by Glenn Marx, MALT Executive Director
The Montana Water Summit offered several impressive presentations and many interesting topics, and from a land conservation perspective perhaps the most impressive presentation was from Chase Hibbard.
Chase (left) and the Hibbard/Baucus/Sieben families are legendary within Montana agricultural lore, and Chase touched on the colorful history of his family’s various movements and pursuits as they moved throughout a pretty large chunk of Montana.
Chase educated the crowd of over 300 people about the “myth of the western romantic era” in the 1800s, the evolution of western and Montana land management, land designations, and livestock grazing practices. Much of that evolution was – as he pointed out – neither mythic nor romantic. Some of it was brutal.
But the main point of Chase’s talk is what his family, and agriculture in general, has learned, and is learning, over the years. He said he and his family debated the idea of a conservation easement on the property for nearly a decade before agreeing in 2008 to a 40,000-acre conservation easement held by The Montana Land Reliance. Chase spoke factually, candidly, and tenderly about his ranch and his family, and said what sealed the deal on the conservation easement was “the fifth generation (on the ranch) unanimously supported” the easement.
The fifth generation on the ranch is just as devoted to stewardship, conservation, sustainability – and making a living – as the previous generations. In our current meme culture, I can picture a meme of Cooper Hibbard (Chase’s nephew) in this video with a caption reading, “I wish my husband looked at me the way Cooper Hibbard looks at a patch of grass.”
All of us are indebted to people like Chase and the Hibbard/Baucus/Sieben families…for their legacies and their vision.