In February 2001, government representatives from over twenty agencies gathered in Cranbrook, B.C. to explore ecosystem-based ways of collaborating on shared issues in the transboundary Crown of the Continent. Participation included federal, aboriginal, provincial and state agencies or organizations with a significant land or resource management responsibility within the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem. The aim was to involve a blend of senior and middle managers with technical and professional staff that have a role in management at the ecosystem scale (e.g., conservation biologists, land use planners, etc.). The Miistakis Institute for the Rockies was invited to help facilitate the process and act as a neutral third party. No attempt was made to put a firm boundary around the area of interest, but the region is generally defined by the Rocky Mountain ecoregion from the Bob Marshall wilderness complex (MT) to the Highwood River (AB) and Elk Valley (BC) and is known as the Crown of the Continent.
The highly successful workshop, hosted by the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, resulted in a commitment by all participants to move forward collaboratively on regional ecosystem management. The Cranbrook Workshop highlighted several issues that were deemed important to the participants and could best be addressed at the larger regional ecosystem scale. These were:
- Address cumulative effects of human activity across the ecosystem;
- Address increased public interest in how lands are managed and how decisions are;
- Address increased recreational demands and increased visitation;
- Collaborate in sharing data, standardizing assessment and monitoring methodologies;
- and Address the maintenance and sustainability of shared wildlife populations.
In order to advance progress on their priorities, the Forum struck a Steering Committee to guide progress.
The second Annual Forum, in 2002, resulted in the formalization of the group to a Collaborative Partnership (Crown of the Continent Ecosystem Managers Partnership) that is accountable to the membership through an Annual Forum, implements direction from the Partnership through an Annual Work Plan, and which includes an Interagency Steering Committee as well as a Secretariat.
The Crown Managers Partnership (CMP) has met every year since then at an annual forum, and pursued additional work in creating networking opportunities, and pursuing strategic projects of mutual interest.
The Secretariat role evolved from being managed by the Miistakis Institute to being driven by a contractor who is given direction by the Steering Committee, this change took place in 2010. At this time the Steering Committee took over the organization of the annual forums, opening the forums up to the public and focus on a cost neutral event.
Since 2001, the CMP has operated under two versions of a Strategic Plan. The first Strategic Plan was developed in 2006 and then revised in 2011. The Strategic Plan encompasses the original goals of the Partnership focusing on a more formal approach to trans-boundary collaborative management. The CMP is currently operating under the direction of the Strategic Conservation Framework (2016-2020).