The Crown of the Continent: The Wildest Rockies

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From the edge of the Great Plains rises a huge mass of mountains, broken by valleys that hold the headwaters to the Pacific, Hudson Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. Known to Native Americans as “The Backbone of the World,” the region boasts a successful and inspiring history of conservation. Today, the 16,000 square miles of land stretching along the Continental Divide from Banff National Park to the Blackfoot River in Montana remain one of the most intact ecosystems remaining in North America.

Known as the Crown of the Continent, the region provides habitat for a community of species unmatched in the world, and is one of the only places in the world where no native plant or animal has gone extinct in recent centuries. Public lands make up the heart of the Crown, including Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park and UN World Heritage Sites, the Bob Marshal Wilderness Complex, tribal wilderness, and numerous provincial parks and forest reserves. These core areas and the corridors between them protect a critical linking zone for wildlife, including lynx, grizzly bear, wolverine, grey wolf, Bull trout and Westlope cutthroat trout. 

Photographer Steven Gnam, a Montana native, has been documenting the wildlife and landscape of the Crown and other parts of North America for 12 years. His images, accompanied by essays from Douglas H. Chadwick, Michael Jamison, Dylan Boye, and Karsten Heuer, will explore the importance of the Crown for wildlife as well as humans.

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