Cliff Kipp ‘99 has been named as executive director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, in northwestern Montana. The foundation provides volunteer support for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, a 1.5 million acre wilderness that is the third largest in the lower 48 states.

While at Denison, Kipp lived at the Homestead and majored in philosophy.

An article about Kipp and his new position notes, “The son of Southern Colorado cattle ranchers, Kipp spent a lot of time in wide open spaces, becoming intimately familiar with the landscape, garnering a sense of appreciation for each individual nook and cranny.

‘There is nothing better than getting up on a peak, looking around, and realizing that there isn’t a road for hundreds of miles,’ Kipp says.

He studied abroad in France during college, so after working with the contractor for two years, he decided to move back to France and became a bike tour guide. At the time, Kipp’s plan was to do seasonal work in the country — bike tours in the summer and mountain jobs in the winter.

When the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, happened, however, Kipp’s perspective changed — he was inspired to return home and find a way to better his own community and country.

Back in Colorado, Kipp joined AmeriCorps becoming a volunteer member in Great Falls, Montana with the Montana Conservation Corps. Kipp had only been to Montana once before on a family trip to visit the national parks.

Kipp worked there until he ran out of AmeriCorps hours — through 2002 and 2003. He first learned of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation that second year when a friend of his became a crew leader with the foundation.

At the same time as his AmeriCorps journey came to a close, a regional position with the Montana Conservation Corps opened up in Kalispell. According to Kipp, that is when ideas started truly churning.

“I thought, maybe I could make a lifestyle out of this,” Kipp said. He got the job, and his first season on official staff with the conservation group was 2004.

Kipp fell in love with the Flathead Valley. Four seasons of recreation, an abundance of natural resources, blue ribbon rivers, incredible state parks, Glacier National Park and more left him “enamored.”

“There is so much ‘capitol W wilderness’ out here,” Kipp said.

May 18, 2023