By Sharlyn Izurieta Big Sky Weekly Contributor

The Tributary Fund is a local nonprofit
headquartered in Bozeman
with offices in Mongolia and Bhutan.
Betsy Gaines Quammen founded
TTF in 2004 to help Buddhist monks
become involved with watershed
project located in the Hovsgol province
in northern Mongolia.
Since 2004, TTF has continued to
expand its programs and mission to
“engage communities in conservation
solutions by connecting religious,
scientific and local leaders” and is
committed to the protection of native
species, lands and waters. The organization
ensures that “local priorities
are understood and cultural cadence
guides protection efforts.”
TTF connects with religious and
community leaders to implement
conservation projects in threatened
ecosystems. This unique model,
and the premise that faith leaders
influence their membership and
communities, is at the forefront of
conservation in Mongolia and Bhutan
and is growing in Southwest
Montana.
This approach has generated partnerships
with World Bank, Alliance
of Religions and Conservation,
World Wildlife Fund, Monastic
Bodies in Mongolia and Bhutan,
Montana Association of Churches,
Pollinator Partnership and university
research programs.
In Bozeman, TTF is partnering with
Bozeman’s Pilgrim Congregational
United Church of Christ and Hope
Lutheran Church to develop a maintenance
plan for the pollinator garden located
along Bozeman’s Galligator trail.
TTF is also partnering with Bozeman’s
Pollinator Partnership with future
plans to include outreach with local
churches to install pollinator gardens.
Internationally, TTF is working with
the Taimen Fund in Mongolia to
restore and protect Taimen and other
fragile species in the Eg-Uur watershed.
Taimen (Hucho taimen) is giant
salmonid living in river environments
in the Eg-Uur watershed in Mongolia.
The Taimen species’ historical
distribution is in a large area ranging
throughout Siberia and Mongolia.
The population has declined significantly
due to habitat loss, pollution,
and overfishing, but fortunately, the
Eg-Uur watershed has been identified
as among the most healthy Taimen
populations. The project promotes
ecotourism, conservation and antipoaching
of Taimen.
TTF also hosts cultural leadership
exchanges in these countries and in
the U.S. In October, a delegation
from Mongolia met with community
members, mining representatives,
and environmental educators in Montana.
The world’s religions were the first
environmental campaigners, according
to the Alliance of Religion and
Conservation. The protection of sacred
sites and the compassion for the
natural world is
a common thread
in sacred books
and traditional
practices. With
this in mind, TTF
is also working
to promote and
facilitate the
development of
environmental
conservation
plans. The vision
is to provide
tools for faithbased
organizations
around the
world to build
long-term plans and take action conserving
the natural world.
In 2011, TTF and the Alliance of
Religion and Conservation facilitated
the development of an eight-year environmental
plan for Mongolia alongside
Mongolian Buddhist monks.
“The fact that Buddhism played a
significant role in protecting the
nature in Mongolia suggests that if a
country combines efforts of conservation
with its religious and traditional
manners, it results a considerable
consequence,” according to the
Gandan Monastery. This monastery,
established in 1835 and home of the
Zanabazar Buddhist University, is
one of the largest and most important
in Mongolia and one of the few to
survive destruction during the communist
regime. Monks representing
the Gandan Monastery participated
in the development of the Mongolian
environmental plan.
As an outgrowth of the Mongolian
plan, TTF, with support from the Alliance
for Religion and Conservation,
will offer a workshop for faith-based
groups to develop similar strategic
conservation plans for their own
organizations and communities. The
workshop will be held this winter.
tributaryfund.org
For more information, contact (406)
585-5560 or information@thetributary.
org.
Sharlyn Izurieta is the owner of SGI
Consulting in Bozeman. She has
worked as coordinator for several
nonprofit organizations in Bozeman,
including the Greater Gallatin Watershed
Council, and an international
visitor program for the Montana Center
for International Visitors.