About Us

Western Values Project

We bring accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation – a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.

A majority of folks who live in the Rocky Mountain West strongly believe in balancing resource development with protecting our Western way of life.

It’s why businesses locate here, people visit from around the world, and why millions choose to call the region home. Westerners want and expect our public lands to support good-paying jobs, provide world-class recreation and tourism opportunities, and support healthy, thriving communities – a mix only possible when our communities, government, business and industry strike the right balance between resource development and conservation.

Founded in 2013 and based in Helena and Whitefish, Montana and Washington, D.C., Western Values Project brings transparency to the public lands debate. Our research team investigates the connections between powerful special interests and the politicians they seek to influence, with the intention of holding public lands decision makers at every level of government accountable. When we find evidence of corruption and other wrongdoing that jeopardizes our outdoor heritage, we inform the public to hold our elected officials accountable. 

Western Values Project is a project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity fiscal sponsor that provides administrative support to hosted projects — an umbrella organization that provides administrative support to non-profit advocacy organizations. Our work is backed by organizations and individuals across  America that support a responsible approach to managing our nation’s public lands.

If you have any questions or need to get in touch with us, please email info@westernvaluesproject.org or directly contact members of our team. Sign up for action alerts, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Our Board and Staff

Chris Saeger, Director of Western Values Project

Chris comes to the Western Values Project following years of holding powerful special interests accountable throughout the American West, and beyond. He has engaged in investigative research-driven accountability efforts as the Communications Director of the Montana Democratic party and for the Service Employees International Union in Arizona and Colorado.  In these positions he exposed how the relationships between elected officials and corporate special interests undermines the public interest.

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Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director at Western Values Project

Jayson joins Western Values Project having previously worked on Montana policy over the past decade. He served as Governor Brian Schweitzer’s Policy and Communications Advisor, Minority Chief of Staff in the Montana Legislature and Communications Director at the Montana Department of Agriculture. He’s also worked in the outdoor industry as an Assistant Manager at Great Divide Ski Area where he still volunteers on their ski patrol.

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Yetta Stein, Communications Associate

Yetta comes to Western Values Project as a third-generation Montanan and avid public lands user. Most recently, she worked on Senator Jon Tester’s re-election campaign. Before that, she worked to increase campaign finance transparency at  End Citizens United in Washington, DC. She has also interned on Capitol Hill and studied peace and conflict in Haifa, Israel. Yetta is a Portland State graduate where she was chosen as her class commencement speaker.

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Kjersten Forseth, Advisory Board Member

Kjersten Forseth has over two decades of political and legislative experience in Montana, Colorado and Nevada. She was Chief of Staff for the Colorado Senate Democrats, Political and Legislative Director for the Colorado AFL-CIO, Executive Director of Progress Now Colorado, and most recently Chief Political Strategist with Rocky Mountain Voter Outreach.

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Kent Salazar

Kent Salazar, Advisory Board Member

Kent worked for twenty years as a manager of several environmental health divisions for the City of Albuquerque. He has been appointed by New Mexico Governors from both parties to serve on various boards focused on conservation issues. Starting in 2009, he served a three-year term as a New Mexico State Game Commissioner being appointed by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

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Caroline Ciccone, Advisory Board Member

Caroline has over a decade of experience developing, sharpening, and communicating effective messages within the worlds of politics and government. She currently serves as Executive Director of Restore Public Trust, a non-partisan government accountability group.  Previously, she worked at Precision Strategies, the strategic consulting firm.

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Kyle Herrig, Advisory Board Member

Kyle Herrig is a Director at the New Venture Fund where he oversees research and strategic communications for a number of progressive projects. Kyle co-founded and currently advises several accountability organizations. He also advises Western Values Project, a Montana-based conservation organization, on its congressional and administrative strategies.

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Pat Smith

Pat Smith, Advisory Board Member

Pat Smith holds an undergraduate degree in history and political science and a juris doctor degree from the University of Montana.  His law practice specialized in Indian law where he represented Indian tribes for 31 years, based out of Montana. In 2013, he was appointed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and also to represent Montana on the Columbia River Treaty’s Sovereign Review Team.

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