wonder in your hearts and who care about mapping all the moments that make spending time outdoors special. Thanks to you, we’ve been able to achieve our goal. With each purchase of a map, we donate a portion of the proceeds to many of our collaborative project partners like the Montana Wilderness Association, and their respective non-profit organizations working tirelessly to preserve and protect these public lands and wild lands throughout the country. Now showcasing over 50 original hand-drawn and painted maps featuring destinations worldwide, we aim to encourage exploration, education, and adventure. We’ve also continued to process our current, unprecedented times and begun to think even more in-depth about ways we can give back to the lands we love and honor those public lands closest to home.
We’re privileged to be partnering with Montana Wilderness Association (MWA) as we seek to give back. If you’ve ever experienced any of Montana’s outdoor wonders, you’ve likely come across the work of MWA. They began working in 1958 with a mission to protect Montana’s wild and public lands. For 63 years, MWA has brought Montanans together to fight for the future of the wild lands and wildlife that make Montana special. They’ve played a role in protecting every one of Montana’s 14 Wilderness Areas and a whole lot more.
Throughout the 2020 holiday season, Xplorer Maps committed to give 25% of sales from our Montana, Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone National Park products back to Montana Wilderness Association. As a result, we wrote a check in late January for more than $1,000 to support their conservation efforts.
Xplorer Maps is truly thrilled to partner with an organization that shares our values to preserve and protect all types of public lands in this state. We look forward to aiding in the care of these special places, and not just the well-known and loved big-name destinations. Recently, we got the chance to speak with Kassia Randzio, MWA’s interim Development Director, to see what they think about our partnership and how we can continue to grow together.
Xplorer Maps (XM): What are some areas MWA protects?
Kassia Randzio (KR): For years, we’ve been building grassroots support to protect the headwaters of the Blackfoot and Clearwater Rivers, which are incredible bull trout spawning streams and the most productive lynx breeding grounds in the lower 48 states. This area is located just 45 minutes from Xplorer’s world headquarters in Missoula.
In eastern Montana, at the request of local community leaders, we advocated for new state parks and fishing access sites along the Lower Yellowstone River to secure public access and strengthen the area’s outdoor recreation economy.
In northwest Montana, we’re working to protect 180,000 acres of the Kootenai National Forest, where ancient forests and alpine peaks are home to grizzly bears and wolverine.
We’re also working to end outdated oil and gas leasing practices on public lands, protect the wild Madison and Gallatin ranges near Yellowstone, and to elevate the voices of the Apsáalookee (Crow) to protect the Crazy Mountains, an island range home to bighorn sheep and central to Apsáalookee spiritual and cultural practices.
XM: How can people help spread MWA’s mission?
KR: Get involved! Join our Volunteer Trail Crew, which has improved and maintained trails all across Montana. We also organize volunteers to serve as ambassadors at some of Montana’s most popular trailheads, to help folks take better care of the places where we play. We also organize more than 100 Wilderness Walks, which are free, guided hikes that introduce people to places worthy of protection. If you want to learn more, join our email list for all the latest news and updates.
XM: What makes MWA different?
KR: At MWA, all our work is powered by people -- grassroots supporters joining as members, speaking up on behalf of wildlife and wildlands, and volunteering. It’s truly a community of people who love the outdoors and champion wild places.
XM: How does MWA envision Xplorer helping tell their story?
KR: We’re excited to partner with Xplorer Maps on a long-term partnership for conservation. Companies like you can play a major role in building the movement for public lands, and we’re grateful for the work Xplorer does through map-making. Xplorer Maps portrays the unique beauty of Montana, which brings people together from all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about MWA, volunteer, or join as a member, I hope you’ll visit our website (linked at the bottom of this article) to see how you can support our work for a wilder Montana.
At Xplorer Maps, we celebrate places like the Kootenai National Forest; not just the lines on a map, but the land, the people, and the wildlife. We’re a family-owned business that wants to give back to the places we love, and it’s an honor to partner with Montana Wilderness Association. So, celebrate with us and #MapYourMoment! Be a part of what we and MWA are doing to give back to the lands you “xplore.”
Be sure to check out our websites and follow us both on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay in the know. We hope you enjoy being on this journey with us to protect our lands and bring fine art of the outdoors to your home.
Montana Wilderness Association can be found at Wildmontana.org and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Connect with Xplorer Maps on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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