Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Ag Lands, Prime Farmland Soils, Conserved in the Bitterroot

Bitter Root Land Trust, a local family, USDA NRCS, and the Ravalli County Open Lands Bond Program have pooled their resources to conserve the Gates family 160-acre farm nestled along Three Mile Creek in the Bitterroot Valley.

“We would love to see the land kept intact and farmed long into the future.” – Gates Family

Over the years, the 160-acre farm has grown various crops including grass, alfalfa hay, beets, potatoes, oats, wheat, barley, and peas. The Gates family also raised dairy cows and pigs for many years. Important soils, classified as “prime farmland if irrigated” and “farmland of local importance,” are on 100% of the Gates Family Farm.

Stream, wetland and riparian habitats associated with Three Mile Creek support a variety of species, including westslope cutthroat trout, evening grosbeak, great blue heron, Clark’s nutcracker, Lewis’ woodpecker, and pileated woodpecker. Conservation of these habitats protect the ecological integrity and functions of the Three Mile Creek drainage, the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, and the Bitterroot River watershed.