Teller Wildlife Refuge exists because of the foresight of two conservation legends, Otto “Mose” Teller and Phil Tawney. The two joined together in the early 1980s to work for the conservation of Montana’s natural resources.
Otto was an avid fly fisherman and waterfowl hunter, conservationist and summer resident of the Bitterroot Valley for more than 50 years. He became increasingly concerned about the fragmentation of habitat in the Bitterroot and began purchasing river bottom and farmland properties. He combined 18 smaller properties near Corvallis to recreate what had been the Chaffin and Slack family homesteads (See our Homestead Histories page).
With the help of attorney and friend, Phil Tawney, Otto consolidated and placed the 1,200 acres into conservation easements, assuring that the land will remain forever undeveloped. Otto remodeled some of the homes and barns on the properties to serve as guest houses for visitors and as a meeting place for conservation gatherings and forums. With its acreage stretching along a five-mile section of the Bitterroot River, Teller is made up of diverse habitats, including streams, spring creeks, irrigation ditches, emergent and open water wetlands, and agricultural fields.
Otto passed away on December 1, 1998. Because of the generosity of Otto and his wife, Anne, Teller Wildlife Refuge continues to exist as the non-profit, tax-exempt organization incorporated by Otto and Anne in 1988. Today, a dedicated volunteer Board of Trustees and a small, professional staff manages the day to day operations, implements the board-approved strategic plan and insures delivery of Teller’s mission.